Ghosts, UFOS, Sasquatch, and shadow people? Sounds like my type of place.
Black Star Canyon, located in the Santa Ana Mountains, just about ten miles from Disneyland, is a hot bed for all sorts of paranormal activity. Basically, it’s like a vacation spot for the things that go bump in the night. Though the town of Lake Forest is just minutes away, when you’re out here, it’s like the outside world doesn’t even exist.
The canyon got its name from a thriving industry that used to be located there. After discovering coal deposits in the canyon, August Witte founded the Black Star Coal Mining Company in 1879. The coal was originally dug from a shallow pit on the hill just east of the canyon mouth, used almost exclusively by the canyon’s few residents.
Thought the coal mine is now sealed off, reports of apparitions, many of them looking like the miners who once worked there, have been on the rise for years. In addition, Shadow people, misty forms that appear and disappear, are often seen darting across the path in front of you at night.
Then there’s also the tale of the woman in white, believed to be wearing a wedding dress. Nighttime hikers often catch glimpses of her as she rounds a corner, just out of their reach.
So, what is it about this area that makes it such a paranormal hot spot?
Black Star Canyon is perhaps best known to historians as an important archaeological site of the Native American people who used to live there. They often fled to the mountains seeking relief from the warm California summers.
In 1831, however, there was an armed conflict between American fur trappers and a group of Tongva Indians, resulting the death of many of the Indians, and became one of the bloodiest battles in southern California history. This massacre is believed to be the cause of some of the hauntings in black star.
But that’s not all: there are plenty of reports of UFO’s in the area at night. Strange lights in the sky, darting back and forth at random, before taking off at supersonic speeds are common. The canyon’s secluded surroundings block out most of the ambient light of surrounding towns, making it much easier to see the stars at night…amongst other things.
There are even reports of satanic rituals being performed back in the 1980s…and even today.
And if that wasn’t enough, the gigantic humanoid ape-man known as Sasquatch is said to also roam the hills, knocking on trees to communication with his hairy brethren.
Black Star Canyon looks absolutely gorgeous and tranquil during the day, filled with hikers, bikers, and people out for a nice stroll. However, the canyon takes on an entirely different feel when you come back at night.
And that’s just what I did.
I met Cris August, owner and operator of Orange County Ghosts and Legends, a few months ago while I was researching Black Star for the video version of Crypto Country (it’s coming still, I swear!). He was gracious enough to take me out there one night to show me around and tell me some tales. His group runs tours of the area often, among other places, so he is definitely the resident expert. On top of that, he’s one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever met.
My brother and his girlfriend were in town recently, and they are into ghost investigations, so for their last night here, I asked Cris if we could go on one of his tours. While he didn’t have one scheduled for that night, he agreed, and even managed to pick up a few last minute stragglers to attend as well. So myself, with my brother, Justinn, his girlfriend, Melissa, my fiancé, Martina, and our son, Alex, headed out into the darkness with a handful of strangers to try to find proof of the unknown.
One of the things that Cris makes sure everyone knows before heading out into the canyon is that anything can happen.
“Some nights, it’s active. Some nights, we won’t see anything at all. I can’t control what happens, but I can make sure you have a good time,” he told us before we embarked.
Making sure we were covered in bug spray, and had working flash lights, Cris began to tell us the history of the area. Though the day was quite warm, as soon as the sun went down, it was quite cool in the canyon. We weren’t the only ones out for a night hike that evening, but we were probably the only ones actively looking for some paranormal activity.
The first path into the canyon we took was a long straight away, and even with the full moon out, had a decidedly creepy vibe to it. A tarantula greeted us briefly along our walk, though we all took a wide berth to avoid it.
As we continued walking Cris told us stories about how fairly recently, a group he was with may or may not have encountered a Sasquatch.
“It was this weird huffing noise over by this fence,” he pointed out. “I know certain animals make that noise, but this was nothing like I had ever heard before.”
An outspoken sceptic, Cris doesn’t just take things as face value. When confronted with something like that, he tries to find the solution, or a natural reason as to why it happened. This was one of the few times he had no explanation of it.
“Could it have been something explainable? Sure. Could it have been something else? Maybe. We’ll never know.”
We twisted and turned into the canyon, stopping at various places along the way so Cris could tell us a little bit more lore about the area. We stopped by a grouping of trees, while he explained about a child-like presence often seen in that area. While an EVP session revealed nothing, it still was enough to creep my companions out.
Cris also relayed a tale to the group about what happened when he had taken me out to Black Star Canyon for the first time. As we were nearing a bend in the path, I had noticed a dark shadow, slightly hunched over, darting across from one side of the woods to the other. I said something, and Cris told me about the time he had seem something similar in that exact same area, further creeping us both out.
“I tell that story to all my tour groups now,” he told us. I took the words out of his mouth before he had a chance to tell me that story. Needless to say, we all kept our eyes peeled in that area once we reached it.
Finally, we reached the end of our journey, a small bridge over a barely there stream, which was also a hotbed of activity over the years. Prior investigations revealed a man wearing flannel under the bridge, who mysteriously disappeared moments after being spotted.
Cris set up a grid light, which projected green dots onto the area, to help see if anything…or anyone… walked through it. We also did another EVP session, along with using dowsing rods, to see if anything came up.
While nothing manifested itself, we did hear quite a bit of noise in the surrounding area throughout the time we stood there, both footsteps and cracking branches. My brother swears he heard someone running.
Either way, it was a fun investigation, even if nothing was overly obvious to us.
After that, we all walked back to our cars, and parted ways with Cris. We will most definitely be going out with him again.
Black Star Canyon is open to the public, both during the day and at night, but it is a tough hike, so come prepared. Never go alone (mostly for safety from mountain lions, but I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt against Sasquatch as well), bring snacks & water, and always stay on the path.
If you don’t follow those rules, well…you may just become the next story of Black Star Canyon.
For more information on Orange County Ghosts and Legends many hikes and investigations, check out their website.