Nearly 40,000 acres of open space on the historic Irvine Ranch have been designated a Natural Landmark by both the State of California and the U.S. Department of the Interior. This honor recognizes the exceptional value of these lands to California and the entire nation. This land is part of the 50,000 acres of permanently protected land preserved on the historic Irvine Ranch. The Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks contain important natural habitats and unusual geological formations. The landscape is home to hundreds of species of plants and animals, including eagles, badgers, mountain lions, Tecate cypress trees, and many rare species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and plants. Scientists have identified this region as one of the world

mountain biking
9 hours ago

mountain biking
18 days ago

CLOSED: the trail marked above is now closed. You can’t access it from Santiago Canyon Road. If you go in without a permit you can get fined. Land conservancy volunteers are fast to enforce this.

Great climbing!

First some practical information:

- Total distance 9.6 miles
- Take plenty of water (5-6 bottles)
- Take a flashlight and bug spray
- Take reliable footwear
- Expect to walk about 3.5 miles of dirt road before you reach the trail
- Take a right where sign reads "Black Star Falls" (Yes it is off-road)
- Take a left when you reach riverbed
- Expect to scale large rocks and boulders
- Expect to be able to do a pull-up
- Take a left where next sign reads "Falls" and the trail splits
- Expect to keep going
- Yes there is a waterfall (Depending on weather conditions and time of year it may or may not be active)

My round-trip completion time: 3 hours and 15 minutes

Black Star Canyon! Certainly one of the most challenging excursions in Orange County, as well as one of the most invigorating. The hike literally begins at a security gate where most choose to park their vehicles. Depending on the time of the day, it can be an arduous task making your way up the steady incline of a well traveled and flora encompassed dirt path. The approximately 3.5 mile stretch of trail will afford you not only some breathtaking landscapes, but with the physical preliminaries your muscles will require for the formidable climb to come. A beacon of the dirt paths transition point is marked by a post, reading "Black Star Falls". This somewhat clandestine sign can certainly be missed, if the traveler isn't particularly observant. The mouth of this route swallows its visitors whole, as one first steps down into the bowels of the flora encapsulated throat. Taking each each step down a staircase comprised of beaten earth and rubble, one might reflect on Black Star's fascinating history. After all, this region of the Santa Ana Mountains was once frequented by and home to the Tongva-Gabrielino natives; an American Indian tribe that established settlement in Southern California nearly 3,500 years ago. But, I digress. Once you've made your way to the riverbed, you have a plethora of ways you can make your ascent--making it that much more appealing to an adventurous hiker/climber. The roughly 1.3 mile journey to the waterfall will continually defy its visitors, presenting them with progressively larger and steeper rock-faces and boulders to climb. After a time, one should come to a split off in their course; this is made apparent by an erected make-shift post. Visitors are able to discern which direction to continue travel, by the arrow pointing left and the post reading "Falls". From this point it is about a 20-25 minute hike, until one should reach their destination; along with that will come three significantly large rock-faces--each larger than the last. The final rock-face will obstruct a direct line of sight to the waterfall. This only makes the final hurdle all the more worthwhile and gratifying. When you reach the waterfall, it's as if you've entered into a secluded paradise--one reserved only for those willing to brave the hardship to reach it. The air rich with the scent of moisture from the eventuality of a nourishing river. This miniature exotic expanse, is--for a moment--ones slice of Eden.

Thank you for reading!

Definitely bring lots of water and the proper shoes. I'll probably come back when there's water.

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