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Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve

California newt
Piperia orchid
Pool in Cold Creek

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 reserve is open year-round to hikers, from sunrise to sunset. An entrance donation of $2.00 per visitor is requested at the informational kiosk near the reserve entrance. Stebbins Cold Canyon is located about 15 minutes west of Winters, California. See links above for driving directions and trail maps. Please take a look at potential hazards and reserve policies on the hiking page before heading out.

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.

Do not leave valuables in cars parked along Highway 128; break-ins have been reported.

Public Events and Activities

Kids activities – Where Does Your Water Come From? Nature Walk - Saturday, April 19th
Have you ever wondered where the water you use every day comes from? Join us at Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve as we walk along the creek and think about our interactions with the water cycle. This family-oriented nature walk is aimed for 6-10 year olds and their families. Saturday, April 19th, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM. Meet at the trailhead. Please email Ania at to reserve a spot for the nature walk!

Kids activities – Thirsty Plants Nature Walk - Saturday, April 19th
Join us at Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve for a guided scavenger hunt as we explore the different ways plants adapt to drought. This family-oriented nature walk is aimed for 6-10 year olds and their families. Saturday, April 19th, 11:00 AM - Noon. Meet at the trailhead. Please email Ania at to reserve a spot for the nature walk!

Please email if you like to be added to a list of upcoming events!

For UC Davis Undergraduates: Environmental Outreach Internships

Near-vertical layers of sandstone in the ridge north of Monticello Dam.

Are you a UC Davis student, and a fan of Stebbins Cold Canyon? You can get internship credit for projects linking the Reserve to our communities. We start training and project development in fall quarter. In winter and/or spring quarter, we advertise and implement our public programs. Work with your student peers to lead natural history hikes, family-centered activities, or other outdoor projects. Contact Jeffrey Clary for more information.

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.