When visiting the Santa Monica Mountains, there are some things to consider to help ensure an enjoyable visit. Wise planning and following a few safety tips can mean the difference between fun and frustration.
On the Trail
Whether on foot, bicycle, or horseback, there are a variety of ways to explore the public trails in the park. International symbols are found at many trailheads, indicating whether a recreational activity is allowed. A slash through any of the symbols indicates that the specific activity is not allowed.
Trails may be closed to certain user groups due to steepness, potential for erosion, or to protect natural and cultural features. Trails may also be closed to all users during or after a significant rainfall or wildland fire.
Plants and Animals
Poison Oak can cause an itchy rash any time of the year. Avoid contact by learning to recognize it, staying on trails, and keeping your pet leashed. The leaves can be green or red and drop off during the fall and winter. Wash clothes separately and bathe thoroughly if you contact the plant. Several brands of skin treatments are available at most drug or outdoor stores.
Rattlesnakes, while potentially dangerous to us, are an important part of the Santa Monica Mountains ecosystems. Avoid them by staying on trail, watching where you step, and keeping your dog on leash. If you see one, walk around it, allowing for plenty of room. Bites are extremely rare. However, if bitten, stay calm, keep bite area lower than your heart, and call for help.
Mountain lions are wild predators but usually do not confront humans. If you encounter one, make yourself as large as a possible by standing tall and holding out your arms. Pick up children to appear larger. Do not run or make any sudden moves.
Ticks are small arthropods (1/8”) that feed on the blood of mammals such as a coyotes and deer. They can be found on grasses and brush waiting for a host to pass by. Wearing light colored clothing makes ticks easier to spot. Tuck your pants into your boots and your shirt into your pants. Check yourself and your pet regularly.
Prompt tick removal may prevent disease