Steve Hoffman captures on video a mountain lion in the Arcata Community Forest. The lion first appears about 14 seconds in.


While biking on the South Fork Janes Creek Trail in the Arcata Community Forest last week, Arcata resident and mountain biker Steve Hoffman had a surprising encounter with a mountain lion.

“I came around the corner on my mountain bike and it was crouched in the middle of the trail,” Hoffman wrote on Nextdoor, where he posted the above video Tuesday night. “It turned and jumped in a bush a few feet away from me.”

Approximate location of Hoffman’s lion meeting

Hoffman told the Outpost that after he saw the animal jump into the bush, he got off of his bike and, holding his bike above his head to appear bigger, he slowly backed away from the area. When he felt far enough, he sat, waiting with his phone camera pointed toward the area he had seen the mountain lion. Hoffman said he was probably about 50 feet away from the lion when he took this video.

“I didn’t know where it was because it didn’t make any noise,” Hoffman said in a phone interview this afternoon. “I was just sitting there, not really knowing what to do.”

After close to 10 minutes of sitting there filming, Hoffman saw the mountain lion leap out of the bushes (about 14 seconds into the posted video). The large cat then stood still, staring at Hoffman for about a minute. Hoffman then decided to stand up, and the mountain lion scampered away.

As an avid mountain biker and resident of Sunny Brae, Hoffman said he has seen a few mountain lions in his time and this one looked to be in the small to medium size range. It could have been a juvenile, Hoffman said, adding that he is not an expert. Though he’s seen mountain lions many times, Hoffman said this was definitely the closest he’s been.

Though Hoffman felt a “mixture of excitement and fear” during his mountain lion encounter, he said that he did not feel particularly threatened by the animal. Hoffman wanted to share this video, not only to remind people that mountain lions are out there and you can encounter one at any time (Hoffman took this video at about 3:30 p.m.), but also that such an encounter does not need to be a cause for panic.

“These animals are top predators and sometimes by seeing them, people will think negatively of them and think we have to remove them,” Hoffman said. “I hope the video shows that you can see a top predator and I never felt threatened. I hope more people look at this as a reminder to prepare for an encounter like this, to help keep themselves and the wildlife safe.”