This enjoyable hike is offered periodically by Irvine Ranch as a leisurely paced, interpretation-oriented hike and can also be done on the regularly scheduled Black Star Canyon wilderness access days, depending on how many rangers are available (click the link above for information on upcoming events.) Baker Canyon is pleasantly remote with scant signs of civilization, save for a few overhead power lines and an occasional car or dirt bike on the nearby service road. The easy mile-long stroll through the meadow described here surveys the human and natural history of the area.
From the turnout on Black Star Canyon Road, follow an overgrown single-track trail to a more elaborate staging area (0.1 miles), where there are picnic tables, restrooms and a map of Baker Canyon. A few non-native Aleppo pines, notable for their upward-facing cones, provide some shade. If you are on a guided hike, this is where you will receive your orientation.
The trail continues east into Baker Canyon, partially shaded by oaks and sycamores. At 0.3 miles, keep an eye out for an abandoned tractor, left over from the area’s agricultural days. Here, the Silmod fire road trail (usually open on wilderness access days) branches off, leading across the service road while the Baker Canyon single-track bends to the right.
At half a mile, you’ll notice the unlikely sight of a metal fence and soccer goalpost at the edge of a field, remnants of a retreat for the blind that once operated here. As you progress up canyon, views of the taller Santa Ana peaks open up.
One mile from the beginning, you reach a junction with the Helo fire road (so named because it climbs the ridge to an abandoned helicopter pad). Note a few small sandstone caves in the rocks across the service road. If you are here during a wilderness access day, you can use this route to make a loop back to the trail head, but for most of Irvine Ranch’s interpretive activities, this is the turnaround point.
Text and photography copyright 2016 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.