Suggestions for hiking/iNatting spots in California along I-5 between Tracy and Santa Clarita

Hi fellow iNatters,

This is a super-specific topic heading, I know, but I was hoping it would narrow down what I’m looking for to those who know this seemingly barren stretch of Interstate 5 and might point me to some places to hike and iNat.

Once a month I make this 400 mile drive to help my Mom out with her chemotherapy, and I figure since I am passing through these areas, there must be good spots to hike for a couple of hours and do some iNatting.

So far, I have pretty well explored the San Gabriel mountains between Tujunga and Sierra Madre. I’ve also hiked the Frenchman’s Flat picnic area in Castaic, but I’d love to hear if you know of some good areas for observing plants/insects/animals in other place like:
N. Side of Angeles National Forest
E. Side of Los Padres National Forest
San Luis Reservoir area

anywhere else along this arid stretch! And thank you in advance!

ocean_beach_goth aka “L.J.”


Maybe Mt Pinos in Los Padres? It’s really nice up there in the summer and I think it’s about 30 minutes west of the 5. There’s an endemic chipmunk up there I have yet to spot …


The area of liebre mountain and sandberg just east of 5 near the grapevine is also really neat and under-Inaturalisted though access to some of it requires four wheel drive. Maybe some tejon ranch trails too. It requires planning in advance to get access but the wind wolves preserve is amazing.


A short detour onto 152 near Los Banos takes you up to the Upper Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area and Pacheco State Park. They’re only about 20 km from 1-5 and Pacheco State Park as a parking area and easy-access trails, both overlook San Louis Reservoir.

The General Location Map (PDF) on the Upper Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area page also shows some other nearby wildlife areas in the valley that would be easy to get to.

A bit further north on HWY 130 to the west of I-5 is Frank Raines Park which is divided up into several portions, some for non-motorized activities and a portion for OHV activities. That’s about 30 km to the west of I-5 and looks to be in some nice, somewhat rugged terrain with lots of valleys, seasonal creeks, and canyon-like areas.

Del Puerto Canyon, the waterway along which HWY 130 goes is pretty interesting and has a lot to see and explore.

Right outside of Tracy the Coral Hollow/Tesla Road that connects Tracy to Livermore has some nice areas as well, in particular Mitchell Ravine in Tesla Park.


I was just here and it’s a great spot.

I haven’t made it to Fort Tejon/Grapevine Creek yet, but that appears to be an overlap region of several endemic land snail species that we could use more observations of. :)

The Sespe Wilderness west of Castaic is also pretty good, but I’m not sure how accessible it is from the east. It’s mostly accessible from Hwy 33 (one of my favorite drives) and Lockwood Valley Rd but you could possibly come up from Hwy 126 too. If you end up that far west I could give some more specific sites I’m familiar with.


Thank you! This is a great suggestion!

Wonderful idea- thank you!

This is incredibly helpful! Thank you for the recommendations and detailed links. I’m so grateful!

Wonderful! And of course the chance to look for endemic lands snail species… how could I pass that up? Many thanks for these suggestions!

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