Exploring Cleveland National Forest: 10 Amazing Animals We Spotted On Our Hike

Cleveland National Forest wildlife 1

If you’re an animal lover and nature enthusiast, then exploring the Cleveland National Forest is one of the best ways to get close to nature and spot some amazing wildlife. From American black bears and coyotes, to raptors and lizards, the park has plenty of unique creatures that call it home. 

In this article, we take a look at 10 animals we spotted during our hike in Cleveland National Forest and provide tips on how to be responsible when viewing wildlife!

Mule deer

We spotted tons of mule deer on our hike through Cleveland National Forest! 

Mule deer Cleveland National Forest wildlife

These deer are named for their large ears, which are shaped like those of a mule (a donkey-like animal). 

Mule deer are generally larger than other types of deer, such as white-tailed deer. These animals have brown fur that turns to a reddish-brown color during the winter months. Male mule deer (called bucks) grow antlers each year. 

The size of the antlers depends on the age and health of the buck. Mule deer are very good at jumping, and they can leap up to 10 feet high! These animals are mostly active at dawn and dusk, but they may also be seen during the day. Mule deer usually live in herds, but bucks will sometimes live alone. These animals eat leaves, grasses, and twigs.

California quail

California quail are a species of quail found in the Cleveland National Forest. They are medium-sized birds with plump bodies and short legs. The males have a distinctive black crest on their head, while the females have a brownish-grey crest. Both sexes have a white stripe running down the middle of their backs.

California quail Cleveland National Forest wildlife

 California quail are social birds that live in small groups or flocks. They feed on seeds, insects, and other small invertebrates. These birds nest in the ground, usually beneath a bush or tree. The female lays up to 12 eggs which hatch after about two weeks.

We spotted several California quail during our hike through the Cleveland National Forest. They were relatively easy to spot due to their distinctive plumage and behaviour. These birds were quite shy however, and quickly ran away when we got too close.

American black bear (note: not seen by most for long in the Cleveland National Forest)

The American black bear is generally shy and reclusive, but can be seen occasionally foraging for food or taking a nap in the sun. Although they are not considered to be a threat to humans, it is still important to give them space and not approach them. 

American black bear Cleveland National Forest wildlife

American black bears inhabit all types of habitats within the Cleveland National Forest, including hardwood forests, chaparral shrublands, and riparian corridors. They are omnivorous and feed on a variety of foods including fruits, nuts, insects, small mammals, fish, and carrion. 

American black bears in Cleveland National Forest are a valuable part of the ecosystem, keeping it healthy and balanced. It is important to give them their space and not approach or feed them. With proper management, the black bear population in Cleveland National Forest can remain healthy and thrive.

Mountain lion

We spotted this magnificent creature on our hike through the forest and were able to get a few photos. 

Mountain lion Cleveland National Forest wildlife

The mountain lion is an apex predator and one of the most feared animals in North America. They are also one of the most elusive, which makes spotting one in the wild all the more special. If you’re lucky enough to see a mountain lion in the Cleveland National Forest, be sure to enjoy the experience and take plenty of pictures!


We spotted this coyote on our hike through the forest and were able to get a few photos.

Coyote Cleveland National Forest wildlife

Coyotes are often feared by people, but they are actually shy creatures that avoid humans whenever possible. In fact, Coyotes play an important role in the ecosystem by preying on small mammals like rodents. This helps to keep the population of these animals in check, which can prevent disease from spreading.

While we were lucky enough to spot a coyote during our hike, you’re not likely to see one if you’re just out for a walk in the park. If you do happen to see a coyote, it’s important to remember that they are wild animals and should not be approached. Enjoy them from a distance and be sure to take plenty of pictures!

Red-tailed hawk

As we hiked through Cleveland National Forest, we spotted a beautiful red-tailed hawk perched atop a tree. This majestic bird of prey is native to North America and is easily recognizable by its reddish-brown tail. 

Red tailed hawk National Forest wildlife

The red-tailed hawk is a powerful hunter, preying on small mammals, reptiles, and birds. We were thrilled to see this stunning creature in its natural habitat and enjoyed watching it soar overhead as we continued our hike.

The red-tailed hawk is an important part of the ecosystem in Cleveland National Forest and is a vital part of the food chain. It helps to control populations of small animals, keeping them from becoming too large or out-of-control. 

The red-tailed hawk also plays a role in seed dispersal, as it helps to spread the seeds from plants throughout the area. It is an important species that helps maintain a healthy balance within the local environment. 

Seeing this stunning bird was truly an incredible experience and we were thankful for being able to witness its majestic beauty. We hope that this species continues to thrive in Cleveland National Forest so that future generations can enjoy its presence as well.


Raccoons are one of the most common animals found in Cleveland National Forest. They are nocturnal creatures that are most active at night, but can sometimes be seen during the day. 

Raccoon National Forest wildlife

Raccoons are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. Some of their favorite foods include insects, frogs, berries, and nuts. Raccoons are excellent climbers and often build their dens high up in trees.

We spotted this raccoon near the entrance to Cleveland National Forest. He was scrounging around for food in the leaves and seemed unafraid of us humans. It was a really cool experience to see such an amazing animal up close in its natural habitat!

American marten

The American marten is a medium-sized member of the weasel family that can be found throughout North America. In Cleveland National Forest, these animals are most commonly seen in the trees, where they hunt for small birds and rodents. 

American marten National Forest wildlife

While their populations have declined in some areas due to habitat loss, they are still relatively common in this part of the country.

American martens can be identified by their long bodies, short legs, and thick fur. They have a yellow-brown coloration with a white throat and chest. Their tail is bushy and often tipped with black. In Cleveland National Forest, they are most active during the day; however, they can also be seen at night, when they come out to hunt for food.

Grey squirrel

The Cleveland National Forest is home to a variety of amazing animals, including the grey squirrel. These playful creatures are a delight to watch as they scamper around in the trees, searching for acorns and other nuts.

Grey squirrel National Forest wildlife

 Grey squirrels are not shy and will often approach hikers in search of a handout. Be sure to have some snacks on hand to share with these friendly animals!

Though they may look cute and cuddly, grey squirrels can be quite aggressive if they feel threatened. Be sure to keep your distance and never try to touch or feed them without permission.

Western fence lizard

These lizards are easily recognizable by their distinctive blue belly and black lines running down their back.

Western fence lizard National Forest wildlife

These lizards are shy but curious, and will often approach hikers to get a better look. They are not afraid to climb trees, and can often be seen basking in the sun on branches.

Western fence lizards are good swimmers and can sometimes be seen swimming in ponds and streams. They are also good climbers, and can often be seen scaling rocks and cliffs.

These lizards eat insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They use their long tongue to flick prey into their mouth.

Western fence lizards are native to the western United States, but have been introduced to other parts of the country, including the Cleveland National Forest. These lizards prefer habitats with plenty of hiding places, such as rocky areas or forests with dense vegetation.


Exploring Cleveland National Forest was a great way to connect with nature and observe some amazing wildlife. We were able to take in the sights and sounds of this stunning forest while spotting 10 different species of animals along our hike. 

Whether you’re looking for an adventure or just need some time away from the hustle and bustle, Cleveland National Forest is a great place to explore and appreciate the beauty of nature.

2 thoughts on “Exploring Cleveland National Forest: 10 Amazing Animals We Spotted On Our Hike”

  1. Is this an older post? There are
    currently no bears on the Cleveland NF. The last confirmed siting of a bear was over ten years ago. There are however a healthy population in the neighboring San Bernardino NF.

    1. Our Writer saw one crossing the road at the start of 2022!
      However, will make a note of your observation in our title.
      Thanks for keeping us in check!! appreciate!!

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