Animal Tracks: Mountain Lion?


Large print, no claw marks…

Photo taken January 5th, 2013

Sunol Regional Wilderness


    • My husband sees bobcats all the time while riding his bike on Calaveras Road (the road to Sunol Regional) and up on Mount Diablo. But in all my life of hiking, I haven’t been so lucky. One day!

    • Haha.. I like to check out both the big view and the little things along the trail. This section of the trail had an unusual amount of animal tracks, so I looked a bit closer to see what animals were around. The trail is in Sunol Regional Wilderness. It isn’t a secret they’re around… they have a cougar on display in the visitor center. 🙂

  • Wow, that is a really cool spotting. Would encourage me to hike in groups that’s for sure 🙂 But that’s already a habit living near the Rocky Mountains, and grizzly country, as I do. Thanks for a great post! ~Gina

      • When my friend and I used to hike a lot in North Idaho, where game managers like to release the problem grizzly bears, I always brought along a Glock .45 caliber pistol. They’d still have the upper hand, but I’m NOT going down without a fight! 🙂 PS – Cougars rock! Especially the ones from Washington State University!!!

        • Grizzly bears terrify me! Right before we were married, we took a month drive up through Yellowstone and the Canadian Rockies. One day in Waterton Lakes, we went on a hike where reportedly a mama grizzly and her cubs had been seen the day before. That was one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever experienced, but also the most frightening. I couldn’t relax!

          • I can relate! The lure of the wild is strong. We wouldn’t repress it if we could. Some authors say that danger is a big part of what makes life so wonderful. We want to live on, but a little taste of danger makes our lives sweeter. How to get it and how much to get???

  • Definely appears to be a lion track. The nail marks would show if it was a dog and the toes would line up into two rows instead of an arc. Neat!

  • I used to hike quite often alone when we lived in Sedona. Occasionally my thoughts would go to mountain lions out there possibly observing me without my knowledge. They certainly are beautiful animals but would not like to encounter one on the trail.

    • There are several spots I won’t hike alone, as I know the big cats are around somewhere. When I’m out hiking by myself, I like to be in wide-open grasslands, or trails with more people around. They are gorgeous animals, but I’d be terrified to see one in person. My husband and I actually heard one attack a deer right outside our bedroom window one morning at 5:00am. Even protected in our home, our flight or fight response was immediately triggered.

      • I feel the same way about hiking in bear country. When we were in Yellowstone NP for a couple of years, the fear of grizzlies or black bear with cubs was a constant concern. You definitely have to respect these large predator animals.

  • Nice Track. Were there any more? I always have a hard time deciding if big tracks are mountain lion or large dog…. It does look like it could be Mountain Lion, though 🙂

    • I believe the distinction is that dogs always have their claws out, whereas cats have retractable claws. There are no claw marks in this print. Yes, there were other prints, but this was the best one. Two years ago, on one of the Outdoor Discoveries hikes, we saw a deer kill that was pretty darn fresh.. clearly mountain lion. They’re all over around here! I avoid hiking early in the morning or at dusk, and always keep my little one close by.

      • Domestic dogs do have claws out, although depending on the substrate there are a few “dog” type species that will only register a few claws, or none at all (coyote would likely show claws on toes 3 and 4 in that kind of mud, grey fox maybe not at all!) BUT, for that size and in mud, with the rounder toes a bit asymmetrically positioned and bi-lobing on the anterior portion of the pad, it’s very cat-like.

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