Mountain Lion Tracks & Prints | How to Spot Their Tracks

In this article, we will discuss Mountain Lion Tracks. Mountain lions, also known as cougars or pumas, are elusive creatures that often leave signs of their presence behind. The most common way to identify mountain lion activity is through their tracks. These tracks can be found in various forms, including paw prints and scat. By learning how to spot these signs, you can better understand these majestic predators‘ movement patterns and behavior.

When it comes to identifying mountain lion tracks, size is key. Adult mountain lions usually have larger ways than other animals in their habitat. Their front paws measure 3-4 inches wide, while their hind feet are slightly smaller. Mountain lion tracks typically do not show claw marks like dogs or coyotes since they can retract their claws when walking.

Another important factor to consider when looking for mountain lion signs is location.

What Do Mountain Lion Tracks Look Like?

When venturing into the wilderness, knowing your surroundings and what signs to look for is important. One such sign that often goes unnoticed is mountain lion tracks. These elusive creatures leave behind distinct footprints that can reveal their presence in an area. Mountain lion tracks are characterized by unique features distinguishing them from other wildcat species.

First and foremost, the size of mountain lion tracks can vary depending on the individual’s age and sex. Adult male tracks measure about 3.5 inches long, females tend to be slightly smaller at around 3 inches long. Another defining characteristic is the presence of four toes with retractable claws visible in the track marks. Unlike domestic cat prints, mountain lions have larger paw pads with a distinctive “M” shaped heel pad at the posterior end.

Mountain Lion Tracks

Do Mountain Lions have Claws?

Mountain lions, also known as cougars or pumas, are majestic and powerful creatures that roam the mountains of North and South America. They are renowned for their stealthy hunting abilities and keen sense of agility. But do mountain lions have claws? The answer is a resounding yes! Mountain lions possess sharp retractable claws that are vital to their survival.

These magnificent predators use their lethal claws for various purposes. First and foremost, they rely on them to capture and kill their prey swiftly. Mountain lions can quickly take down animals much larger than themselves with speed, strength, and razor-sharp claws. These remarkable felines use their feet to climb trees effortlessly when seeking refuge or surveying their surroundings from a good vantage point.

The impressive tacks left behind by mountain lions offer undeniable proof of their clawed existence.

Mountain lion Scate  

Mountain lion scat, also known as mountain lion tracks, are valuable indicators of the presence and behavior of these elusive creatures in their natural habitat. These large cats leave distinctive signs to help researchers and wildlife enthusiasts gain insights into their feeding habits, territory marking, and overall population distribution. Identifying and studying mountain lion scat is essential to conservation efforts to protect these magnificent predators.

One characteristic feature of mountain lion scat is its size and shape. It often appears similar to a domestic cat but on a much larger scale. The droppings are cylindrical with tapered ends and can measure up to four inches in diameter. Due to their territorial nature, mountain lions use their scat to mark boundaries and communicate with other individuals.

Mountain lion Gait

Understanding the Mountain Lion Gait: Unraveling the Mysteries of Their Tracks

When venturing into the untamed wilderness, it is common to come across the tracks left behind by elusive mountain lions. These magnificent creatures have maintained an airy mystery around them, leaving researchers and nature enthusiasts intrigued by their stealthy ways. Deciphering these enigmatic tracks can provide invaluable insights into their behavior and movement patterns.

The distinctive gait of mountain lions serves as a window into their world. These majestic predators leave behind tracks that showcase their unique walking style. With four toes on each paw, they possess retractable claws that are mostly hidden during movement, giving them an advantage when stalking prey or traversing rugged terrains. By carefully examining the size and depth of these tracks, experts can estimate the weight and size of individual mountain lions, providing vital information for conservation efforts.

Other Signs of Mountain Lions

 Other signs of mountain lions can be just as telling as their tracks. One key indicator is their scat or droppings. Mountain lion scat is typically large and segmented, similar to the droppings of a domestic cat but much larger. It often contains the remains of undigested hair and bones from their prey, such as deer or small mammals. Mountain lions mark their territory by leaving scratch marks on trees, logs, or rocks. These markings are usually about 4-8 feet off the ground and can appear as deep grooves or long scratches caused by the cat’s sharp claws.

Another sign to watch out for is partially buried carcasses of prey. Mountain lions often cover their kills with leaves, dirt, or snow to hide them from scavengers and ensure a future meal.

Mountain Lion Tracks

Mountain lion Sounds  

Mountain lion sounds can be both awe-inspiring and bone-chilling. Mountain lions are apex predators known for their stealthy nature and exceptional hunting abilities. When it comes to vocalization, these magnificent creatures use a range of sounds to communicate with each other and establish territory. Mountain lions are not shy in expressing their presence, from growls to hisses.

The most distinctive sound made by mountain lions is their piercing scream, often described as a combination of a woman’s scream and a bird’s chirp. Female mountain lions typically use this spine-tingling call during mating season or when they want to attract males from nearby territories. It serves as an advertisement for their availability and can carry for miles through the rugged terrain.

Screams another common sound made by mountain lions is a series of low-pitched growls or roars.

Mountain Lion Tracks vs. Similar Tracks.

Mountain lion tracks are often mistaken for the ways of other animals due to their similar appearance. One common misconception is that mountain lion tracks can be confused with those of domestic dogs, particularly large breeds. There are distinct differences between the two. Mountain lion tracks are round, with four toe pads and a large triangular heel pad at the back. In contrast, dog tracks typically show claw marks and are more oval.

The bobcat is another animal whose tracks can be easily confused with those of mountain lions. Both species belong to the same family (Felidae) and share similar footprint characteristics. Bobcat prints are round-shaped but smaller than mountain lion prints, lacking the prominent heel pad in the latter’s tracks.

AnimalMountain LionLynxCat / BobcatWolf/dogBearJaguar
SizeBetween 2½ and 4 inches.Smaller, 2 to 3½ inches.Small, 1 to 1½.Larger, up to 5 inches long.Varies, usually over 4 inches, up to 14.Up to 5 inches.
ShapeRoundRoundRoundOval (Tall)Oval (Wide)Round, usually wider.
Claw marksRarely sharp marks.Rarely sharp marks.Rarely sharp marks.Always blunt claw marks.Always blunt claw marks.Rarely sharp marks.
GaitLong steps, regular, directly registeringShort steps, regular, directly registeringLong stages, irregular.Long steps, irregular.Long steps, irregular.Long steps, regular, directly registering


Spotting mountain lion signs and prints can be a thrilling experience for outdoor enthusiasts. By understanding their tracks and other indicators, we can gain insights into the presence and behavior of these elusive creatures. Mountain lions are solitary and generally avoid humans, so encountering one in the wild is rare. If you experience any signs of a mountain lion, it is crucial to remain calm and follow safety guidelines. By being aware of and identifying their tracks, we can better appreciate these magnificent animals’ majesty ensuring our safety in their habitat. Stay vigilant and enjoy exploring the wilderness responsibly!

Frequently Asked Question

How can I identify mountain lion tracks?

Mountain lion tracks typically show four toes with no claw marks and are larger than a domestic cat’s.

Are mountain lion tracks easily recognizable?

Once you learn the distinguishing features, such as the rounded shape and absence of nail imprints, identifying their tracks becomes easier.

Where can I find mountain lion tracks?

Mountain lions often leave tracks in soft soil, mud, or snow near trails, natural water sources, or areas with abundant prey.

Can I determine the size of a mountain lion from its footprints?

It’s difficult to estimate their size based on footprints accurately, larger tracks generally indicate a larger individual.

Are there any other signs that suggest the presence of mountain lions?

Alongside footprints, look for other indicators like scat (faeces), scratch marks on trees or rocks, and partially buried prey remains.

Should I be concerned if I spot mountain lion tracks near my residence?

It’s rare for mountain lions to approach human settlements, so it’s advisable to be cautious and follow safety guidelines if seen nearby.

Lesley Kate
Latest posts by Lesley Kate (see all)