The combination of a fascinating local history, noteworthy geological formations, and a variety of plant and animal life make the “History of the Red Rocks of Black Star Canyon” a hike not to be missed. During a casually-paced 2.5-mile walk along a fairly flat, sandy, streambed trail, well-informed docents will discuss the diverse flora and fauna on display, the plate tectonics at work underfoot, and the human history of OC Parks’ beautiful Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park.
Hikers may get the chance to see a variety of small birds being active in Black Star Canyon, or larger raptors circling overhead. An abandoned golden eagle nest, with sticks arranged neatly inside a small indention on the face of one of the red cliffs, can still clearly be seen. Lizards can often be seen sunning themselves on the sandy and rocky terrain that skirts the trail. Larger mammals like mule deer, bobcats and coyotes can sometimes be seen grazing or hunting in the canyon.
Naturalist guides will also discuss the variety of plant species that inhabit the coastal sage scrub and riparian habitats of Black Star Canyon, and the adaptations plants have made to deal with lack of water for extended periods. Find out how the “taco-shaped” leaves of certain plants perfectly collect morning dew drops that roll off the leaves to water the roots of the plant below.
In addition to discussing the local flora and fauna, docents will focus on the geological forces at work in this former mining area of Orange County. You will learn how oxidation over millennia has turned the iron in the rocks into the iron oxide that gives the cliff faces in Black Star Canyon their distinctive red coloring. The guides will likely point out the visible sedimentary layers in the cliff faces as they discuss the forces of plate tectonics and erosion at play. They will point out how these layers have become clearly diagonal in places as they have been pushed up by grinding tectonic plates over millions of years. Learn how heavy rain falls can move larger rocks and boulders to new locations, while lighter rains move sand, mud and gravel.
The Black Star Canyon area, which extends into Cleveland National Forest, has a rich history. Encounters between Native Americans and early ranchers have led to many stories of the canyon being haunted. This hike’s naturalist guide covers much of that history during this activity, giving participants an overview of early Orange County.
The next The History of the Red Rocks of Black Star Canyon hike is scheduled for the morning of Monday, April 13. Click here to register.
There are many hikes along the Red Rocks Trail that explore the area’s natural history and give participants the chance to see the distinctive red rock cliffs. During Saturday morning’s “Amazing Plants of the Santa Ana Mountains” 3-mile hike, in nearby Baker Canyon, participants will discover the wide variety of plant and animal communities in the area while enjoying sweeping views of the Santa Ana Mountains and Irvine Lake. Also on Saturday, the 2.5-mile “Family Hike- Black Star Canyon” is an early evening family hike that lets participants enjoy OC Parks’ Black Star Canyon while the sun begins to set and temperatures begin to cool off in the canyon.
These programs are free and require pre-registration for all participants (children must attend with their parent or guardian). Wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water. To find out more information about other offered programs, please visit www.LetsGoOutside.org/activities.