A dog-friendly hike to the Redwoods in Carbon Canyon Regional Park

Hike-At-A-Glance


Carbon Canyon Regional Park Loop

Date Hiked: March 21, 2010
Best Season: Autumn Spring Summer Winter
Check Trail Conditions: Carbon Canyon Regional Park (714)973-3160 or (714)973-3162
  • Distance: 3.4 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 90 feet
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Trail Type: Mostly dirt
  • Difficulty: Easy

Late last March, after all the rain, Jeff, our son Hunter and I took our precious Beagle puppy (then only 5-1/2 months old) on a short hike around Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea, California, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon (March 21st).  Carbon Canyon Park is practically in our backyard, so it’s a great spot for us to head over to when we want to stretch our legs and experience nature, but only have an hour or two of free time.

Labor Day Picnic 2008

Jeff and I even spent one of our first dates -- Labor Day 2008 -- here enjoying a romantic picnic by the lake. Umm...let's just say that's grape juice in our glasses since we didn't realize beforehand that alcohol is prohibited within the park.

Carbon Canyon Regional Park is a 124-acre park, operated by the County of Orange and located next to Chino Hill State Park.  The park is most directly accessed by using the Lambert off-ramp from the 57 Freeway, which turns into Carbon Canyon Road (get directions here).  It sits on the site of the former oil town of Olinda (you can read more about the park history here).  Parking fees are charged on a daily basis ($3 weekdays, $5 weekends), or you can do like we do and purchase an OC Parks annual pass.

Due to the heavy rainy season, the grasses throughout the park were lush, tall and green!  The perfect setting for a (leashed) puppy to romp and play.

This 3.4-mile round-trip hike is usually referred to as a nature trail, and it’s short, well-marked, and flat enough for anyone comfortable walking on a dirt path.  The trailhead is accessed from the parking lot at the east end of the park.

After walking through a grove of Monterey pines located next to the parking lot, you follow a dirt nature trail that crosses Carbon Canyon Creek a few times and takes you past a 4-acre lake before reaching a 10-acre grove of California coastal redwoods that were planted here in 1975 at the southern end of the park.  The trail loops around the redwood grove, crossing the creek again before paralleling Carbon Canyon Damn.  Continue to follow the trail through the park maintenance yard — this will take you past the park’s main entrance, then past the lake, playground and picnic tables before reaching the eastern corner of the parking lot and the trailhead.

We recommend that you allow for ample time to sit and enjoy the cool shady redwoods — it’s a great picnic spot.  There are nice flat grassy areas that provide a perfect spot to spread out a blanket and nap or read a book, a well as a few well-maintained wooden benches.

Public restrooms are located in the picnic/playground area of the main park, as well as the trail section between the dam and the maintenance yard.

Hiking Carbon Canyon Loop

Holly and Hunter stop to look back at the first leg of the hike, the Monterey Pine Grove at the trailhead.

Beautiful spring wildflowers in bloom.

Beautiful spring wildflowers in bloom.

Hiking Carbon Canyon Loop

Preparing to wade across the treacherous creek at the east end of the park.

Hiking Carbon Canyon Loop

Walking along the north bank of the creek, heading deeper into the park interior. Note all the lush vegetation!

Hiking Carbon Canyon Loop

Despite water in the creek and spring green, evidence of old wildfires is still visible.

Hiking Carbon Canyon Loop

The trail is surrounded by beautiful tall mustard that feels like corn stalks.

Hiking Carbon Canyon Loop

A break in the tall grasses reveals that we're still just across the creek from the more crowded areas of the park.

Hiking Carbon Canyon Loop

This dried up section of creek bed shows how much sediment was left behind by the flood waters this past rainy season...that's the top of a park bench!

Hiking Carbon Canyon Loop

The trail actually looks like a trail again as we climb out of the dry creek wash and approach the east end of the park. Not the homes above.

Hiking Carbon Canyon Loop

We see this cool plant everywhere we hike in Orange County. Do you recognize it?

Hiking Carbon Canyon Loop

Finally at the redwoods! Benches are strategically set here to enjoy maximum cool shade.

Hiking Carbon Canyon Loop

We took a quick detour up into the housing track at the southernmost point of the redwood grove and the park to track down a geocache.

Hiking Carbon Canyon Loop

This 10-acre grove of California coastal redwoods was planted in 1975.

Hiking Carbon Canyon Loop

Taking the return loop west, along Carbon Canyon Dam, across the park maintenance yard, and through the main activity center of the park to return to our trailhead.

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Comments

  1. crystal says

    Hi! That prickly plant that you see everywhere in the spring is milk thistle. You can eat the leaves–just tear off the prickly parts. They’re nutritious :)

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