Trail from the Crypt

This Black Friday, while sale-seekers are doorbusting their way through Wal-Marts and wallets, it may behoove you to take a step back and appreciate LA’s calmer vistas.

Like, say, Black Star Canyon: one of our favorite hikes — even though it may be haunted.

Ghost stories abound: a group of Tongva peoples were slaughtered here by fur trappers in 1831. A homesteader was murdered in 1899. And in the ‘70s, a school bus crash claimed the lives of almost everyone aboard.

Those howling Santa Ana winds that roll through each night? Spirits, of course, courtesy all the above.

At SoCal Hiker you’ll find detailed plans for hiking through the canyon to Beek’s Place, the crumbling stone remains of Balboa Ferry founder Joseph Beek’s erstwhile mountain abode.

The trail runs a gorgeous 15-mile stretch of the Santa Anas, passing a 50-foot sandstone waterfall and some stunning vistas (not to mention some ominously bullethole-ridden “No Trespassing” signs) en route to the ruins.

You’ll climb a mile above sea level and behold one of Cali’s only intact coastal ecosystems, thick with native plants, bats, deer and frogs. And as a protected landscape, the area is accessible only to foot traffic and mountain bikers.

For those looking to impart the natural history to the kiddies, get a guided trek from the Santa Ana Mountains Wild Heritage Project.

As for ghosts, you’ll have to check it out yourself. Happy shopping.

Main image credit: Paul Bredow
Body image credit: Pat Durkin