Posted by: GeekHiker | June 15, 2009

Lions In Our Midst

It’s not uncommon that I’m asked if I ever worry about mountain lions, bears and the like while I’m out hiking.  It usually the first question asked after I admit that I very often hike solo.

In all honesty, I generally don’t.  Yes, I keep my wits about me when I’m walking through the mountains, and maybe try to make a little extra noise before going around blind corners.  Even just walking along, though, I’m usually loud enough or on a popular enough trail that whatever large creatures are about are usually long gone.

I’ve never actually seen a mountain lion (though, in all likelyhood, they’ve probably seen me).  Only one bear, some rattlesnakes (which seem more prevalent than before of late) and a couple of coyotes (such as the one at Charmlee), all of whom kept their distance.

They’re out there, yes, but usually spread pretty far between.  To wit, this article from the laist website, which shows the ranges of tagged mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains.  I’ve including a link to the map below, and you’ll note that a single mountain lion, on average, roams over at least half of the area.

Mountain Lion Map from

And there are others that roam throughout the entire range.

This isn’t to say that I’ll never run into a mountain lion at some point, but it’s pretty clear why there are a heckuv’a lot more squirrels than large predators out there in the wilds…



  1. the idea that there are mountain lions roaming outside of LA never occured to me. it amazes me that even with all the crap we’ve done to this planet there can still be so much beauty, and so close at hand. once in a while i see a deer upstate and it takes my breath away and makes me smile like a kid. i can only imagine how extraordinary it would be to see a live mountain lion.
    and then i’d pee my pants from fright. but it would be worth it.

  2. Being from NH, people often ask me if I’ve seen moose while hiking. It kind of makes me wish I had, just so I can finally say yes. Then again, a moose probably wouldn’t eat me if I saw one in the woods.

  3. What about Big Foot have you ever seen Big Foot? UFO? Why do people ask boring questions about mountain lions and bears when Big Foot sightings are so much more interesting.

  4. Haha leave it to Dingo to bring up Bigfoot.

    I haven’t seen a lion on any of my trips either, which is a relief because I’m solo a lot too and probably wouldn’t be able to defend myself as well as you could. I think I read somewhere that they’re more likely to go after cyclists because they see you as sort of a 4-legged animal that way. Hikers are nice and tall and upright. Here’s wishing neither of us ever see any and have years and years of safe hikes ahead of us!

  5. Wild life encounters while hiking: I have seen deers, chipmunks, a marmot, snakes, and if you count squirrels as “wild life” yes, those too. I don’t ever want to bump into a mountain lion or a bear or whatever big carnivorous beasts out there — they are only good to look from a safe distance!

  6. If you wore a t-shirt that said “I hike alone” on the front and “mountain lions are scared of me” on the back out to a bar in Vancouver, the girls would be aaaaalllll over you.

  7. It never occured to me that there would be mountain lions out there! Lions and tigers and bears – oh my! I hope you never run into any carniovres out there!

  8. I once came across two bobcats hiking around Mt. Diablo. They were making quite a racktet. I’m not sure if they were fighting or mating (or both). When I rounded the bend, I saw one take off into the bushes and the other turned around and GLARED at the hikers. (I was hiking alone, but about 7 or 8 other hikers were attracted by the noise and were there to investigate as I was). I never felt like I was in any danger, but I did feel like I had missed the “sock over the top of the door” and owed that bobcat a six-pack.

  9. BlakSpring – Heh, not just outside. They tend to wander into neighborhoods on the fringes and eat cats.

    NancyPearlWannabe – I dunno, I’ve heard they can be pretty dangerous during mating season…

    Dingo – Bigfoot and I are drinking buddies. He doesn’t like me to talk about it, though.

    Mel Heth – I think that rumor only got started because of the incident in Orange County a few years ago. By and large, they’re pretty shy; who knows what happened in that weirdness.

    K – Bumping into isn’t so bad, just try not to be between momma and offspring

    Mrs Chuck Bartowski – I’ll keep that in mind

    Ruby – But if I do, I hope I can get the camera out on time!

    Hebba – That must have been cool!

  10. Wow, that map is pretty cool. I like to hike alone in the Santa Monicas too, but I do worry about moutain lions. I don’t know that I really believe I’ll encounter one, but I definitely don’t want to end up on KCAL 9 news as the silly girl who went hiking alone and ended up a mountain lion snack. Hmm, I think this makes me both foolhardy AND vain.

  11. Magenta – Welcome to the blog! You know, I never thought of the “how will I look on the evening news” angle. Uh, oh, something else to worry about now… 😉

  12. When I hiked out there I always wondered, especially after the biker in Simi Valley who was attacked and killed by a mountain lion a few years back.

    Of course, there have been mountain lion sightings near Omaha so … I’m still wondering.

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