The unincorporated community of Silverado is located in the south eastern area of Orange County near Lake Forest and Rancho Santa Margarita. Set in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains near the boundaries of Cleveland National Forest. The community is mostly undeveloped, with the exception of some residential areas and a few small businesses. The Silverado profile includes history and information for residential services, shopping, dining, and points of interest throughout the area.
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Located in eastern Orange County in the Santa Ana Mountains, Silverado is primarily wooded and rustic-style residential areas. It is lightly populated and situated primarily along the six-mile length of Silverado Canyon Road. Due to the location, much of the surrounding area is designated as nature preserves, wilderness parks, and regional park space. Black Star Canyon and Limestone Canyon Regional Park are two of the most popular destinations within Silverado.
The Silverado community hosts the Annual Silverado Country Fair, a tradition that pays homage to the old west. The day long event, usually in October, kicks off in the morning with a parade. People from all around can enjoy festivities throughout the day and music into the night. The event is family friendly with food, 1800’s activities, contests and games, arts and crafts, and more. You can find the center of the action near the Canyon Market or the Silverado Café.
Because of Silverado’s location, there are few businesses, but if you’re in the area and need a bite to eat the Silverado Café is the place to go for sandwiches, burgers, breakfast, or mexican food. The Canyon Market serves pizza and sandwiches on Saturday and breakfast and sandwiches on Sunday. Plus you can grab snacks, groceries, beer and wine, and even Adventure Passes in case you’re venturing out into Cleveland National Forest. For regular shopping and dining, you’ll have to visit larger nearby cities like Lake Forest and Rancho Santa Margarita.
Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park features wooded space and geological formations like majestic red rock cliffs. Wilderness access days allow hikers, bikers, and equestrians the opportunity to head into the backcountry on trail to explore these formations, search for fossils embedded in the cliffs, or venture out along the 7-mile out and back trail to Black Star Canyon Falls. Keep in mind that this difficult hike ventures through streambeds and rocky terrain with some boulder jumping require, and there is a significant presence of poison oak.
Limestone Canyon is home to the geological wonder, The Sinks. Sometimes call Southern California’s mini Grand Canyon. Viewing this natural sandstone formation is worth the trip. But to get there, you’ll have to start at the Augustine Staging Area and head out on an 8-mile out and back hike, bike ride, or by horseback, on one of the designated wilderness access days.
Irvine Lake, one of Orange County’s moist popular fishing holes is also here in Silverado. Right next door, you’ll find Oak Canyon Park. This is a popular site for many events and activities including Boy Scouting events, concerts, fairs, and festivals.
Silverado was inhabited by the Juaneno or Acjachemen Native Americans until settlers began encroaching on the West. Silver was discovered here in 1877 sparking a boom with miners flocking to the area. The boom lasted only briefly, 1878 to 1881, but during it’s heyday, there were three hotels, three general stores, a school, seven saloons, and two blacksmiths.
Silver mines were established here, with one, the Blue Light Mine, becoming the biggest producer of silver. Mining continued at Blue Light of and on until the 1950s, not only for silver, but also zinc and other minerals. Remnants of the mine can still be spotted in Pine Canyon. Silverado was also a destination for timber harvesting and coal mining.
During the 1940s, Silverado was a hot springs vacation retreat area and home to artists, craftsman, and visitors coming in for a relaxing getaway.
The area has been damaged by multiple natural disasters including flooding from torrential rain in 1939 and 1969 when roads and bridges were heavily damaged and homes washed away. In 2007 and 2014, wildfires damaged the canyon.
When you visit Silverado, look for historical landmark 202 which reads, “Located in Canada de la Madera (Timber Canyon), Silverado was a mining boom town founded in 1878 when silver was discovered nearby. During the colorful life of the boom, 1878-1881, miners, flocking to the area, established a thriving community, served daily by stage from Los Angeles and Santa Ana“.
Size: Approximately 66.4 Square Miles
Thigs To Do In Silverado
- Irvine Lake
- Oak Canyon Park
- Cook’s Corner
- Arden: Helena Modjeska Historic House & Gardens
- Limestone Canyon
- Black Star Canyon
- Cleveland National Forest
- Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary
- Girracci Vineyards & Farms
- Silverado Country Fair
- Recreation Programs In Silverado
Information & Services
|Orange County Guide||Best Cities For Families In Orange County|
|Best Regional Parks in Orange County||Best Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails in OC|
|Irvine Lake||Fairs & Festivals in Orange County|
Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County, and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights.