August 01, 2011

Photo Essay: The Private Roads of Black Star Canyon

When describing my hiking adventures, I often refer to the "path" or the "trail," but honestly, in Southern California, that trail is more like a road.

It may be a dirt road, a fire road, a private road, or just a plain ol' road road, but regardless, I'm following not only in the footsteps, but also in the tire tracks of those cars, trucks, bikes and wagons, of those who have climbed before me.

In Black Star Canyon in Silverado, CA - known as "the last frontier of Orange County" - I hiked a road to ruins of several former ranches, a road itself which has more or less become abandoned - or, at least, that might be the hopes of the people who reside there, and relentlessly post PRIVATE signs despite the land being under an easement by the country.

You can see the empty signs that once warned drivers of the private road conditions, unmaintained by Orange County.

You pass the white metal signs lined up low along the shoulder to keep drivers from running off the road, now target practice for ne'er do wells wielding pellet guns or other firearms.

Sunwashed signs warn of narrow bridges whose shoulders have collapsed into dried-up creeks.

Other signs peek out from the overgrown brush...

...and feebly attempt to keep trespassers off the private road.

Fences are everywhere, rusty wrought rails holding in the delicious abandonment of broken-down vehicles, crumbling trailers and other delights behind barbed wire and rotting wood.

There are a few relics scattered about, their origins unknown, their utility mysterious.

That road has become enshrouded in mystery surrounding several macabre historical events in the canyon - including a massacre, several murders, and supposed car accidents. I didn't witness any of the paranormal activity that has made Black Star Canyon a place of infamy, but then again, I didn't hike it at night.

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