Saturday, July 2, 2016

Black BM and Beek's Place

Hiked: 7/2/2016
Distance: 18.2 miles round trip on dirt road and use trail
Summit Elevation: 2710' (Black BM), 2820' (Beek's Place)
Elevation Gain: 2800'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 2.24
Round trip time: 6 hours 45 minutes
Recommended water: 180 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free on Black Star Canyon Road
Difficulty: Strenuous

I scouted this peak in the Santa Ana foothills last month and found the most direct route blocked by a private road. I decided to take a longer route up Black Star Canyon Road past the peak, then follow a firebreak back along the ridge. A long, slow burn. Since I would be hiking nearby, I also hit Beek's Place, the historical cabin ruins of Joseph Beek. I started early and had some low cloud cover making it a perfect hiking environment. Since my scouting trip last month, a nice metal sign was added for Black Star Canyon Falls. It has become a very popular hike, but I don't think it is the the most interesting attraction along this road. I took the same shortcuts I used for Flat Black Peak and cached water behind a large boulder about half way to Beek's Place. I continued up the road until I hit the intersection with Main Divide Road. A quick right and I was at Beek's Place. The ruins were in pretty good shape and while I was looking around, a group of runners and half a dozen mountain bikers went by. There were nice views all around, including the eastern side of the Santa Anas. I only took a short break there, then descended down to look for a way to access the ridge leading to Black BM (peak 2710).

New Black Star Canyon Falls metal sign, nice

Sun burning the low clouds out of existence

Sierra Peak from the intersection with Main Divide

Beek's Place

Beek's Place

Beek's Place

KSOX Doppler Radar Tower

On the way down, I kept looking for the best way to reach the Black ridge line. I spotted a small cairn on the road marking a use trail. I recorded a waypoint on the track that can be downloaded from Peakbagger. The trail was pretty good and headed toward a large sandstone structure at the end of the ridge I called the Tailbone. The use trail goes right by it, then stays on top of the ridge. There are several bouldering options along the ridge if you are so inclined. Black BM is the last bump on the ridge, but not the highest one. The bump just before it is a little higher and has a small marker I could not read. The Black benchmark is at the far end of the summit area and requires some light bushwhacking. I had to wander around to find it since it is not at the high point. I found it near some boulders at a strategic overlook and recorded a waypoint. The marker was stamped "Black" and dated 1928. It was in pristine condition. The boulders are a perfect lunch or resting spot and provide a commanding view over the road and canyon. There was a white plastic pole at the summit that had fallen. I stood it up between some of the boulders. There was no register, but a detached blank metal sign had some signatures scratched into it. One that caught my attention was from a couple in 1979 who apparently arrived by helicopter. Flat Black Peak was directly below. I thought about returning that way, but I wanted to check out the Tailbone rocks on the way back. The Tailbone appeared to be smooth sandstone. It only took a class 2 effort to get on top. There were several indentations on top that looked like they would collect water, but were currently dry. It was fun diversion. On the way back, I passed several use trails branching from the road toward the canyon, but didn't take the time to explore them.

Use trail leading to the ridge and eventually Black BM

Small cairn where the use trail leaves the road

Heading to the Tailbone

Boulders along the ridge

Black BM placed 1928

Summit view

Looking down on Flat Black Peak

Horned lizard


Ascent route, nothing more than class 2

Top of the Tailbone

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