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No, it's Tarantula Season! Hiking in the California Hills

Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

No, it's Tarantula Season! Hiking in the California Hills

Paula Gaston

Soon the summer is turning into autumn, and the hot Californian weather cools down. That will bring all kinds of bugs inside the houses seeking warmth. Somehow the little spiders are able to find their way in, and every once in a while you will wake up with a spider bite on your leg. 

Some bigger spiders are also on the move during the fall. On your hikes in the hills you can run into a tarantula, especially if you are at Sunol Wilderness Park, Morgan Territory, Del Valle Regional Park or Mount Diablo State Park, California. Tarantulas normally move mostly during the dark, but in September and October, the males are out to find a partner for mating. They wander around any time of the day even on the hiking trails. Some parks even organise hikes to search out tarantulas with their naturalists. The males usually die within a year of mating, or get eaten by the females. During summers, you might occasionally see a younger tarantula on the hiking trails, but fall is the best time to spot these creepy crawlies as an adult.   

We went to the Sunol Wilderness Park last fall to see these giant creatures. Right when we thought we were not lucky enough to see them, one walked right in front of us. And then another one. I had to take a step back so I wouldn't accidentally step on them. That is why, you should keep your eye on the trail and surrounding grounds. Also when you drive to the park, be aware that tarantulas might sometimes be walking on the road as well. Collecting tarantulas from parks is forbidden, as well as disturbing them in any way. Tarantulas are venomous but not lethal to humans. 

Sunol Wilderness Park

Sunol Wilderness Park

Tarantulas also have many other predators aside from humans. One of them is the tarantula hawk which hunts tarantulas. It is almost the size of a hand, and it's sting has been said to be one of the most painful stings of any insect in the world. It is quite rare to hear about them stinging a human, but it is said, that during the pain one loses all self control. Most people collapse and scream. The pain lasts about five minutes and is not lethal. I have only ever seen one in a museum. 

If you are interested in the life of tarantulas in California's hills, you can read more here


  • Pay attention to the local news in September and October. Tarantula season is usually mentioned when it starts.
  • Read about the park you plan to go to. They have different opening hours, and the websites usually tell you about the trails, parking and other valuable information. Some might offer tarantula hikes for groups. Ask some tips to spot tarantulas from the ranger.
  • You will most likely spot tarantulas crossing the roads, so keep your eye on the trail. 
  • Tarantula burrows can be spotted by looking for small holes on the ground with some silk on top of them.
  • Enjoy the nature, and wild animals! Remember that they are wild and leave no trace when hiking. Don't forget your camera!