Monday, December 24, 2012

Carbon Canyon Regional Park

Carbon Canyon Regional Park offers a fun short hike in Orange County to a ten acre grove of California Coastal Redwoods. Carbon Canyon Regional Park is a 124 acre regional park run by OC Parks that lies upstream from Carbon Canyon Dam and is adjacent to the Chino Hills State Park. A hike in Carbon Canyon Regional Park's wilderness area, to the California Coastal Redwoods, is a fun short hike that all can enjoy. For more pictures make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to Trailhead: To get to Carbon Canyon Regional Park, take the Lambert Road exit from the 57 freeway. Once you exit the 57 freeway head east towards the Chino Hills. The entrance to Carbon Canyon Regional Park is approximately 2.5 miles from when you exit the freeway. You will also notice Lambert Road will change names to Carbon Canyon Road. You are going to make a right into Carbon Canyon Regional Park. Once inside Carbon Canyon Regional Park, make a left on the main road and follow the road all the way until the very last parking lot where you will notice the trailhead for the hike to the Coastal Redwoods. As this is an OC Park, it costs $3 on weekdays and $5 on weekends for parking at Carbon Canyon Regional Park. For a map of where Carbon Canyon Regional Park is located click Here. The park hours for fall - winter are 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and for spring - summer are 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Description of Hike: The hike in Carbon Canyon Regional Park to the California Coastal Redwoods is an out and back hike along a relativly flat dirt trail. There is minimal elevation gain and the roundtrip hike is 2.6 miles for the loop as highlighted in the Google map below. You will take the Carbon Canyon Creek Nature Trail from the parking area all the way to the Coastal Redwoods. This is the only main hiking trail in Carbon Canyon Regional Park. The start of the hiking trail goes through a native garden and set of Monterrey Pines which is left over from an old Christmas tree farm. The trail then crosses a small stream "Carbon Canyon Creek" which can have water during the winter and spring. The trail hugs a hillside all the way to the Coastal Redwood Trees. You will find that the Carbon Canyon Creek Nature Trail is well marked with signs to the Coastal Redwoods in Orange County. The return hike offers a small loop that allows you the chance to see the large Carbon Canyon Dam which is a neat sight to see in Orange County. Return via the same trail. Along the way on your hike you will find informative trail markers with educational information about the local flora, fauna, and history of the surrounding area. For a printable map of the hiking trails in Carbon Canyon Regional Park click Here. To view the Carbon Canyon Regional Park brochure click Here.

Further Thoughts: On this hike, you will know when you are getting close to the California Coastal Redwood Trees in Carbon Canyon Regional Park as you will begin to see them at a distance once you get your first views of the Carbon Canyon Dam. There are approximately 250 redwood trees planted on a 10 acre grove in a linear fashion at Carbon Canyon Regional Park. The trees were planted in 1975 and you will notice there have been some new additions to the redwood grove. Some trees are as small as 20 feet while several are around 100 feet tall. The Coastal Redwoods have done surprisingly well given that they prefer moist and misty environments. One of the reasons for their success has been the in ground irrigation system that has been installed to provide the Coastal Redwoods in Orange County with the water they need, especially during the warm summer months in Southern California.

The history of Carbon Canyon Regional Park is very interesting. The area around Carbon Canyon Regional Park was once known as Olinda, and was settled by farmers and ranchers before the 1880s. The arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad instigated a land boom in the area. Farmers and ranchers believing they had found an agricultural haven, flocked to the area. Cattle and sheep were pastured in the open fields which is now the park. However, the farming which existed was to gradually give way to a new commodity, oil. In the late 1800s oil was discovered in the region which caused an oil boom. Multiple oil companies drilled throughout the foothills of Orange County. Oil towns developed with the company owning the houses, stores and the land. One such town was the town of Olinda, located on what is now park land. Olinda thrived as an oil boom town until the oil fields began to shut down in the 1940s. (What is still neat is that you can still see some operating oil wells on the far hills while on your hike in Carbon Canyon Regional Park, as seen in the picture with the paragraph.)

As Orange County grew, demand for protection from floods also grew. One source of repeated floods in Orange County was Carbon Canyon Creek. The area was studied and it was concluded that an earth-fill dam at the mouth of the canyon would be most effective at preventing floods in this portion of Northern Orange County. Work began on the Carbon Canyon Dam in 1959 and by 1965 a 114 acre area upstream from the dam was chosen as the site for Carbon Canyon Regional Park, which was opened to the Public in 1975. The last physical evidence of the oil town of Olinda became a memory with the development of the dam.  What is most interesting about this history of this area is that unlike most areas in Orange County, Carbon Canyon has returned to its more natural state and now has native plants and animals once again inhabiting the area. When on the trail near Carbon Canyon Dam (pictured with this paragraph) you feel like you are in a totally different place, especially given the unique history of Carbon Canyon Regional Park.

Additionally, if you have kids and go hiking in Carbon Canyon Regional Park, you can explore the 60 acres of developed parkland in Carbon Canyon Regional Park that is perfect for picnicking, sports, fishing, and has several wonderful playgrounds. However, most hikers will probably want to stick to the Carbon Canyon Creek Nature Trail which travels through the wilderness sections of Carbon Canyon Regional Park. While on the hike you will also notice fun informative signs along the trail telling you about the unique flora and fauna that inhabit Carbon Canyon Regional Park. Make sure to always have your camera ready as you wildlife such as hawks, bobcats, skunks, raccoon, opossums, deer, and the occasional mountain lion can be found here. Additionally, if you do this hike on a warm sunny day make sure to wear sunscreen and bring water as there is limited shade until you reach the Coastal Redwoods. Additionally, while on this hike you can still see some residual scars from the 2008 Triangle Complex fire that ravaged the park. However, the area has made a remarkable comeback since the fire.

The bottom-line is a hike in Carbon Canyon Regional Park is truly enjoyable and allows you the chance to see something truly spectacular and unique in Orange County, a 10 acre grove of Coastal Redwoods.

Rating: Elevation Gain: < 50 ft. (Easy), Distance: 2.6 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike:  1 - 1.5 hours.

View Carbon Canyon Regional Park in a larger map

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