Carbon Canyon Regional Park is lush and green for hiking this spring!


Carbon Canyon Regional Park Loop

Date Hiked: March 19, 2011 and 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

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A couple weeks ago, when weather predictions indicated rain all weekend, Jeff and I sought out hike possibilities for us and the kids in the event the storm might pass us by.

Carbon Canyon Loop Hike (March 2011)

The heavy rains this winter and spring have made the park flora come alive.

We decided to re-do the Carbon Canyon Regional park loop — not realizing it was almost one year to the date since we first did this hike. Since Carbon Canyon is so close to home, and is a relatively short hike, we figured we could chance hitting the park and make it back to the car and home if the storm started to approach. As it turns out, it was cloudy and cool that day, but we never encountered rain on our hike.

Carbon Canyon Loop Hike (March 2011)

The wildflowers are just itching to bloom.

Carbon Canyon Loop Hike (March 2011)

The trail at the east end of the park even required a bit of rock-hopping to cross the creek, which appears to have cut a wider channel this year.

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.

Carbon Canyon Loop Hike (March 2011)

Poison oak is heavily intertwined with the creekside flora, but the park has clear warning signs posted along this section of trail.

Carbon Canyon Loop Hike (March 2011)

We were all dwarfed by the vegetation along some sections of the trail.

Our second visit to the park followed pretty much the exact same hiking route as before — although Jeff and I both think that the trail was closer to the creek bed last year (Jeff says we actually hiked on the creek bed part of the time).  The section of trail that is across from the creek from the main park, en route to the redwoods, looks freshly constructed and graded, and there are new looking trail signs along the entire route.

Carbon Canyon Loop Hike (March 2011)

The redwood groves were impressive and gorgeous as always.

Carbon Canyon Loop Hike (March 2011)

Even the trail approach to the dam was green this year.

Carbon Canyon Loop Hike (March 2011)

Signs of water at the base of the dam.

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.

Carbon Canyon Loop Hike (March 2011)

Although its paved, the final leg of the hike -- from the dam back to park headquarters -- is quite pleasant due to all the trees and flowers.

Carbon Canyon Loop Hike (March 2011)

This park is packed with fabulous shady picnic spots.

View Carbon Canyon hike in a larger map

Carbon Canyon Elevation Profile 3-19-11

Elevation profile. Click for a larger view.

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