A hike to the roaring Black Star Canyon Falls in the heart of the Santa Ana Mountains is not for the faint of heart nor the weak of ankle. This waterfall in the Santa Ana River is flowing stronger than it has in years! And it’s reachable via a challenging and exciting 7-mile out-and-back hike. Don’t worry; you can do it! The first two miles are on a moderate, well-maintained dirt path. Expect to see other hikers and mountain bikers. When you reach a fork, follow the sign that points toward Black Star Falls and head right to enter the Black Star creek bed.
Now the hike becomes much more exciting. As you walk, jump, and climb, the water flows stronger and the boulders grow larger. Wear shoes with ample ankle support that you don’t mind getting wet. As you scramble toward the falls, keep your ears open for croaking frogs, and your eyes open for arboreal salamanders in the creek. Find your own way along the rocky path that follows the flowing creek and enjoy several smaller falls on your way to the dramatic behemoth at the end of the trail.
The waterfall itself is an incredible testament to the erosive power of flowing water as it streams down in two ribbons—one through a narrow crevice and the other through a cave lower on the rock face. After you admire the beauty of the place, simply turn around to return to the trailhead.
TIP: To avoid crowds and the midday heat, begin the hike as early in the morning as possible.
To get to Black Star Canyon trailhead, from CA-55 in the city of Orange, exit Chapman Ave. east, and after 5.2 miles stay left to stay on E. Santiago Canyon Rd. Turn left onto Silverado Canyon Rd., and then make a quick left onto Black Star Canyon Rd. Continue to the parking lot (free) at the end of the road. Dog-friendly, but not recommended—the terrain is very challenging for them.