Trail Run from Calistoga to the Top of Bald Hill

Palisades from Bald Hill

We’d just arrived in Calistoga for Amanda & Brett’s wedding, and I was looking through the “where’s the ice machine” info provided by the B & B. A couple pages down, past the wineries and restaurants was a list of local hiking trails. What better way to work off the torpor of I-5 than to do a trail run?

The trailhead for the Oat Hill Mine Trail was just a half-mile away and in a few minutes I was jogging north on Hwy 29 toward Silverado Trail road. I had about two hours before I needed to be back. The sun would be setting in a couple of hours anyway, so I could run up the trail about 75 minutes before turning around.

Other than the brief description in the B & B info, I had not researched the trail. It looked like it worked up the east side of a ridge through oak, pine and fir toward some volcanic outcrops. On a hot day the trail would be brutal. This afternoon the temperature was around eighty, and in the long shadows of the ridge, it was relatively cool and shady.

Since it follows an old mine cart road, the grade of the trail is generally not too steep and is very runnable. It’s rough and rocky in places, but most trails I run are rough and rocky in places. Heads up – the trail appears to be multi-use. Judging from the bear scat there are some bears (and other animal life) in the area as well.

Low on the trail there were oak and pine framed views of the vineyards north of Silverado Trail, and higher up nice views of Napa Valley.

I could have pushed it a little further up the trail, but the natural spot to turn around was the top of Bald Hill. A short use trail leads to the top from the saddle northeast of the hill. Oddly shaped fingers and pinnacles of weathered volcanic rock (andesite) form its summit.

The volcanic bluffs known as the Palisades encompass much of the view to the North. To the northwest is Mt. St. Helena, abutting the west end of the Table Rock-Palisades escarpment. To the west is Napa Valley, and in the distance, the coast near Bodega Bay.

The Oat Hill Mine Trail page of the Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District web site has more info about the trail, including a PDF brochure, trail map and a self-guided tour of the geology along the trail. The round-trip length of the run from near Brannan & Lincoln in Calistoga was a little under eight miles, with an elevation gain loss of about 1500′. From the trailhead it’s about a mile less.

With a car shuttle, the approximately 11 mile route linking the Table Rock, Palisades, and Oat Hill Mine trails looks like it would be an outstanding trail run. The Table Rock trailhead is about 8 miles north of Calistoga on Hwy 29. Next time!

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Mountain Top Living

Curl leaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius var. intermontanus) on Mt. Harwood

Even in Southern California living on a mountain top at 9500′ is a tough thing to do. All that reside here must endure scouring winds, desiccating aridity, extremes of temperature, and high levels of UV and radiation.

Its limbs bleached and bare, the mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius var. intermontanus) in the foreground may have been the progenitor of the second shrub, affording it some protection from the elements as it germinated and grew.

From the traverse of Mt. Harwood on the Back to Baldy trail run.

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Back to Baldy

Chair lift on Thunder Mountain

Today was the first chance I’d had to get back to Mt. Baldy since the Run to the Top was called 45 minutes into the race on Labor Day. Thunderstorms were the problem that day, but not today. The waning moon was the only blotch of white in the cloudless sky, and it wasn’t going to cause any weather problems.

Part one of the plan for today’s run/hike was to do a “run to the top” of Baldy using the ski hut trail. That would help make up for the incomplete race on Labor Day. Part two was to do some peakbagging and climb West Baldy, Mt. Harwood, Thunder Mountain and Telegraph Peak. Relatively close together, these peaks can be done as part of an 18 mile adventure, with an elevation gain and loss of about 6000′.

Climbing Baldy via the ski hut trail is about three miles shorter than the Run to the Top route via the Notch, but takes me about the same amount of time. Ultimately it’s the rate of climb that can be sustained that determines your speed up the peak, and the elevation gain by either route is about 3900′. The ski hut trail can be busy, but I enjoy climbing the peak by this route. The tradeoff is that it is steeper and is less runnable.

Without some weather to stir things up, the views from the summit of Mt. Baldy were a little hazy, but San Gorgonio and San Jacinto could still be seen off to the east, Saddleback to the south, and Mt. Baden-Powell and other peaks of the San Gabriels to the northwest. I could also see Telegraph Peak sitting behind Thunder Mountain, and wondered how the trail between them was going to be.

After doing the half-mile jog over to West Baldy, I returned to the summit of Baldy and descended to the Baldy-Harwood saddle. Mt. Harwood is another one of those peaks I’ve run past many times. Harwood sees far fewer ascents than Baldy, but enough so that a path has developed from the Baldy-Harwood saddle up its broad west ridge. Today, save a a red-tailed hawk cruising by, its summit was empty.

Continuing along Harwood’s elongated summit, I began to work down the peak’s east ridge, staying on its crest. The east ridge is steeper and much less traveled than the west ridge. It is an extension of the Devil’s Backbone and its north side is a steep, crumbly precipice that drops more than 3000′ to Stockton Flat. The views along the ridge are excellent, but some care is required.

The east ridge of Mt. Harwood rejoined the trail at the Devil’s Backbone. From there it took about 15-20 minutes to run down to (just above) the Notch and start up the service road that leads past the new snow making reservoir to the top of Thunder Mountain. I’d been to the top of Thunder several times and by several means — by ski lift, by mountain bike, and by foot during the Baldy Peaks 50K. In that race Thunder had been the final challenge after climbing Mt. Baldy twice — once from the village and once from Manker Flat.

Maybe because of pushing the pace on the ski hut trail, I was pretty worked going up the road to Thunder, and wondered if I was going to be able to make it to Telegraph Peak before my loosely set turnaround time of noon. I’d hoped to get back down to the car and on the road by around 1:30 pm, and felt like I was running a little behind.

But Telegraph is a compelling peak, particularly when viewed from the northwest, and from Thunder Mountain it only took about 30 minutes on the Three Tee’s Trail to get to its summit. In another 30 minutes I was back at Thunder Mountain, and looking forward to the five miles of downhill that would take me back to the car.

Related post: Mt. Baldy Run (Part Way) to the Top 2011

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After the Station Fire: Opportunistic Bumblebee

Bumblebee feeding on Turricula (Poodle-dog bush)

This bumblebee is doing its best to hold on and squeeze far enough into a Turricula blossom to slurp some nectar.

Other than rabbitbrush, there are not many food choices for bees in the Southern California mountains in the Fall, so they have to take advantage of what can be found.

Not much Turricula (Poodle-dog bush)* is blooming either, but it has been such a prolific fire-follower that here and there a plant is in flower.

*The taxonomic name for Turricula parryi (Poodle-dog bush) has changed to Eriodictyon parryi. The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California, Second Edition (2012) has returned Turricula to the genus Eriodictyon, as originally described by Gray. According to the Wikipedia entry for Turricula (April 11, 2012), “… molecular phylogenetic analysis carried out by Ferguson (1998) confirms that Turricula should be treated as a separate genus within a clade (Ferguson does not use the term “subfamily”) that includes Eriodictyon, and also the genera Nama and Wigandia; Eriodictyon is the genus to which Turricula is closest in molecular terms, and is its sister taxon.” I use “Turricula” and “Poodle-dog bush” interchangeably as a common name.

From Sunday’s Ten Miles – Four Peaks run in the San Gabriel Mountains.

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After the Station Fire: Ten Miles – Four Peaks

Mt. Lowe from Mt. Disappointment

A run or hike doesn’t have to be long or difficult to be enjoyable! It had been a while since I’d done San Gabriel Peak, Mt. Markham, and Mt. Lowe; and although I’d run within a quarter-mile of the summit of Mt. Disappointment several times, I’d never done the last bit up to the peak. All four of these peaks can be done in a (round trip) run/hike of less than ten miles, with a cumulative elevation gain/loss of around 3000′.

Depending on where you prefer to park, the run/hike can start at the San Gabriel Peak Trail trailhead, which is about one-third of a mile up the Mt. Wilson Road, or at Red Box on Angeles Crest Highway. Parking at Red Box requires running/hiking on Mt. Wilson Road to the trailhead.

The San Gabriel Peak/Mt. Disappointment trail climbs up through a forest of chaparral, canyon live oak, and Bigcone Douglas-fir about 1 1/2 miles to the Mt. Disappointment road, just below the antennae-infested summit of the peak. Along the way there are great views of the canyon of the West Fork San Gabriel River and San Gabriel Peak. The paved road is followed south (left) to a sharp switchback and then a short distance up to the top of Mt. Disappointment (~ Mile 2.1).

In Trails of the Angeles, John Robinson describes how government surveyors lugged their equipment to the top of Mt. Disappointment in 1875, only to discover that another peak to the southeast was higher. That peak was San Gabriel Peak. Except for Strawberry Peak (6164′), San Gabriel Peak (6161′) is the highest of the front range peaks. It is the most prominent peak on the eastern skyline when viewed from the San Fernando Valley, and is sometimes mistaken for Mt. Wilson.

I imagine it was a bit easier for me to get over to San Gabriel Peak than for the surveyors when they did the peak’s first ascent. All I had to do was run a third of a mile down a paved road and pick up the San Gabriel Peak Trail on the southeast corner of the switchback. The trail up to San Gabriel Peak forks to the left off the trail to Markham Saddle about a tenth of a mile from the switchback.

The divide extending from Mt. Disappointment to Mt. Wilson was the approximate boundary of the Station Fire in this area. Although the summit of San Gabriel Peak burned, much of the northeast side of San Gabriel Peak and Mt. Disappointment did not. From what I can determine, the northeast side of these peaks last burned in the 1898 “Mt. Lowe” fire. There’s a nice section of trail just below the summit of San Gabriel Peak that passes through a corner of Bigcone Douglas-fir forest that was not consumed by the Station Fire.

After enjoying the panoramic view from the top of San Gabriel Peak (~ Mile 2.9), I retraced my steps back down to the “main” trail and continued to descend to Markham Saddle and the Mt. Lowe fire road. At this point another trail begins on the Mt. Markham side of the road. This trail leads southwest to a saddle between Mt. Markham and Mt. Lowe. Mt. Lowe Road is closed between Markham Saddle and Eaton Saddle because an active rock slide destroyed the road just west of Mueller Tunnel.

From the Markham-Lowe saddle a path follows the southwest ridge of Mt. Markham about a half-mile to its summit. The route up the ridge is relatively straightforward, but a steeper section requires a little scrambling over fractured, loose rock. The high point on Mt. Markham’s elongated summit ridge appeared to be a pile of rocks covered with Turricula. A little further out on the ridge was a clearing with a rusty can that may have been a summit register (~ Mile 5.1).

Returning to the Markham-Lowe saddle, less than a half-mile of moderate uphill led to the summit of Mt. Lowe (~ Mile 6.0). There’s a bench here, along with locating tubes pointed at various landmarks. As explained by the interpretive sign on the peak, Professor Thaddeus Lowe had planned to build a large hotel on the summit, serviced by the Mt. Lowe Railway. In his grand vision, a suspended cable car would have continued to San Gabriel Peak, where an observatory was to be built. Here’s a map of Mt. Lowe area trails and landmarks created by The Scenic Mt. Lowe Railway Historical Committee.

It was on the way back, near Mt. Disappointment, that I heard and saw the F-18s described in So Many Heroes. It turns out the fighters had done a flyover as part of a 9/11 Memorial dedication in Pasadena.

Turricula (Poodle-dog bush) Update

Turricula was present virtually everywhere along the route that had been burned, and could not entirely be avoided. It was especially prevalent on the path to summit of Mt. Markham from the Markham-Lowe Saddle.

I’ve been exposed to Turricula now on a number of runs, and except for the first time, when I literally waded through unbroken stands of the sticky young plants, it hasn’t been a problem — even wearing running shorts and short-sleeves. I’ve had a little irritation on my ankles, or sometimes along my waistband, or a random spot here or there, but it’s been no big deal. Certainly nothing like the widespread inflammation, swelling and blisters the first time!

Of course now I at least make an attempt to avoid the plants. And I also wash off my arms and legs at the earliest opportunity after being exposed to Turricula.

It also seems the older plants don’t have as much of the “exudate” on them, since my legs and arms haven’t become sticky from brushing up against the plants. Anecdotal evidence suggests that in the older plants irritation results from the almost microscopic hairs on the plant. It is thought these irritating hairs are more easily broken and shed as the plant ages.

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So Many Heroes

West Fork San Gabriel River to Mt. Baldy

I stopped running and listened, it was eerily quiet. No airplanes overhead. No traffic on the road below. The silence triggered thoughts of this day, a decade ago.

Suddenly the silence was broken by the unmistakable sound of a jet fighter. Big engines, to the northeast of Mt. Disappointment. Not high, but high enough I couldn’t find the source in the haze and glare. Slowly the roar faded, and I started to run again.

Earlier this morning I’d heard a recording of that sound in a news report leading up to the 9/11 ceremony at the World Trade Center. The reporter had commented that in the scramble to intercept Flight 93, the fighters were virtually unarmed. Apparently the fighter pilots had been prepared to ram the plane. But as we know, other heroes were already taking action.

Faintly at first, I heard a growing, growling, thunderous sound* heading toward the mountain and started searching the sky. This time I saw them. Two  F-18s maybe three thousand feet overhead, in a long, arcing turn. Increased security? Part of a 9/11 memorial flyover? Something else? At the time I had no idea, but it put into focus the events of that day, and other days.

So many heroes, so many sacrifices…


*Video courtesy of a hiker near the Markam-Lowe Saddle.

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Mt. Baldy Run (Part Way) to the Top 2011

Mt. Baldy Run to the Top Registration Area and Start

Somewhere around the junction of the 210 and 605 I saw a flash of lightning to the south. As if the flash had been a warning, a gust of wind buffeted my car, and a blizzard of dust and debris blew across the freeway. Then it started to rain. Not good — especially when you’re on your way to a race that ends on top of a 10,000′ mountain.

A complicated weather scenario had developed for race day. A very moist layer of monsoonal moisture had been pushed up into Southern California from Baja by a combination of a weak upper level trough off the coast and big upper level high over Four Corners. A combination of factors including an unseasonably strong jet stream had helped trigger a band of showers and thunderstorms that extended from west-southwest off the coast, across the Los Angeles basin, and into the San Gabriel Mountains.

When I drove into the Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts parking lot at around 6:45 am it was raining hard enough I didn’t want to get out of the car. Procrastinating, I went through the admittedly optimistic ritual of applying sun screen. After a few minutes the rain tapered off to sprinkles and I walked down to the Start Line to pick up my bib. The word was conditions were improving and it looked like we were going to be able to get in the race.

Each year the Baldy Run to the Top attracts 500 to 600 runners. Some are the best of the best and will run the seven miles and nearly 4000′ of elevation gain in under 75 minutes. About two-thirds of the runners usually finish in around 2:15 or less.. A few just want to give it a go and soon find that climbing the rough equivalent of 6500 stairs — at altitude — is more than they bargained for.

Usually the weather is pretty good — some years are a little warmer or cooler, or have a few more clouds than others, but blue skies and sunshine are the norm, and significant rain — or lightning — usually isn’t a problem.

It was deceivingly warm as runners gathered at the start line. The wind chill on top was reported to be a chilly 38 degrees. A few runners had on extra clothing, and a number of runners had an extra top or shell tied around their waste. Some had extra gear stuffed in their packs, but a few — including a couple of shirtless runners — had nothing to combat the weather.

Here’s a UCAR regional NEXRAD composite radar image from about 8:00 am. The approximate location of Mt. Baldy is marked by a black triangle near the center of the image. (Note that radars in the region vary in how they show a particular area and that a cell may be stronger than indicated in the composite. Also there’s some “clutter” in the image that isn’t necessarily rain.)

With what sounded like a more reserved “3… 2… 1… GO!” the race started and pounded down the wet pavement to Manker Flats (6160′), where it turned up the ski area service road. The (mostly) dirt road would take us to the Notch (7800′) and then the top of Chair 4 (8600′). From there a trail would take us across the exposed Devil’s Backbone, then across the south face of Mt. Harwood, and on to the final gut-wrenching 700′ climb to the summit of Mt. Baldy (10,064′). Here’s an interactive Google Earth browser view of the race course.

The weather on the way up to the Notch was a little unsettled, but great for running. There was a mix of clouds and sun, and even a brief shower, but overall it looked like the weather might be improving.

Just before rounding the last switchback up to the Notch, a runner with a bib was running down. This was odd because he was running well. Why would he have quit the race? Running up to the aid station at the Notch I still hadn’t caught on, and was wondering why so many people were standing around at the aid station.

That’s when I learned that about 45 minutes into the race, on the recommendation of SAR officials, the race had been shut down. I’m not sure what the “final straw” was but would guess it was nearby thunderstorms and perhaps a growing concern that rain and wind associated with a rapidly developing cell could cause serious problems for runners not prepared for inclement weather.

Here’s what a regional composite radar image looked like at around 9:00 am, and then just one hour later, as a “train” of cells about 20 miles from Mt. Baldy continued to develop and stream into the San Bernardino Mountains in the area of Silverwood Lake, Crestline and Lake Arrowhead.

Lightning was not only a risk for runners, but for the 50+ SAR and fire personnel spread across the mountain, and the 25+ volunteers that would be on top of the mountain for the duration of the event.

There was lightning in the area. We saw it driving to the race and I heard at least one clap of thunder while warming up before the race. Here’s an image of Astrogenic StrikeStar lightning detections in the southwestern U.S. from 10:00 pm PDT Sunday to about 1:30 pm PDT race day. Note the high percentage of cloud-ground strokes.

As this composite radar loop from WSI shows, bands of showers and thunderstorms streamed into the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains most of Labor Day. Cells were moving relatively rapidly and developing over a wide swath that extended from west of Mt. Baldy south and east to San Diego and Palm Springs. (Mt. Baldy is just north of ONT on the radar map.)

It was pretty much a crapshoot where a particular cell would develop, how strong it would be, and what its extent would be. This regional radar image shows a cell that moved into the Baldy area around 1:00 pm, and this Google Earth/NEXRAD image shows the same cell in relation to  Mt. Baldy at around 1:30 pm.

As frustrated as I was to stop at the Notch, I don’t think there’s any question that officials made the right decision when they shut down the race. And I think most runners understand that it’s not whether a particular runner was able to make it up to the summit and back down OK, but what could have happened with several hundred people on the mountain and an ever-so-slight change in that wavering stream of heavy showers and thunderstorms.

Some related posts: Thunderstorm, Mt. Baldy Run to the Top 2009, Mt. Baldy Run to the Top 2007

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Mountain Lion Saga


Mountain lion tracks

Originally posted November 25, 2006. Updated  April 29, 2013.

Update April 29, 2013. On Sunday, May 19th, the Santa Monica Mountains Fund will hold its second annual fundraiser to support the Mountain Lion Research Project. The event will feature a live mountain lion, a lion tracking trail, interactive displays, food & wine, and more. For more info, to purchase a ticket, or make a donation see the Mountain Lion page of the Santa Monica Mountains Fund web site.


Nature isn’t necessarily nice. Behavior and interactions among animals are often violent. So it is with mountain lions. But the mountain lions of the Santa Monica Mountains also have to cope with the additional problems of living on an island of lion habitat in the middle of an ocean of urban sprawl.

Mountain lion P1
The mountain lion tracks above were photographed on a run at Sage Ranch Park in late January 2000 . They might have been made by a young male mountain lion designated P3, whose territory encompassed this area. There is also a possibility there were from an older female lion, P4 that frequented the Rocky Peak area. Unfortunately both these animals were killed in late 2004 by eating prey (coyote) that had eaten rodents that had consumed anticoagulant based poisons. These poisons are used by parks, schools, golf courses and housing developments for rodent control.

The P3 and P4 pumas were tracked as part of a ongoing study started by the National Park Service in 2002 to learn more about mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. As of May 2012, twenty-six mountain lions, P1 to P26, have been tracked, and their history has been quite a saga.

The patriarch of the lions in the study is P1. He was the first lion captured and collared in 2002, and at that time was estimated to be 5-6 years old. In his prime, P1 was a large, 140+ lb. male whose territory was essentially all of the Santa Monica Mountains. In August of 2004, P1 and P2 – the only female lion known to be in P1’s range – produced a litter of four cubs — two males (P5 and P8) and two females (P6 and P7).

Despite high hopes for the lions and their new litter, things turned ugly in August of 2005, when P1 killed his mate P2. A few months later, in June of 2006, P1 also killed one of the 22 month-old females from the litter, P7. According to biologists these were not the actions of a lion run amuck, but were most likely related to conflicts over kills, or in the case of P2, a mother protecting her offspring.

Mountain lion P13
As might be expected, the young males from the litter, P5 and P8, headed for opposite ends of P1’s territory. However, urbanization and limited linkages essentially prevented their escape to other wildland areas.

In early September 2006 P5 was likely killed by P1, and in a development that surprised researchers, P8 appeared to have been killed by an unknown lion, probably male, inside of P1’s territory. The “unknown lion” was the male P9, who was killed by a vehicle on Las Virgenes road in July 2007.

One other female lion was collared and designated P13. DNA testing indicated that P13 was a daughter of P6. At that time P6 was the the only surviving lion from P1 and P2’s 2004 litter.

P1 appears to have been injured in a battle for dominance in March 2009. A bloody radio collar and tufts of hair were found in a tree in Hidden Valley, near Thousand Oaks. P1’s opponent was suspected to be P12, a lion collared in December 2008, and the first lion to be tracked crossing the 101 Freeway. Scat found three weeks after the fight was genotyped, and found to be P1’s.

In May 2010 P13 had a litter of three kittens — P17 (female), P18 (male), and P19 (female). The father was P12. Since P12 originated from an area other than the Santa Monica Mountains, this increased the genetic diversity of the mountain lion population in the study. has some fascinating wildlife camera footage of P12 and an uncollared female lion. P18 was killed August 30, 2011 attempting to cross the 405 freeway.

It is unclear how many male lions now inhabit P1’s original territory. P12’s collar is no longer functioning. P18 was killed August 30, 2011 attempting to cross the 405 freeway. P15 was found deceased on September 11, 2011. Reportedly another male lion has been photographed in the area.

In May 2010 a male lion living in the Santa Susana Mountains west of I-5 was collared and given the designation P16. This is the first lion to be followed in the Santa Susana Mountains since P3 and P4 died in 2004, after eating contaminated prey. P21, an adult male, is also being tracked in the Santa Susana Mountains. Both P16 and P21 have made excursions into Angeles National Forest, and P16 remains there.

Mountain lion home ranges

The map above shows the home ranges of the mountain lions P10, P12, P13, P14 and P15 in the Santa Monica Mountains, and some monitored locations of P16 in the Santa Susana Mountains. Here is another map that shows the home ranges of the mountain lions P1 to P12 in the Santa Monica Mountains, Simi Hills and Santa Susana Mountains. It was adapted for the web from this NPS map (PDF), produced in 2009.

The following lions have (at one time) been collared, and are presumed to be alive:

P-12 – male, collar failed (collared December 2008)*
P-13 – female, collar failed (collared July 2009)*
P-16 – male, collar (collared May 2010)
P-19 – female, collar (collared May 2010)*
P-21 – male, collar (collared June 2011)
P-22 – male, collar (collared May 2012)*
P-23 – female, tracking device (July 2012)*
P-24 – male, tracking device (July 2012)*
P-26 – male, collar (collared August 2012)*

*Home range is the Santa Monica Mountains. Others are in the Santa Susana Mountains or Angeles National Forest.

The mountain lion saga continues…

Following are some previous updates to this post, with links to additonal articles and information.

Update October 24, 2012. The remains of P-25, an approximately one year old female mountain lion were discovered by hikers in Point Mugu State Park on Sunday. P-25 and P-26 (male) are the offspring of P-12 (male) and P-13. The death did not appear to be the result of a conflict with another lion. A necropsy is pending.

Update October 18, 2012
. This summer NPS biologists discovered two mountain lion kittens, P-23 (female) & P-24 (male), east of Circle X Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains. They are the offspring of P-12 (male) and P-19, a daughter of P-12. The kittens were outfitted with tracking devices.

Update June 18, 2012. Analysis of the DNA of the mountain lion killed by authorities in downtown Santa Monica May 22 revealed it is related to lions that reside north of the 101 Freeway. One possibility is that the approximately three year old lion was the offspring of mountain lion P-12. P-12 has been documented crossing the 101 Freeway in Agoura and is the only lion known to have done so.

Update May 26, 2012. Earlier this Spring biologists from Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) captured an adult male mountain lion in the Griffith Park area. Designated P-22, the approximately three year old lion is the first to have been photographed east of Cahuenga Pass and within the Santa Monica Mountains eco-region. The lion was fitted with a GPS collar and released where it was captured. According to Kate Kuykendall, Public Affairs Officer for the SMMNRA, preliminary genetic analysis by UCLA indicates that P22 is likely from the Santa Monica Mountains, which would mean he crossed both the 405 and the 101 Freeways.


Update November 21, 2011. On October 4, 2011 the National Park Service announced that male mountain lion P-15 has been killed. It was  the first documented intentional human-caused death of a mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains. P-15’s collar stopped transmitting on August 25, 2011. P-15 was was discovered on September 11, 2011, following a report of a dead mountain lion. The California Department of Fish and Game and National Park Service are seeking information related to the death of P-15 and the parties responsible. With the addition of $5000 from the City of Malibu the reward being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the poachers currently stands at $16,700. The DFG Cal Tip Hotline is 1-888-334-2258.

Update August 7, 2009. According to Where the Mountain Lions Live in the Santa Monica Mountains in, P1 may have survived the fight with another mountain lion back in March. DNA from scat collected about two weeks after the fight matched P1!

Update March 28, 2009. There was sad news earlier this month. According to an article in the Daily News, mountain lion P1, the long standing patriarch of the Santa Monica Mountains, appears to have lost a battle for dominance with another mountain lion. A bloody radio collar and tufts of hair were found in a tree in Hidden Valley, near Thousand Oaks. P1’s opponent is suspected to have been P12, a lion collared in December, and the first lion to be tracked crossing the 101 Freeway.

Update October 6, 2008. The Ventura County Star reported that a young male lion was found dead October 2 on the 118 freeway, just west of Rocky Peak Road. A wildlife passageway crosses under the freeway nearby and has been used by at least one other lion. On July 18 a mountain lion was reported in the area of the Chumash Trail.

Update May 1, 2008. NPS wildlife biologists are currently aware of 4 lions in the Santa Monica Mountains — 2 recently radio-collared young males designated P10 and P11, and P1 and P6. There is probably at least one more female, the mother of P10 and P11. A remote camera picture has also been taken of a lion in the Simi Hills.

Update January 25, 2008. An article in the Simi Valley Acorn reported that on January 13, 2008, a mountain lion was discovered in an abandoned building near Chatsworth Reservoir. Two days later there was another mountain lion sighting in the nearby Simi Hills by employees at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory.

Update August 7, 2007. According to an article in the Malibu Times, on July 31 a five or six year old mountain lion, was hit by a car near the tunnel on Malibu Canyon Road and died shortly thereafter. The mountain lion, designated P9, was recently collared, and along with P1 and P6 was one of three mountain lions being tracked by the NPS. There is speculation that P9 may have been the unknown lion that killed P8.

Google search: $g(mountain lion), $g(Santa Monica Mountains), $g(animal tracks)

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