Rattlesnake Mountain

Area: Rattlesnake Mountain Preserve consists of 368 acres in the City of Santee, San Diego County, California.

Location: The Preserve is located in the southeast corner of the City of Santee, California, just west of the intersection of State Routes 52 and 67.  The City of El Cajon is along its southern boundary, and the City of Lakeside is along the eastern boundary.

In addition, there are two additional areas that are part of the Preserve:  East Mesa, located  south of Grossmont College and adjacent to State Route 125; and  Santee Hills  located near the future Fanita Ranch and the north side of the City, near the terminus of Magnolia Drive.

Date Acquired: 2007-2012

Acquisition Type: CNLM owns Rattlesnake Mountain Preserve

Key Habitats: Coastal Scrub

Species of Special Interest to CNLM: Coastal California Gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica), Coast Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum), Orange-throated whiptail (Aspidoscelis hyperythra beldingi), Red-diamond rattlesnake (Crotalus exsul ruber), Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus viridescens) and Cleveland’s goldenstar (Bloomeria clevelandii).


The Preserve is primarily comprised of coastal sage scrub and native and nonnative grassland.  It supports several sensitive species, including the federally listed threatened coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica), coast horned lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum), orange-throated whiptail (Aspidoscelis hyperythra beldingi), Cleveland’s goldenstar (Bloomeria clevelandii), and barrel cactus (Ferocactus viridescens).  It is one of the largest blocks of habitat remaining in the City of Santee.

Our Work

Although most of the habitat on-site is of good quality, there are several areas that support dense stands of non-native mustards (Brassica nigra, B. tournfordii and Hirschfeldia ssp.). CNLM’s primary goal is to remove these invasive species and restore native shrubs to the Preserve. Since 2013, eight acres of habitat degraded by nonnative mustard species has been enhanced to create coastal sage scrub.  Ongoing enhancement efforts include planting and irrigating native shrub and cactus species.  CNLM staff conduct regular monitoring of sensitive species and routine patrols to project the property.  In 2018, twenty-one pair of coastal California gnatcatchers were observed on all three sites, an increase of eleven pair since 2014.

Public Access

This preserve is open to the public.

There are two trails on the property, one leads to our viewpoint, the other connects the neighborhood to the adjacent school.


For information on Rattlesnake Mountain Preserve or Center for Natural Lands Management, please contact Tobin Weatherson, Preserve Manager at tweatherson@cnlm.org or 760.731.7790 extension 232.