Outdoor Safety & Ethics

When visiting the Angeles National Forest, there are some things to consider to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit. This webpage includes important information that you should know before you come to the forest.

In Case of Emergency: Cell coverage can be very limited to non-existent within the forest, so you should not expect to depend on your cell phone in an emergency. If you are in a location with cell phone service, dial 911.


  • Please check Alerts & Notices for any forest updates / restrictions / closures.

Contact your nearest Forest Service office for additional information.


Know Before You Go

Plan Ahead

  • Travel with a buddy or let someone know of your plans.
  • Know where you are going—maps help!
  • Check out the weather and dress appropriately. Take extra clothing and the necessary equipment. The time of year will help determine your needs for your trip.  
  • Carry plenty of water and drink it. Water is not safe to drink from streams and ponds due to possible contamination (giardia. E. coli, salmonella, etc.).
  • Bring snacks, extra clothing, and a flashlight.
  • Wear sun protection, including sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses.
  • Check with a local Forest Service office for information concerning trail conditions and fire restrictions.
  • Please leave the forest clean—dispose of your trash in trash receptacles or bring it back with you.

Plants and Animals

Poison Oak

Poison Oak can cause an itchy rash any time of the year. Avoid contact year-round by learning to recognize it, staying on trails, and keeping your pet leashed. The leaves can be green or  red and drop off during the fall and winter. The woody stems and vines without leaves can also cause an itchy rash. Wash clothes separately and bathe thoroughly if you contact the plant. Several brands of skin treatments are available at most drug or outdoor stores. Always remember "leaves of three leave them be". 

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Rattlesnakes, while potentially dangerous to us, are an important part of the Angeles National  Fore ecosystem. Avoid them by staying on trail, watching where you step, and keeping your dog on leash. Keep your hands and feet where you can see them. If you see one, walk around it with 4-6 feet to spare, allowing for plenty of room. Rattlesnakes can generally strike half the length of their bodies, but only do so when threatened. Bites are extremely rare. However, if bitten, stay calm, keep bite area lower than your heart, and call for help.

Here Are The Biting Ticks In California, Number Of Lyme Cases | Patch

Ticks are small arthropods (1/8”) that feed on the blood of mammals, such as a coyotes and deer. They can be found on grasses and brush  waiting for a host to pass by. Wearing light-colored clothing makes ticks easier to spot. Consider wearing a long-sleeved shirt if weather conditions allow. Tuck your pants into your boots and your shirt into your pants. Check yourself and your pet regularly.

Illustration showing how to remove a tick (Ixodes scapularis pictured).

Prompt tick removal may prevent disease.

1. Use tweezers rather than your fingertips.

2. Grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible.

3. Gently and steadily pull the tick straight out.

4. Apply antiseptic to the area.

5. If parts of the tick break off and remain in your skin or a rash appears, consult your doctor.

6. Consider keeping the tick body in case you need to get it tested later.

Heat Safety

During the summer, expect high temperatures, intense sunlight, and low humidity. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Drink at least one gallon (4 liters) of water per day to replace loss from sweat. Don't forget to eat! You need to take in calories to fuel your outdoor activities. On a hot day, eating salty snacks can help your body replace electrolytes that are lost through sweating.

For sun protection, wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing and a wide-brimmed hat. Apply sunscreen every 2 hours or more to all exposed skin. Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses.

If you feel dizzy, nauseous, or have a headache, get out of the sun immediately and drink water or a sports drink. Dampen clothing to lower body temperature. Be alert for symptoms in others.

Traffic Safety

Forest roads can be narrow and winding. More people die in single-car accidents than by any other means.

  • To avoid an accident, follow the speed limits, shift to a lower gear on steep downhill grades, and wear your seatbelt.
  • Drive defensively. Watch out for others who may not be used to driving mountain roads.
  • All motorcyclists must wear helmets.
  • Stay alive. Don't drink and drive.

Smokey Bear next to a fire danger level sign


The fire danger level and conditions change in the forest based on many factors. Please check this website often. Know what current fire conditions are before you go to the forest. This can make a huge difference in whether you can cook your food or have S’mores, for example. And remember, fireworks are never allowed in any forest at any time.

Safety by Waterfalls / Streams / Creeks 

Forest visitors are reminded to use extreme caution around and near rivers / creeks / waterfalls. These areas can be very slippery. Even stream crossings to waterfalls can be dangerous. Undertows (strong currents in the water) are invisible but deadly! Also, it is extremely important to stay on official trails only. Following user created trails that are not official trails can lead to unsafe routes. 

Do not jump into waterfalls / creeks / streams or other bodies of water. You never know what is in the water beneath you. Rocks and boulders, trees, branches, and other natural or man-made features could cause major injuries, paralysis, or death. This can be true even in places where people have jumped into the water in the past, too. 

Hiking at High Elevations 

Hiking at high elevations (Mt Baldy, Ice House Canyon, Mt. Islip, etc.) in winter/spring/and even early to mid-summer requires experienced mountaineering skills and is not recommended for those unprepared for extreme conditions that can change very quickly.  

The following is strongly recommended when accessing areas with extreme alpine conditions, e.g., Mt. Baldy & Icehouse Canyon areas, Mt. Islip, etc.  

  • Do not travel alone. 
  • Bring extra food, clothing, and supplies 
  • Be prepared for changing weather conditions 
  • Be prepared in case you need to stay overnight 
  • Winter mountaineering training  
  • Maps and compass 
  • Alpine boots 
  • Helmet 
  • Ice axe 
  • Crampons (10 or more points) 

To see a map of the Angeles National Forest, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/ivm/ 

Winter Safety

The short days of winter lead some hikers to miscalculate how much time they need to complete a hike.

Always carry extra layers of clothing during the cooler months.

Be aware of the weather, especially low temperatures, and impending storms.


Winter temperatures can drop lower than anticipated. Hypothermia can be a hazard, even at temperatures above freezing. Caused by a rapid loss of body heat, hypothermia is the most dangerous illness of backcountry travel. Often victims don't recognize the symptoms, simply because they can't believe hypothermia could strike under comparatively mild travel conditions. Drastic lowering of the inner body temperature causes rapid and progressive mental and physical collapse. Symptoms include fits of shivering, vague, slurred speech, memory lapse, fumbling hands, limping, drowsiness, exhaustion, and apparent unconcern about physical discomfort.

If you recognize that someone may have hypothermia, keep them out of the wind and wet. Restore body temperature. Skin-to-skin contact is quickest. Place them in a dry sleeping bag and have one or two other people surround them. If they are conscious, give them a warm drink, even hot water (not coffee or other stimulants). When fit for travel, carry the affected person out in windproof and waterproof covering.

Hypothermia: What it is and how to treat it

Quick Links


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    Information and News on Fire activity. Fire Information is also available at the Forest Supervisor’s Office (626) 574-1613.