There is a wish held by every cryptozoologist, Sasquatch enthusiast, child, playful adult, and avid hikers: to see Bigfoot.
Pictures, film footage, and plaster casts are fine. Mysterious hair and bones in the forest will work in a pinch. But, in the end, people want to see Bigfoot with their own eyes. And that isn’t so easy to do.
To date, there is not a single Bigfoot held in captivity in the entire world. There are no zoos with a Bigfoot family. There are no Bigfoot reserves created by a philanthropist’s endowment. After all, the fleeting chance of ever seeing a Bigfoot is the whole reason so many people want to. And make no mistake, sightings of the cryptid are very, very, very rare. Very. Even in areas with a long history of encounters. Even in the exact same place an encounter occurred before.
So searching for Bigfoot is not for the faint of heart nor the easily discouraged. And especially given Bigfoot’s aversion to industrial society, it isn’t for anyone uncomfortable with hiking and camping for days — if no one ever introduced you as their “outdoorsy” friend, a Bigfoot search might not be for you.
Say you are up to the challenge. Say you are committed. Where do you go to look for Bigfoot? If only there was a path through protected forests known for Bigfoot sightings that you could visit.
Well, as luck would have it…
The Bigfoot Trail
The Bigfoot Trail is a magnificent experience, Sasquatch sighting or no. Set in northernmost California and southern Oregon, the trail is an unofficial trek across a diverse range of wilderness zones.
The 360 mile odyssey winds its way through multiple paths and backroads. It links together protected forest land, National Parks, a State Park, and spans two states (although you’ll only briefly hike through Oregon). It boasts 49 miles alongside wild and scenic rivers and 168 miles inside designated wilderness.
While it does cut through an area rife with Bigfoot sightings and home to the first modern Bigfoot story, that is not the only reason to visit. The trail sends you across the Klamath Mountains and a temperate coniferous forest at the high end of biodiversity — it boasts 32 kinds of conifer trees.
Due to its unique soil and geology, the range is home to several endemic and relict species. (Endemic species only live in a single area, and relict species live in a small area though used to be much more widespread.) The area’s consistent weather patterns have allowed species to survive there long after they disappeared from the rest of the region.
It is interesting that the features that make the area special to botanists and biologists are the same for cryptozoologists. The Klamath Mountains are like a place lost to time. It’s gentle, steady climate providing a home for species that the rest of the world forgot. And humans haven’t done much spoiling in the meantime. Since the area was very undeveloped when protected parks began sprouting around the country, much of the forested land was conserved before the arrival of highways, subdivisions, and strip malls.
In other words, it’s the perfect setting for Bigfoot. If he doesn’t live there, then Bigfoot might consider moving.
History and Future of the Bigfoot Trail
Author and educator Michael Kauffman proposed the trail in 2009. It was only seven years earlier that Kauffman finished his first long distance hike, completing the heroic Continental Divide Trail southbound. After the hike, he left his teaching position and moved to rural Humboldt County — an outdoorsman’s dream.
It was there that he began drawing up ideas for a long distance hike along the Pacific Crest. His wife Allison, however, thought that the local Klamath Mountains were a better setting. Michael agreed. The Bigfoot Trail was born.
Kauffman took the inaugural hike in 2009. The route was patched together with trails over varying quality and requiring many different levels of skill. A lot of the 360 miles is made up of trails built in the 1930’s and 40’s, but those aren’t even the oldest. Some of the hike uses hunting trails created by Native Americans long before Europeans invaded.
So while the trail was proven possible to hike, there were challenges to overcome to make it more accessible. But word spread quickly, and many hikers visited despite (or because of) the rough conditions.
In 2015, Kauffman raised funds to establish the Bigfoot Trail Alliance, and by the next year they were working to improve the state of the trail. Today, they work as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization alongside the Forest Service and other groups to make repairs and attain National Recreational Trail status.
The organization has also established six photo-monitoring stations. These stations are recording the area to observe the effects of climate change. This citizen science project involves volunteers using the trail to access key points in the Klamath Mountains and work to collect the data needed to protect it. Go for Bigfoot, stay for ecological justice.
For anyone with experience on long trail hikes and a passion for Bigfoot, this really is the perfect destination for you. If you want to support the project, consider becoming a member of the Bigfoot Trail Alliance. Your small contribution will help preserve the trail, fund more citizen science projects, and ensure that all the species native to the region will continue into the future. Bigfoot will thank you.