Visitor Information

Project work at McLaughlin

The McLaughlin Reserve is open to use (by application) for qualified research and educational purposes. All use must be approved by and coordinated with the Resident Director. The Reserve is not open to general public use, but public programs with nature-based interests or projects may apply for access.

Reserve users must adhere to our procedures and rules. These rules have been developed by the University in partnership with the primary landowner, Homestake Mining Company of California.


Those interested in using the reserve should contact the reserve manager to arrange a reserve tour and to discuss the feasibility of the planned use. 


Before visiting the reserve for the first time, all persons not affiliated with the University of California must read and sign the Natural Reserve System Waiver of Liability, Assumption of Risk, and Indemnity Agreement.  Classes not affiliated with the University of California, should obtain and return waivers before the class arrives. A parent or legal guardian must sign the release agreements for minors.


Apply to access and use the reserve here.


There is no charge for day-use of the Reserve by approved applicants. Rates for all overnight stays are $8.00/night for University of California affiliates, and $10.00/night for others. For exceptional assistance with your group/project, staff time may be billed at a rate of $38/$49 per hour (UC vs non-UC rate) for stewards' time or $49/$65 per hour for director's time. While staff time can be requested, staff may not always have available time to fulfill requests.


    After obtaining permission from the Director to use the Reserve, inform the Director of each visit to the Reserve and provide the name and affiliation of each person accompanying you. Each non-UC employee must complete a waiver; those under 18 must have a waiver completed by a legal guardian. 
    Provide the Director with location information of all areas on the Reserve that you will use in your studies or activities. 
    Reserve staff must be informed, PRIOR to their arrival, of all people you wish to bring to the Reserve/have visit you at the Reserve. Each person must complete a waiver, or if under 18 that waiver must be completed by a legal guardian prior to arrival at the Reserve. 
  4. NO SMOKING on the reserve. 
    1. Camping in any location is by permission only. If you are using the field station but prefer sleeping in your tent instead of in a room, feel free to set up your tent next to the field station; this does not require prior approval.
    2. No campfires or campstoves allowed without permission from the Resident Directors. This is a high fire-hazard area.
  6. PETS
    Pets are not allowed anywhere on the Reserve without permission from the Director.
    Most roads on the Reserve are unpaved. Vehicles must stay on established roads. Speed limit is 20 mph on unpaved roads. Higher clearance vehicles are recommended; ask staff about use of roads in lower-clearance vehicles. Seasonally, roads may close due to weather or wash-outs. 
  8. GATES
    1. The gate combination changes regularly. Ask for the current gate combo when you notify the Director of your next visit.
    2. Close all gates behind you, even if you found a gate open. Never leave open any gate that you opened, even if there is another person a few minutes behind you. One exception:  the main gate to the field station is kept open between the hours of 6:30 am - 4:00 pm on weekdays. If you find it open outside of those hours, please close it. 
    3. For all gates that have more than one lock on them, ensure that you do not lock out any other locks on the chain.
    Read and abide by all regulations on field station use that are posted in the field station. The main policies are available here.
    Do not disturb any flags or other markers in the field. Be careful of research plots obscured by vegetation.
    Do not enter the Mine Pit area, Davis Creek Reservoir, Tailings pond, buildings/structures other than the field station, or any areas signed as requiring special permission for access. Access to these areas is only through special approval. Discuss your needs with the Reserve Director.


When you get to the Reserve on your first visit, seek out staff for a map, orientation, and emergency procedures and contact informatiion.

In an emergency, first call 911, then contact Reserve staff immediately thereafter.  We can help direct emergency response personnel to your location; our numbers are posted in the field station.

First responders take at least 20 minutes to get here. Responders are often unfamiliar with roads and terrain in this area, so you need to provide detailed information to the emergency response personnel. 

Nearest Hospital: Redbud Hospital, in the town of Clearlake, 30 minutes from the Reserve. To get to the hospital from the Reserve, drive west from the Reserve to Lower Lake, turn right at the traffic light, and turn right again at the second traffic light (18th Avenue). 

Be aware that much of the Reserve property is still owned by Barrick/Homestake Mining Company. The mine has employees on site who are involved in environmental monitoring and remediation.  Reserve users must respect work needs and safety policies of the mining company.

Do not enter/access any heavy equipment, structures or facilities (besides the field station) without special permission.  Discuss with Reserve staff any activities that will take you near equipment, buildings, pipelines, powerlines, etc., prior to engaging in these activities. Some areas are open only by permission of the mining company. These locations include (but are not limited to) the Davis Creek Reservoir, Tailings Pond, Mine Pit, and all areas that have been directly impacted by past mining. If you wish to use any of these areas, the Reserve Directors will work with you to seek access permission from Barrick. After approval, you will need to comply with additional safety policies of Barrick. Not all Barrick-approval zones are obvious; to avoid accidentally starting work in a restricted zone, please clear all your research locations with the Reserve Director before beginning.

Carry a spare tire, a jack, first aid equipment, and extra water.

Cell phone service is patchy; they tend to work better at high points. The Reserve also provides two-way radios for loan to researchers; these provide direct communication with Reserve and Barrick/Homestake staff.

Potential hazards include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Heat/Sun exposure.  The most common cause of field injury! Drink abundant water, and wear appropriate clothing.
  • Rattlesnakes. Wear long pants and hiking boots, and use caution around rocks, logs, or in tall grass. 
  • Poison Oak. Common across the reserve. "Leaves of three, let them be."  If you suspect you have been exposed, consider washing with Tecnu and/or taking an antihistamine.
  • Ticks. Ticks in this area may carry Lyme disease and other illnesses. Routine body-checks after field visits are advised. If bitten, monitor symptoms and consult with a physician. 
  • Mountain Lions. Avoid hiking alone, make noise, and if confronted, throw things and yell. Do not bend down. Do not turn your back or run. 
  • Rugged Terrain. Quail Ridge is a wildland environment. There are downed logs, unstable rocks, steep slopes, cliffs, ground squirrel holes, steep and narrow roads, and many other potential hazards. Use caution and good judgment.
  • Hantavirus. This is a potentially fatal disease caused by a virus associated with mice. Do not handle live or dead rodents or their feces or urine. Use wet-cleaning techniques when cleaning up reserve facilities.
  • Hunting and trespassing may occur in the area. Please notifying the Reserve Manager of any inappropriate uses of the reserve.