Since 1977, the Cold Creek Docents have been leading nature walks in the Cold Creek area of the Santa Monica Mountains near Calabasas, California. Regularly scheduled public nature walks are conducted at Cold Creek Valley Preserve, Cold Creek Canyon Preserve, and along various trails in the Cold Creek Basin. The walks are publicized in the Santa Monica Mountains National Park Service's Outdoors quarterly calendar and in the Cold Creek Docent newsletter. Weekdays, docent-naturalists lead chaparral ecology and archaeology field study programs for schools in the greater Los Angeles area.
The Cold Creek Docents are the environmental education affiliate of the Mountains Restoration Trust, a non-profit public-benefit land trust based in Malibu. The Trust owns the Cold Creek Canyon and the Cold Creek Valley Preserve, both of which are adjacent to the historic Stunt Ranch homestead.
The Cold Creek area contains one of the most diverse plant regions in the Santa Monica Mountains. In pristine Cold Creek Canyon Preserve, ancient sandstone plates arise from aromatic chaparral scrub, lush oak woodlands and streamside habitats. There are rocky grottoes, waterfalls, unexpected canyon vistas, and a boulder home once occupied by a german gold miner.
Cold Creek Valley Preserve offers an easy walk along the perennial Cold Creek and across a gently rolling chaparral scrub basin surrounded by up-turned sedimentary sandstones and intrusive basalt (igneous-volcanic) dikes. A wide variety of bird life and micro-climates are encountered along the trail. Both Preserves contain specimens of the prehistoric red shank shrub.
The Stunt-High Trail has two segments leading to the Backbone Trail at the top of Saddle Peak. (The Backbone Trail extends 55 miles along the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains.) The lower segment offers streamside, grassland, oak woodland and chaparral habitats while the upper trail segment offers a miniature forest of manzanita and California lilac, with outcroppings of eroded sandstone boulders.
The Stunt-High, Calabasas Peak, Topanga Skyline, Cold Creek, Yucca and Backbone Trails are public trails; no permit or reservations are required. However, the Cold Creek Canyon Preserve Trail requires a permit if you wish to enter without a docent. Call for a permit from the Mountains Restoration Trust: 818-346-9675
To make arrangements for a docent-led walk for groups of 6 or more to tour Cold Creek area trails, call the Mountains Restoration Trust at (818) 346-9620.
There are no drinking, picnicking or toilet facilities along any of the trails. Wear shoes with good tread, and carry drinking water. Please demonstrate your care for our precious resources by not picking flowers, staying on the trail and out of the creek, and carrying out your trash.
Cold Creek Docent programs and the Katherine Spensley Nature Education Center are supported by memberships, donations, and grants. As a member of the Docents support team, you will receive a discount on lectures, workshops and special events. You will receive a membership card and a periodic newsletter listing upcoming events. In addition, you will receive priority access to the pristine 750-acre Cold Creek Canyon Preserve.
Your tax-deductible contribution will provide funding for educational supplies, scientific equipment, display and teaching materials, nature center maintenance, printing, and postage.
The Cold Creek Docents operate under the guidance of by-laws which are available upon request. A monthly business meeting is open to anyone interested in supporting Docent goals. Meetings are generally held in the offices of the MRT, and the date is published in the Docent newsletter, or call the Docent message service at 818-346-9620.