Tall Tales: The Coastal Redwoods of Carbon Canyon Regional Park

“Trees are Earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.” – Rabindranath Tagore 

Do you know that feeling you get when you stumble upon something for the first time, only to realize that you’ve passed that way on numerous occasions and never cared to look a little closer? That’s the feeling I had when I found out there was a redwood grove in Southern California.

Sometimes, you learn the most wonderful things from taking a moment to chat with a stranger.

“Have you ever been to Carbon Canyon and hiked out to the redwood trees?” Bill Cantu asked. “Some of them are at least 100 feet tall.”

“Wait, what? There’s actually redwood trees growing in Orange County? You gotta be kiddin’ me!” I exclaimed. At first, I figured my excitement was coming from the two ice-cold beers I just happily enjoyed but then it dawned on me, “How did I not know about this? I live 15 minutes from that park and I had no idea!”

After talking with him for a few minutes, I put this little grove on my to-do list.

The following weekend, I visited Carbon Canyon Regional Park, which is located just east of the city of Brea, on Carbon Canyon Road, and took the 1.12-mile self-guiding nature trail to see the 200 young sempervirens for myself.

The tallest of the redwoods, planted in 1975 for the park’s opening, stands at more than 100 feet. The trees are what’s left of 600 seedlings donated to the county after the bank promotion in 1970. The largest of the redwoods in Northern California, by comparison, towers over 368 feet, with a 22-foot diameter trunk.

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It’s quite remarkable to think that these glorious redwoods, which are indigenous to the California coast only as far south as Monterey County, were hanging out right in my backyard. Their survival in this dry corner of Orange County stands as a testament to their strength and resilience.

Usually, they don’t extend more than 50 miles inland.

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The trail is open as weather permits and marked with numbered stakes that take you to various points of interest throughout the park.

At the trailhead, there are signs posted about encountering coyotes, rattlesnakes and even an occasional mountain lion or bobcat. Almost immediately into the hike, you are greeted with exotic flowering elderberry plants, rolling hillsides of wild buckwheat and arundo bamboo, alongside signs that warm of poison oak.

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The trail itself does not have much of an elevation and is a really pleasant walk to go on with the whole family. As you round the last bend, you will begin to see the redwood grove. And at the end of a dusty trail, the serene shady playground beneath the trees welcomes you with open arms.

This 10-acre grove makes it seem like you’re far, far away from home. It’s really a diamond in the rough.

If you want to get a panoramic view of the entire area, you can trek up one of the steep inclines surrounding the grove. Once you’re to the top, it truly puts the beauty of the juxtaposition of these trees sharing the desert foliage into perspective.

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Carbon Canyon Regional Park
4442 Carbon Canyon Road
Brea, CA 92823
(714)973-3160 or (714)973-3162
carboncanyon@ocparks.com

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