For the perfect blend of modern amenities and nature, visit Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Orange County, CA! While not known for its running, hiking, or biking trails, it is one of the best places in the region to gather the family for a fun day in the sun.
Its location in Southern California makes it easy to reach too, and as we’ve found on numerous visits (and as we show below), the park has fantastic amenities for a day trip.
One of the most unique features of Carbon Canyon Regional Park is the magnificent redwood tree grove here that spans 10 acres within the park boundary. These larger-than-life trees have the ability to soothe, humble, and amaze visitors, all at once. If you’re in the area or passing through, this park is a worthwhile stop and the perfect place to admire Redwoods without a long drive to the northern portion of the state.
Below we at things to do in Carbon Canyon Regional Park, as well as the trails here, lake activities, and amenities. But first a little history lesson….. we promise it’s interesting!
The History of Carbon Canyon Regional Park
When the Santa Fe Railroad was brought to this area of California, a land boom began. Farmers from all over flocked to the area to set up their livestock pastures. However soon after they moved here there was a different commodity discovered in the area – oil.
Oil drastically changed the industry in the area and that became the main focus. There was a big oil town, Olinda, that developed and thrived until shutting down in the 1940s.
Once the oil boom slowed, the people in the area were facing extreme flooding coming from the Carbon Canyon Creek so they decided to erect a dam in the area to mitigate the flooding. In 1965, a 124-acre area upstream from the dam was designated as the Carbon Canyon Regional Park!
The park opened to the public in 1975 and since then the area has started to return back to its natural state and is now a beautiful wilderness reserve. The town of Olinda has all but disappeared and outdoor enthusiasts now frequent the area. (Recommended: Breathtaking Castles in California).
The park grounds are well kept and the amenities are top-notch. For a fun family game of pickup tennis, enjoy the lighted tennis courts within the park.
If you are in a large group and need something bigger, you can play a baseball game on the field here. The field even includes backstops to make the game that much better. There are also volleyball courts on-site, so no matter what sport your family enjoys, you can play it here. To reserve a sports field you can call the park office – find the number here.
If you have small kiddos in your group who would rather waste the day away on the playground, they’ll love Carbon Canyon Regional Park. The playground here offers different structures and slides to play on, as well as benches for you to sit and make sure they’re on their best behavior!
The park office is open on weekdays from 8 AM to 4 PM in case you have any questions before or during your visit. Additionally, the park is open year-round, but has seasonal hours depending on the time of year:
- Fall-Winter hours: 7 AM to 6 PM PST
- Spring-Summer hours: 7 AM to 9 PM PDT
The only cost to enjoy the park is parking. Parking is $3 per vehicle during the week and $5 per vehicle on the weekend. The cost of parking may fluctuate on some holidays or special events.
Lake Adventures and fishing at Carbon Canyon
All the best parks have some type of water to enjoy, and Carbon Canyon Regional Park is no different. There is a 4-acre lake in the park that supports all kinds of recreation. It’s a great spot for catching fish and has two different piers to catch fish from, so you can get to wherever they are biting most during your visit!
Our tip: One of the best photo-ops in the park can actually be found at the lake. With the beautiful water placed in front of the natural backdrop of the park, you can snap a great picture to remember your visit.
Park Trails and Hiking at Carbon Canyon
As mentioned before, this park isn’t known for its trails, but it does offer some easy walking paths to enjoy.
If you’re looking for trails with serious distance or more challenging inclines, visit the neighboring Chino Hills State Park which connects on the east side of Carbon Canyon Park. However the two trails within Carbon Canyon are:
- Carbon Canyon Loop: This is a paved 1.1-mile path that is good for leisurely strolls and accessible for all fitness levels. There is no elevation change on this trail, but it does run through some beautiful areas of the park. It’s also very well shaded so it’s a great option to see the park without too much sun exposure.
- California Redwoods Excursion: The redwoods in Carbon Canyon Park aren’t as massive as their counterparts in northern CA, but they’re still enjoyable to explore. The Redwoods Excursion path is a 1.4-mile out-and-back trail that showcases the more rugged section of the park and features Redwood trees.
- Equestrian Trail: Along the south side of the park, there is a trail that can be used by horses and is a bit longer than the other trails in the park. The downside to this trail is that it’s relatively exposed to the sun, so be sure to bring sun protection and plenty of water to stay hydrated.
To see these trails, restrooms, picnic areas and more, have a look at this free Carbon Canyon Regional Park map here.
Picnic Areas at Carbon Canyon
Carbon Canyon Regional Park is meant for picnics and BBQs! This park offers multiple picnic areas of varying sizes and there are even group picnic areas that can be reserved in advance. To reserve a picnic shelter/area, contact the park online here.
The picnic areas are equipped with tables and restrooms so all you have to do is bring your food and family!
Dogs are permitted in Carbon Canyon as long as they’re on leashes, so don’t be afraid to bring your furry family member along with you. Make sure you pick up any waste from your dog before you leave to keep the park clean for future visitors!
Carbon Canyon Regional Park is Ready for You!
When you’re planning your next family gathering, whether it’s a large family reunion or just a day in the park with your kids, don’t skip over Carbon Canyon Regional Park.
Its fantastic amenities and large number of activities will ensure you don’t have to think about a single thing during the day, except having fun! The park is a wonderful little spot for all ages and the perfect place to admire Redwoods without a long drive to the northern portion of the state.