Here in the Los Angeles foothills, where we live, we would have to hike through the chaparral forests in groups so that if we encounter a mountain lion or a bear we could stand it down. Wearing bells on shoes, talking, and singing while walking help to alert wild animals. It is when they are surprised that they might attack.
Usually groups are led by a guide, so these cost money, but it is safer. However, these guided groups usually sell out fast, so make reservations early.
Beware, if you go for the five-mile walk or more, you must ease into it by walking every day in preparation. I though that I was fit and ready to go, but I was not. I went on a five-mile wilderness walk in Griffith Park, where they also have sighted cougars. Although the trails were steep, the views were awesome, and the people in the group were fantastic. We all had a wonderful time. However, the next morning, the pain in my hips was excruciating, but within a week, I had fully recovered. The sights of God's beautiful earth and the smell of fresh mountain air even within the city was worth any pain.