oaks preserve is free and open
Please register your visit on the sign-in sheet near the Picnic Area.
Please observe these rules while visiting the oaks preserve to protect its undisturbed and natural condition
remember... this is private property
· No hunting, fishing, camping or collecting of specimens
· No alcoholic beverages, radios, motor vehicles or pets
· No fires, firearms, paintball, or weapons of any kind
· No smoking or littering - take all your trash out with you
· Leave gates as you find them, either open or shut
The oaks preserve is free and open to the public from dawn to dusk.
The best seasons to visit are spring (March, April, May) and fall (September, October, November), but anytime will be rewarding. Visiting several times a year will give you a better opportunity to experience the changes with the seasons.
- Late February through May - many wildflowers are blooming.
- Mid April the winter birds leave and the summer birds arrive.
- April and May is a good time to observe the ground rodents - rabbits, squirrels and weasels, as they enjoy the tasty spring growth in the meadow (or baby rodents in the weasels' case).
- Late May in the east meadow - Yerba Mansa, or Lizard Tail, is in full bloom.
- Late May and early June - California Blackberries are ripe. Get them before a hot spell, their season is short.
- Late June through early August, the wild plums are ripe on the Swamp Trail.
- Late July through October the Himalayan blackberries and the elderberries are ripe. Look for the tiny jumping galls under any valley oak tree. Other galls are beginning to form.
- Late July through mid-September hummingbirds are migrating south. You may see an Allen's, Anna's, Black-chinned, or a rare Rufous hummingbird flying through on their way back to South and Central America. They'll come through again, but in the opposite direction next February. Keep your home feeders full!
- Saltgrass on the east meadow is very good from late May through October, except after a rain.
- Early July watch the Western Kingbirds teach their fledglings to fly and hunt. Observe them from the picnic area or near the caretaker's site. They put on quite a show! They will leave in early August.
- Late August through October the California Grapes are ripe.
(The best grapes are always on the Rose Trail.)
- Mid August through October spiders are very observable. The Golden and Banded Garden Spiders (Argiopes) on the Grapevine Trail are especially intriguing to watch as they hang in the center of their enormous webs. They will repair their webs every day. These beauties are harmless, but vulnerable. Please don't harm them.
- Mid August through November wasp galls are at their best. In October and November carefully break open a gall to find a mature wasp ready to emerge from the colorful Urchin and Hershey Kiss Galls. Collect a handful of Jumping Galls in July or August, keep them in a closed container and see what emerges in a month or so.
- Mid October through November antlions are very active in the soft sand on either side of the dirt road. Look for their round ant traps (pits) and drop a black ant in one. Watch as the antlion larva, at the bottom of the hole, flicks sand up to force the ant to slide to the bottom of the trap.
- Wintering birds begin to arrive in September and stay through mid April. After the leaves fall is a very good time to observe our winter guests.
This nature preserve is a 'user-friendly' nature preserve. There is no poison ivy, poison oak, bears or mountain lions on the preserve. However, milk thistle, bull thistle, yellow star thistle, stinging nettle, poison hemlock and wild rose can be hazardous.
Bring bottled water - water is available in the picnic area only, not on the trails.
It is recommended that you wear light colored clothing, closed shoes with socks and a hat or cap.
Wear insect repellent to minimize irritating insect bites during any outdoor experience.
Hiking off-trail will increase your odds of picking up ticks.
Hike on-trail to avoid disturbing ground nesting birds or destroying young sapling valley oak trees.
Be sure and know the proper identification of the fruit or herb before consuming it at the Preserve. Blackberries, plums and elderberries are safe to consume. However, nightshade, datura and hemlock are deadly.
It's okay to taste the blackberries, saltgrass and plums, but do not collect specimens of any plant or insect without prior written consent from the property owners.
August 2001 - A visitor recently reported seeing a rattlesnake near the parking lot. Please be cautious anytime you enter nature, observe your surroundings, watch and listen for danger signs and go the other way.
Look closely at plants before touching!