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Landmarks Focus: Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park

PictureHikers in Black Star Canyon

​OC Parks’ Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park is located adjacent to Irvine Lake, northeast of Limestone Canyon on the Irvine Ranch Open Space Preserve. A gateway to the backcountry of the Cleveland National Forest and the northern Santa Ana Mountains, Black Star Canyon has a fascinating local history, stunning geological formations, and a variety of native wildlife.
In the late 1800s, the canyon was primarily used for beekeeping and was quarried for coal by the Black Star Mining Company, which is how the canyon received its name. Black Star Canyon was previously known as Cañon de los Indios or “Canyon of the Indians,” which was named for the Native American people who first settled there. Many tales have been passed down about previous residents and historical conflicts that ended in tragedy, leading some people to believe the area might be haunted.

​Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park is also known for a striking sedimentary rock formation called the Red Rocks. Formed approximately 20-40 million years ago during the Cenozoic Era, the Red Rocks developed their famous red color and jagged appearance over time due to the oxidation (or rust) of the sediment and the gradual uplift of the Santa Ana Mountains, as well as erosion.
Many native animals make Black Star Canyon their home. The vast hillsides are made up of coastal sage scrub, riparian, and grassland habitats, and were once home to larger animals like grizzly bears. Today, a variety of native animals still roam the land including turkey vultures, Pacific tree frogs, Mexican free-tailed bats, striped garter snakes, and Southern Pacific rattlesnakes.
To learn more about Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park and the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks visit