Soil organic carbon (SOC) is one of the key components for assessing soil quality. Meanwhile, the changes in the stocks SOC may have large potential impact on global climate. It is increasingly important to estimate the SOC stock precisely and to investigate its variability. In this study, Yangjuangou watershed was selected to investigate the SOC distribution under different land uses. We found that SOC concentration decreased with increasing soil depth under all land uses and was significantly different across the vertical soil profile (P < 0.01). However, considering effect of land use on SOC, it is only significant (P < 0.01) in the topsoil (0–5 cm) layer. This indicated that land use has a large effect on the stocks of SOC in the surface soil. The stratification ratio of SOC > 1.2 may mean that soil quality is improving. The order of the SOC density (0–30 cm) under different land uses is forestland > orchard land > grassland > immature forestland > terraced cropland. The SOC stock is found to be as large as 2.67 × 10 t (0–30 cm) in this watershed. Considering time effect of restoration, the slope cropland just abandoned is more efficient for SOC accumulation than trees planted in the semi-arid hilly loess area.