Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
Carbon Canyon Nature Trail
- Location: East of Brea, in north Orange County. From highway 57 in Brea, take the Lambert Road exit and head east (left if you are coming from the north, right if from the south) for 2.8 miles. On the way, Lambert becomes Carbon Canyon Road (highway 142). Carbon Canyon Park is on the right. Parking is $3 per vehicle on weekdays; $5 on weekends and $7 on holidays. If you are coming from the east on highway 142, the park will be on the left, 7.6 miles from Chino Hills. Once inside the park, take a left and drive to the end of the road. The nature trail leaves from the southeast corner of the parking lot, near by the signed trail to Telegraph Canyon in Chino Hills State Park.
- Agency: Carbon Canyon Regional Park
- Distance: 2 miles
- Elevation gain: 100 feet
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Best season: Year round
- USGS topo map: “Yorba Linda”
- Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Orange County
- More information: here
- Rating: 3
Pint-sized Carbon Canyon Regional Park is a good place to keep in mind during the summer months, when much of north Orange County is too hot for hiking. The mile-long nature trail here is a good introduction to hiking for people who have wanted to get into it but don’t know where to start, and veteran hikers who use this park to access Chino Hills trail can use it as a warm-up.
The trail leave the parking lot, descends into Carbon Canyon and doubles back to the west, crossing the stream. The nature trail parallels the athletic fields and the pond before reaching a junction. Head left, and soon you arrive at a grove of coast redwoods. Hard-core botanists might not like the presence of these non-native trees here, but they provide a taste of the Sierras–and the only real shade on the route. (While exposed, the trail is short and level enough so that even on hot summer days, with adequate sunscreen and water, it’s easy to do.)
After relaxing in the shade of the redwoods, retrace your steps to the parking lot. If the weather is cool enough, you can easily access to Telegraph Canyon in neighboring Chino Hills State Park.