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Dick Smith Wilderness

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The United States Congress designated the Dick Smith Wilderness (map) in 1984 and it now has a total of 71,275 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the Forest Service.


Dick Smith--writer, artist, photographer--was deeply devoted to preservation of the wild and was called by some the "conscience of Santa Barbara." The Wilderness that bears his name is an area of extremely rugged terrain with elevations varying from 3,750 feet along the Cayuma Rim to 6,541 feet atop Madulce Peak to the west. Chaparral dominates the vegetation, but a splendid collection of mixed conifers grows around Madulce Peak. To the east lies the more-open Rancho Nuevo region, with massive sandstone formations and stands of Douglas fir and Great Basin sage. In the higher country, several creeks flow year-round in Indian, Mono, Alamar, Don Victor, Santa Barbara, and other canyons. Black bears, deer, mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes reside in the area, and several native species of snakes have been identified (including rattlers--wear your boots). Only a slim road corridor separates Dick Smith from San Rafael Wilderness to the west. You'll find eight main trails and several side trails totaling about 49 miles; human use is light. Chumash Indians, Spanish soldiers, and early settlers used to cross this area via the Alamar and Puerta Suela Trails. The Bear Canyon Trail provides easy access from the east and crosses into the Wilderness after about two miles.

Planning to Visit the Dick Smith Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Dick Smith Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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