Cold Creek Preserve is located in the north central portion of the Santa Monica Mountains. Cold Creek Preserve in total consists of approximately 1600 acres that protects one of southern California’s most pristine free-flowing creeks, Cold Creek, and its surrounding ecosystems. It is one of the few perennial streams in the area. The watershed’s boundaries extend above Mulholland Highway, while the area drained by Cold Creek is about 4.5 miles from a high point at Saddle Peak. The pristine, perennial waters of Cold Creek are critical to the maintenance of east to west wildlife connections through the Santa Monica Mountains. Cold Creek is designated as a Significant Ecological Area (SEA) within the Santa Monica Mountains.
Human habitation in the Cold Creek area dates back over 8,000 years to the Ventureno Chumash. Known prehistoric sites contain artifacts such as tools, bowls, a motor station, a rock shelter and a burial site. After the arrival of Europeans, Cold Creek became the site of homesteads, orchards, ranches and farms. The previous Stunt Ranch is now a 310-acre biological field station, one of 39 sites within the UC Natural Reserve System. In 1984 the Nature Conservancy deeded 525 acres to MRT, which formed the initial portion of Cold Creek Preserve. Since then, MRT has worked in partnership with multiple agencies and property owners to acquire the many parcels that make up Cold Creek Preserve today. We have had success in acquiring key parcels to connect critical segments, such as the east-to-west wildlife corridor that links Topanga State Park and Malibu Creek State Park. Together, MRT, California State Parks, National Park Service, Los Angeles County, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the UC Reserve System manage the Cold Creek basin in order to protect its pristine ecosystem.
Cold Creek is home to a number of unique plants and animals. The relatively undisturbed combination of coastal sage scrub, chaparral and riparian habitat found in Cold Creek is rapidly disappearing from southern California. Locally rare plant species include Plummer’s baccharis, deer grass, stream orchid, yellow-throated phacelia, big-leaf maple, red shank and Humboldt lily. A number of species that are indicated as “threatened” on the endangered species list also call Cold Creek home. These animals are the Cooper’s hawk, mountain quail, yellow warbler, prairie falcon, golden eagle, horned lizard, coastal western whiptail, silvery legless lizard, patch-nosed snake, ring-necked snake, San Diego mountain king snake, two-striped garter snake, desert wood rat, ringtail and three bat species.