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Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve

Photo by M Rejmanek
Burned stairs


ADVISORY: National Weather Service is forecasting Red Flag Conditions (high fire danger) for Saturday and Sunday, June 11-12. We strongly advise against hiking under fire conditions.

TRAILS REOPENED AS OF MAY 15th. Please park in new lot on the north side of Highway 128 just past Putah Creek Bridge.

SAFETY ADVISORY: Be aware of intense heat and fire danger this weekend! Please avoid trails under extreme heat conditions.

We at the UC Davis Natural Reserve System extend our thanks for all the community support over the past nine months. With the assistance of donors and volunteers, we have repaired most of the trail damage that occurred during the Wragg Fire of July 2015. The reserve still has a long way to go, and soils, plants and wildlife are still fragile. We ask everyone to tread lightly, stay on trails, and pack out all waste. Be on the lookout for research project infrastructure, the sign that scientists are making the most of the fire to learn about its effects on our regional ecosystems.

Parking and access to the site are changing. Follow the signs to the new parking and access trail starting May 15th. Also be aware that there is no water and no toilet facilites at the site. Because Stebbins Cold Canyon is a research and teaching preserve, dogs are not allowed on the trail.

Learn more about the post-fire recovery at Stebbins Cold Canyon here.

An armed assault (handgun) occurred on these trails on Friday, March 25th.
Suspect is still at large. For your safety, please keep out during trail closure.
Anyone with information should contact the Solano County Sheriff’s office (707) 421-7090

Our date of re-opening to hikers is May 15, 2016. For ideas on other hikes in the region, see Until that date, access to the site is limited to approved researchers and classes, as well as to guided public events by RSVP only (see below).

Why is the reserve closed?
The fire that burned through the reserve in July of 2015 was especially intense. The wildlife that survived the fire is currently concentrated in the few areas of the reserve that did not burn. With limited food and shelter resources, the animals will be in a precarious state until fresh vegetation starts to grow back in. We are minimizing additional stress on this wildlife by limiting disturbance from hikers. The photos below were taken by Professor Janet Foley's laboratory (UC Davis Veternary Medicine) in late October; they show the last surviving dusky-footed woodrat along Cold Creek and a resident Gray Fox.

Woodrat survivor Fox survivor

In addition, trails sustained much damage. Large fallen trees still block portions of the trail. Significant trail restoration will be necessary to prevent erosion when rains arrive this fall. We request that hikers respect trail closures as we undertake site assessment and repair. If you are interested in volunteering for trail restoration workdays (already underway), please contact Paul Havemann.

The reserve remains open to authorized researchers. Please contact the reserve director for information on entry to the site.

Donate to the restoration effort!
Your gift will help us purchase materials needed to complete trail renovations before reopening. The community has already contributed more than $5,000 to this effort - thank you! Click here to go to the gift form dedicated to Stebbins Cold Canyon trail restoration.

About the reserve

The UC Davis Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve, set in a steep canyon of the northern California Coast Range, showcases the impressive landscapes, human history, and plant and animal communities of the region. The reserve has a mix of undisturbed habitats, including grasslands, blue oak woodland, chaparral shrublands, riparian woodland, and a seasonal stream.

The University maintains the reserve primarily as a site for teaching and research activities. Before working on or bringing a class group to the reserve, please fill out a use application. In most cases, your application will be processed within one business day.

About the Natural Reserve System

The mission of the University of California Natural Reserve System (NRS) is to contribute to the understanding and wise management of the Earth and its natural systems by supporting university-level teaching, research, and public service at protected natural areas throughout California. In 1965, the University of California began creating a network of protected sites that would represent California’s rich ecological diversity.

These outdoor classrooms and laboratories make long-term studies of California’s natural environment possible. Most NRS reserves are closed to the public to protect research projects from disturbance – Stebbins Cold Canyon is a rare exception where research, teaching and public access coexist. The NRS is the largest university-operated system of natural reserves in the world. The NRS reserves are used by students, teachers, and researchers from the University of California, and from educational institutions around the world. Help us protect the educational mission of this site by respecting all signs of research activity (flagging, plots, marked plants, insect traps, etc.) that you may see along the trails.