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Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve

Photo by Scott McCusker
Piperia orchid
Pool in Cold Creek

Photo Credits: Landscape by Scott McCusker, California pipevine and fritillary by Adam Clause.

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.

Public Events and Activities

Citizen Science at Stebbins!

Do you love spending time outdoors? Would you like to learn more about native plants? Would you enjoy connecting with UC Davis ecologists and fellow citizen science volunteers? Come check out the new California Phenology Project at Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve!

The goal of this new citizen science program is to open a window into the reserve's phenology--the timing of natural events such as flowering of plants or migration of animals. Learn more about phenology, citizen science, and Stebbins Reserve at our website,

We encourage you to attend our free two-part training for lots of fun with people and plants! Come see whether this unique opportunity to help launch a new research program is right for you. We welcome all experience levels, and will be providing free snacks and fun activities!

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

For UC Davis Undergraduates: Environmental Outreach Internships

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.