I have never actually been bothered by a rattle snake while out running in the desert… actually, I have never been bothered by any kind of snake while out running in the desert. They usually ignore me or stay still while I scoot around them, and sometimes they even slither away. But I know that many of you have questions about trail running and snakes. I get asked in the shop about it at least once a week all year long. I am here to tell you that snakes in our area are not necessarily a reason to stay away from trail running.
It is true that the venom from a rattlesnake bite is dangerous for children and will really ruin the day of the biggest adult. It is also true that I am not any kind of expert concerning snakes. Despite that I can tell you something that I think is valuable (if anecdotal) information.
That thing is that I have been out on trails in Nevada (and other parts of the world for that matter) a lot. I really mean that. I have run the trails. I have hiked the trails. I have walked the trails. I have ridden my bike on the trails. I have also spent a lot of time going off the trails too- but that is perhaps something for another time. I have used the trails that are popular (such as Hunter Creek and Dry Pond). I have used trails that are not as popular around Washoe Lakes and above Dayton. I have used trails that are really far out there (like going up Arch Dome). I have used the trails by myself. I have used the trails with a single friend. I have used the trails with larger groups of people.
And just to be thorough and clear- I have used the trails in the winter (when you will be hard pressed to see a snake anywhere). I have used the trails in the Spring, the Summer, and the fall (when you will have a much greater chance of seeing one). I have been out in the morning. I have been out in the heat of the day. I have been out in the dead of night. Rain, snow, and sunshine all year long I really do enjoy getting out on the trails.
And in all this time I have never had any real problems with a snake on a trail. What I am saying is not wear headphones and zone out with wildlife around. What I am also not saying is don’t take extra precautions with children and dogs. And I am clearly not suggesting that you shouldn’t take some time to learn what different types of snakes look (and in the case of rattlesnakes sound) like. You should. Be sensible. You know your children, you know your pets, watch out for them and you really should tell someone where you are going beforehand. Keep your eyes peeled. It is wild out there… it is not, however, as scary as some of us might think.
Snakes are out on and around the trails in our area. They really aren’t out to get you though. For the most part if you leave them alone they will be perfectly content to leave you alone. They are just part of nature and are generally minding there own business. I have been plenty uncomfortable around snakes. I get it- it’s hard to trust an animal with no shoulders. It gives me the willies. But at the end of the day I love being out on the trail and the snakes don’t seem to mind that I am there. So don’t let their presence in their own natural habitat scare you away from the trails. You are part of nature too after all- it’s ok that you are both there together.