Here in Northern California, we have snakes. As a trail runner, you will definately encounter snakes. This last weekend, I saw 4 snakes, and almost stepped on the last one. On a previous run, I had to remove from the trail a 4 foot snake that was drunk on sunshine (with a large stick). (Why did I manually remove the snake? Well, it was laying across the path and refused to move, even when poked with a stick. Mountain bikes would have wiped out and squished it if someone didn't remove it. Or another runner would have stepped on it. It was very drunk on sunshine, and very large. This was not a single track, but a fire trail, and the snake spanned the whole thing.) (Snakes love to look like sticks and get drunk on sunshine on our running trails.) (Then we step on them.)
Common California snakes include the following:
Gophersnake - I see these the most. Little cuties that slither away. Brown and spotty.
Coachwhip - I don't think I have seen these, yet.
Sharp-tailed snake - These are apparently common in NorCal, but in junk and wood piles. Not the common trail snake. Never seen one.
King snake - I have seen these out in Point Reyes trails. And porbably misidentified them on other trails.
Racer snake - Statistically, some of the snakes I call gartersnakes were probably racer snakes.
Striped Racer/whipsnake - this is the snake I almost stepped on. I screamed like a baby and studder jumped over it, since I saw that I would step on it while in mid-air.
Ring necked snakes - I have never seen one of these
Western Rattlesnakes - Yes, these poisonous guys are everywhere. I have seen one on Matt Davis. My best friend's dog got bitten by one on the nose. My old boss used to kill them hiding under his car at home in the hills. (Use a shovel). There are lots of them in NorCal. They like to hide under cars, picnic tables, rocks, and like to sun themselves in the middle of the day on trails. Do not step on them.
Gartersnakes - I have seen tons of these little guys. Cute and snakey. They are usually brown or reddish with a yellow stripe on the side. Harmless. Unless you are on a mountian bike. Then think of them as crunchy slugs.
Here is a snake on the trail I am running tomorrow: