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Outdoor Recreation Safety & Stewardship

When exploring the San Luis Rey Watershed, or any outdoor area, these safety and stewardship practices should be followed by you and your group.  This will help protect both you and your groups, as well as the surrounding environment.  Outdoor recreation should always be fun and safe.



Check local weather conditions & be prepared!

Suggestions for what to bring:

  • Water (extra if you bring your dog)
  • Sunscreen
  • Appropriate clothing & footwear
  • Insect repellant
  • A first aid kit (gauze & tape, blister pads, compression/support bandage, antiseptic spray, etc.)
  • Snacks

Unless the area is designated leash free, keep your dog on a leash

  • This protects your dog from running away, poison oak, snakes, other animals, etc.
  • You are legally responsible for what your dog does, so keep it leashed
  • You can get poison oak from petting your dog after he/she is exposed to it

Do not attempt to touch, follow or feed wildlife—you can be injured by an animal or exposed to disease from fleas and ticks

Be aware of your surroundings

  • Watch trail and edges for snakes
  • Watch for spider webs across the trail
  • Avoid brushing against vegetation to avoid ticks, stinging nettle, and poison oak
  • Know what poison oak looks like
  • Watch and listen for other hikers, equestrians, bicyclists and animals

Stay on designated trails

  • You could get lost or injured
  • You could end up in a patch of poison oak
  • A rattlesnake or poisonous spider could be hidden in the undergrowth or leaf litter

Bring a trail map

If you go alone, make sure someone knows where you are and when you expect to be back

Check the recreation area’s website, visitor center or information kiosk for site-specific information such as:

  • Recent mountain lion, bear or other animal sightings
  • Trail difficulty ratings
  • Trail distance and expected travel time (to make sure you have enough supplies and stamina)

Know your physical limits


Two women cycling in the forest

Recreation on Palomar Mountain




Check recreation area’s rules

  • Dogs (some parks don’t allow pets)
  • Parking (road shoulder parking may be prohibited because of erosion or for vegetation protection)
  • Entrance (some parks require permits or fee payment)

Be courteous to other trail/recreation area users and obey posted signs

Don’t collect or mark on anything (“take only pictures”)

  • This includes plants, fungi, rocks, and animals
  • Do not etch, scratch, or write on trees or rocks

Pack out what you bring in (“leave only footprints”)

  • This includes orange rinds, banana peels, and other organic material
  • If you see trash on the trail that doesn’t pose a hazard, practice good stewardship by packing it out
  • If there’s trash that appears to pose a hazard, report it to the manager/park ranger
  • If you bring your dog, bring waste bags and pick up after him/her

Stay on designated trails

  • Cutting switchbacks causes erosion that ruins the trail & encourages others to do the same
  • Forging unofficial trails damages habitat and encourages others to do the same
  • Some areas adjacent to trails may be sensitive habitat and you could disturb or injure an innocent critter or special plant

Teach others about being good stewards of the environment

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