Land use changes are known to alter soil organic carbon (SOC) and microbial properties, however, information about how conversion of natural forest to agricultural land use as well as plantations affects SOC and microbial properties in the Changbai Mountains of Northeast China is meager. Soil carbon content, microbial biomass carbon (MBC), basal respiration and soil carbon mineralization were studied in five selected types of land use: natural old-growth broad-leaved Korean pine mixed forest (NF); spruce plantation (SP) established following clear-cutting of NF; cropland (CL); ginseng farmland (GF) previously under NF; and a five-year Mongolian oak young forest (YF) reforested on an abandoned GF, in the Changbai Mountains of Northeast China in 2011. Results showed that SOC content was significantly lower in SP, CL, GF, and YF than in NF. MBC ranged from 304.4 mg/kg in CL to 1350.3 mg/kg in NF, which was significantly higher in the soil of NF than any soil of the other four land use types. The SOC and MBC contents were higher in SP soil than in CL, GF, and YF soils, yielding a significant difference between SP and CL. The value of basal respiration was also higher in NF than in SP, CL, GF, and YF. Simultaneously, higher values of the metabolic quotient were detected in CL, GF, and YF soils, indicating low substrate utilization of the soil microbial community compared with that in NF and SP soil. The values of cumulative mineralized carbon and potentially mineralized carbon (C0) in NF were significantly higher than those in CL and GF, while no significant difference was observed between NF and SP. In addition, YF had higher values of C0 and C mineralization rate compared with GF. The results indicate that conversion from NF into agricultural land (CL and GF) uses and plantation may lead to a reduction in soil nutrients (SOC and MBC) and substrate utilization efficiency of the microbial community. By contrast, soils below SP were more conducive to the preservation of soil organic matter, which was reflected in the comparison of microbial indicators among CL, GF, and YF land uses. This study can provide data for evaluating soils nutrients under different land use types, and serve as references for the rational land use of natural forest in the study area.