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Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve

Photo by Phil Ward
Piperia orchid

Photo Credits: Landscape by Phil Ward, trees by Paul Havemann.



Our estimated date of re-opening to hikers is May 15, 2016 (contingent upon winter/spring weather). For ideas on other hikes in the region, see

Access to the site is currently 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.

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.

Guided walks: get a glimpse behind the gates
UC Davis faculty and staff will be taking you behind the locked gates to see how plants and animals are responding to and recovering from the fire. You will also gain perspective on the trail work that we have undertaken - and what remains to be done - before the area is reopened to hikers. Hikes are free, but space is limited to 15 people/hike, and RSVP is required. Please email Jeffrey Clary for questions and to reserve your spot.

Our first hikes in October/November filled very quickly! Another round of guided hikes is coming soon.

December 5th - To be announced
December 12th - To be announced
December 19th - To be announced

Please stay tuned to this site and to local media. We anticipate many opportunities for volunteers and donations as we work with area partners on an action plan for the site.


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.

We currently allow public use of the trails on the reserve, which can be accessed by trails beginning from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Putah Creek Wildlife Area. We ask that visitors tread lightly and respect posted guidelines and research installations. The reserve is open year-round, from sunrise to sunset; we strongly advise against hiking during periods of high fire danger (Cal Fire notices here).

Please take a look at potential hazards and reserve policies on the hiking page before heading out. Note: there is no water available on-site. Please pack out all trash.

Researchers and instructors are welcomed! 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.