California hiker injured while defending dog from mountain lion attack

Portrait Of Mountain Lion By Plants
The Solstice Canyon trail was temporarily closed following the attack (Image credit: Kevin Zaouali / EyeEm)

A California hiker has been injured while defending his dog during a rare attack by a mountain lion. According to a Facebook post by the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the incident occurred in the Solstice Canyon area on Wednesday morning when the hiker was walking a small dog on leash.

"A young mountain lion attempted to attack the dog. While intervening, the person received a scratch and puncture wound on their hand," writes the National Parks Service in the post, adding that a second young mountain lion was also in the immediate area during the incident.

National Park Service rangers provided first aid to the hiker on scene. The dog was uninjured. 

The Solstice Canyon area, which is in the Santa Monica mountains and has several hiking trails through coastal sage scrub and wildlife viewing opportunities, was temporarily closed, however officials commented that no further action will be taken.

"The area closure was instituted to give the lions time to leave the area and minimize the chances of any further conflict."

Mountain Lion on Tree Stump

Mountain lion encounters are extremely unusual, however officials remind hikers that they are unpredictable, wild animals (Image credit: John Conrad)

Mountain lion safety

Mountain lion encounters are extremely unusual, however officials remind hikers that they are unpredictable, wild animals. If you do encounter a mountain lion, make yourself appear as large as possible, make noise, wave your arms or trekking poles and even throw objects at the animal. 

Never run away from a mountain lions as this triggers their instinct to chase. Instead, slowly back away and allow space for the mountain lion to move away. Learn more in our article on what to do if you meet a mountain lion on the trail.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.