Hikers and mountain bikers in Orange County, California love Black Star Canyon in the Santa Ana mountains for its rugged landscapes and beautiful swaths of wild scenery. However, Black Star Canyon is known for another reason: it is considered one of California's most haunted locations due to a bloody history.
Haunted History of Black Star Canyon and Its Demon
A noted archeological site, Black Star Canyon was a summer home to the Tongva-Gabrieliño people, who escaped from the severe summer heat and foraged acorns in the mountains. The canyon was also the reported site of a bloody armed conflict between American fur trappers and the Tongva-Gabrieliño people in 1831. It is considered the bloodiest conflict in the history of the Santa Ana Mountains.
JE Pleasants' account of horses stolen by the Tongva being tracked down by hired fur trappers is an accepted retelling of the 1831 massacre. According to OC Weekly, no archeological evidence has ever been recovered from the site to substantiate the story.
Black Star Canyon Demon
Many people believe the massacre of the Tongva-Gabrieliño people spawned a demon. Visitors to the canyon report the sensation of feeling as though they are being watched. Many witnesses claim to have encountered the Black Star Canyon Demon. The demon is said to lurk in the shadows, often frightening unsuspecting hikers and bikers as it crosses the path several yards in front of them. The demon appears as a dark humanoid shape roaming about the mountainside.
Deaths, Murders, and Ghosts
There are several stories about deaths and murders in the canyon. It's difficult to sift through myth and truth, but when it comes to the ghost stories, there are plenty of ghostly characters to psyche you out before you venture into the canyon.
According to Patch, there have been many deadly wrecks on the canyon roads around midnight. In addition, there are claims of missing hikers still in the canyon after midnight.
There are also tales of the restless ghosts of coal miners from the now defunct coal mine located in the canyon. Witnesses claim to see the apparitions of coal miners near and around the closed mine.
Then there's James Gregg, a man shot and killed by two brothers who owned a ranch in the canyon called Hidden Ranch. Thomas Hungerford and his brother settled a disagreement when they shot and killed Gregg. One version of the story states the argument was over a horse trade gone wrong. Many wonder if Gregg's ghost is wandering about seeking revenge.
Another ghost story associated with the canyon has ancient Mexican roots. The tale is about a mother, known as La Llorona, who murdered her children and then committed suicide. Her ghost has been reported as wandering the canyon in a flowing white gown, crying and wailing as she searches for her children.
Other ghostly canyon dwellers reported in the area include:
- Phantom ghosts of Spanish conquistadors
- Strange lights in the treetops
- Spirits invoked via Satanic rituals performed in the canyon during the 1980s
- Ghostly human-like figures with lion heads
- Bigfoot-like creature tromping through the brush
- Unusual non-animal and non-human sounds
- Disembodied whispers
- Phantom footsteps
Recent Stories Trace Back to a Book
Some of the newer tales of the Black Star Canyon Demon and other paranormal stories may have been inspired by an eyewitness account in the book, Weird California. The story tells of a group that stopped their car in front of the gated entrance and witnessed spectral dwarf shadows in hoods marching toward them. This story spawned an internet sensation, and the story morphed into a all manner of ghostly tales.
Take a Ghost Walking Tour of Black Star Canyon
OC Ghosts and Legends offers a ghost walk along the Black Star Canyon Trail at night. The tour company states they and their tour guests have experienced strange ghostly phenomena, and they share these personal stories with people taking the tour.
Black Star Canyon Demon
The story of a demon that haunts Black Star Canyon is just one of many other ghostly encounters reported over the years. Many visitors claim to have a sense of a malevolent presence lurking in the canyon. So strap on your hiking boots and hit the trails in Black Star Canyon, but only go after if you aren't afraid of ghosts.