Dan's Hiking Pages: Hikes in the San Gabriels and Beyond
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Animals of the San Gabriel Mountains

One of the joys for me in hiking is to encounter wildlife. When I leave the environs of streets and buildings and head into the great outdoors, I enter the home of creatures from the tiny honey bee to the massive black bear. There are many animals that call the San Gabriel Mountains and Angeles National Forest their home.

Below are some of the animals I have photographed in their natural habitat while hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains. I have made no attempt to provide a scientific treatment on wildlife, but at the bottom of the page are some links that you can follow to further your study.

Deer on Colby Trail

Deer on Colby Trail - May 20, 2012 / Read blog post

Deer in foothills above Glendora

Deer in foothills above Glendora - Dec. 4, 2011 / Read blog post

Bear on Windy Gap Trail, Crystal Lake

Black Bear on Windy Gap Trail - July 23, 2011 / Read blog post

Fox on Islip Ridge Trail, Crystal Lake

Fox on Islip Ridge Trail - July 15, 2012 / Read blog post

Bighorn sheep on Islip Ridge Trail, Crystal Lake

Nelson bighorn sheep on Islip Ridge Trail - July 15, 2012 /
Read blog post

Bighorn sheep on Three T's Trail

Nelson bighorn sheep on Three T's Trail - Sept. 10, 2011 /
Read blog post

Rattlesnake on Ontario Peak Trail

Rattlesnake on Ontario Peak Trail - Aug. 22, 2010 / Read blog post

Golpher snake in Glendora foothills

Golpher snake in the Glendora foothills - April 6, 2014

Horned Lizard on Sunset Peak Trail

Horned lizard on Sunset Peak Trail - April 18, 2008

Lizard on Trail Canyon Trail

Lizard on Trail Canyon Trail - June 9, 2012 / Read blog post

Chipmunk on Mt. Baldy

Chipmunk on Mount Baldy - Sept. 17, 2011 / Read blog post

Tiger at Los Angeles Zoo, Griffith Park

Mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains - May 19, 2013 /
Read blog post
Ok, it's not a mountain lion, it's a tiger. But I did see it in the Santa Monica Mountains...well kind of. It was at the Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park.

Butterfly on common yarrow, Fish Canyon

Butterfly on common yarrow on Fish Canyon Trail - May 10, 2013 / Read blog post

Bees on matilija poppy, Fish Canyon

Bees on matilija poppy on Fish Canyon Trail - May 28, 2011 / Read blog post

Bee on Fish Canyon Trail

Bee on Fish Canyon Trail - March 22, 2014 / Read blog post

  Other Animals

Mountain lion track, Upper Colbey Trail Mountain lion - These large cats live in our local mountains but I have never seen one in the wild. I have talked with other hikers who have seen them, and I have seen their tracks. Here's a picture of a cougar track on Upper Colby Trail above Glendora.

Bobcat - Iíve seen two or three over the years, but was not been able to capture them with the camera.

Coyote in Griffith Park Coyote - Iíve seen a lot of these over the years, but for some reason I donít have a decent photograph of one. They tend to be wily and usually donít pose for the camera like deer do. Often my sightings are around dusk or dawn, so the low light makes it difficult to get good pictures. Hereís a shot of one taken from my car in the parking lot of Old Zoo Park in Griffith Park after I had finished a walk (photo not quite suitable for National Geographic).

Rabbit - I see these cute creatures in the wild. I just need to find or take a good photo.

Squirrel - I see a lot of these while hiking. I need to keep searching my photos for a good picture, or take one. They are tricky to photograph because theyíre typically in heavily shaded areas and they scamper about quickly.

Snakes - Aside from rattlesnakes and gopher snakes, there are several other species of snakes in our mountains: California kingsnake, striped racer, two-striped garter snake. Iíve encountered a garter snake and a racer, but never seem to be able to photograph them; just too fast. Still waiting to see a kingsnake in the wild.

Frog - Iíve seen some and probably have some pictures to find.

Newt in Fish Canyon Newt (salamander) - I see these occasionally in riparian areas like Fish Canyon and Big Santa Anita Canyon. Here is a picture taken by Michael Charters while we were hiking together in Fish Canyon on May 10, 2013. My pictures were not in focus. The toxin on their skin is highly poisonous.

Humming Bird on Van Tassel Trail Birds - I appreciate birds, enjoy their sounds, and am fascinated by their flight. Iíve just not made a diligent effort to photograph them. Birds require a lot more patience to photograph than plants. I captured this humming bird on the trail to Van Tassel Ridge in Azusa on Feb. 15, 2014. I have lots of pictures of seagulls, pelicans, ducks, and pigeonsÖbut those donít count for hiking in the San Gabriels.

Fish - There are a number of fish species that live in our rivers and streams. Iíve snapped a few pictures over the years, so I just need to search through my photos to see if there are any good ones to post.

Larva on California poppy Bugs - There are tons of insects and little creatures in nature: ants, mosquitoes, flies, gnats, bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, beetles, ladybugs, stinkbugs, ticks, crickets, tarantulas, worms. Some of them are quite pesky. Some can hurt you. All of them play a vital role in nature. Iíve taken a few pictures of them over years, mostly on flowers.

Signs at Various Locations:
Dangerous animals sign in Griffith Park Griffith Park
Mountain lion sign Verdugo Mountains
Verdugo Mountains
Bear habitat sign, Monrovia Canyon Park    Animal caution sign, Monrovia Canyon Park
Monrovia Canyon Park
Mountain lion warning sign, Cobly Trail
Colby Trail
Animal warning signs, Marshall Canyon Marshall Canyon

Nature Centers:

Nature centers can be great places to learn about wildlife. Here are some to visit in person and online:

  • Eaton Canyon Nature Center - This has been my number-one place to learn about plants, but they also have some animal exhibits. They are open 9 to 5 Tuesday through Sunday. They have a beautiful nature center, three self-guided nature trails, several habitat gardens, indoor exhibits, bookstore, and various educational events, including docent-lead walks.
    Particularly note these two web pages:
    - Bird Species of Eaton Canyon - They list more than 150 species of birds; many have links to photos and other information.
    - The Animals of Eaton Canyon - They list 36 animals (common and scientific names); many have links to photos and other information.
    See my hike description for Eaton Canyon.
  • Angeles National Forest Visitor Centers - Most of them have animal exhibits, live and/or stuffed, and provide other information about wildlife.
Other Links:

  • Mammals of the San Gabriel Mountains of California - A 1954 study by Terry A. Vaughan at University of Kansas Lawrence and revised, edited, and with afterword by Robert J. 'Roy' van de Hoek, 2011
  • Wildlife of Griffith Park - Presented by Friends of Griffith Park. Lots of information including species lists. Focuses on Santa Monica Mountains but also largely applicable to the nearby San Gabriel Mountains.
  • San Diego Natural History Museum - Features an online field guide with checklists and illustrated write-ups for many animals, many of which are found in the San Gabriels and surrounding areas. Click the "guide" link in the first sentence.

Plants icon  Plants in the San Gabriel Mountains

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This page was last updated February 10, 2020.