I’m not sure if I believe in Bigfoot. But I do believe that the legends and culture behind the Sasquatch can lead to some fantastic family adventures! As a native Southern Oregonian, hiking is something that is very important to me and my family. It’s also a fun, frugal way to explore the world around us. Mix a fun hike with a unique roadside attraction, and the Bigfoot Trap is an unmissable Oregon attraction for families and hiking enthusiasts!
ALL ABOUT BIGFOOT
Legends of a mysterious creature are told all over the world, but there’s nothing quite like the Pacific Northwest’s legend of Bigfoot. When in college, I worked at a Southern Oregon souvenir store, and created an entire display of Bigfoot maps, a cast of a Bigfoot footprint, and even chocolate Bigfoot poop! Us Oregonians can certainly strike up a debate about the legitimacy of our local Sasquatch! Yet somehow, we have yet to provide verifiable proof of the alleged “skunk ape.”
Even the previous generation had strong opinions about Bigfoot, and were determined to study the beast. In 1974 a research team got a special permit to construct a 100-square-foot building in the middle of the forest. This would be the first, and to date, only Bigfoot trap ever built. They also built a caretaker’s cabin nearby so a worker could hear whenever the trap door shut. The Bigfoot Trap had an unfortunate six-year run. Despite being regularly baited with carcasses, the trap only captured bears and some very confused hunters. This research project was eventually abandoned.
BIGFOOT TRAP TODAY
Years later, a paved road ran through Siskiyou National Forest. On one side of the road, the Applegate Lake is a local attraction for swimming and other water activities. Fewer people look across the street at a network of mountain hiking trails.
When I visited, we wouldn’t have known that the Collings Mountain Trailhead led to the Bigfoot Trap if we hadn’t done a lot of research ahead of time. An image of a footprint is the only indicator on the trail sign. While there’s no real parking area, there is space on the side of the road for a few cars. We parked there and enjoyed a mile-long hike to the trap.
The youngest child I took was 5 years old, and this hike was fairly easy even for him. However, the trail does split several times, and one path can take hikers on a 10-mile uphill journey to the Collings Mountain Summit! To make it to the Bigfoot Trap, just remember: turn left at every fork in the road. This part of the trail goes over some rocks and other rough terrain, and may be icy in the wintertime. It was all worth it when we finally spotted a structure made of planks and telephone poles.
Because I went with several families and individuals, we had kids ranging from preschool to young adult. All of them took interest in exploring the Bigfoot Trap. Unlike the unfortunate hunters from the 70s, it is now safe to crawl under the trap door and pose for pictures. In 1980, the door was bolted open, and 10 years ago, the Passport in Time program repaired the trap for structural integrity.
BIGFOOT BELIEVERS AND SASQUATCH SKEPTICS
While the Bigfoot Trap hike can take a little over an hour round-trip, there is plenty to do nearby to expand this excursion. The trail is home to several geocaches, with hidden containers you can locate using GPS coordinates. Because remote locations often mean bigger and better geocaches, we enjoyed logging our names and trading souvenirs at a couple of these geocaches.
The Collings Mountain Trailhead is located on Applegate Road, which is a few miles north of the California border and about an hour’s drive from either Grants Pass or Medford, Oregon. There are a few other attractions to stop by on this scenic drive. The historic McKee Bridge is located just off of the road and is about to celebrate its 100th birthday. This covered bridge reopened recently to foot traffic after being closed off for years due to deterioration.
For a slightly longer detour, visit Buncom, one of Oregon’s many ghost towns. I’ve visited this three-building ghost town several times and it always feels like a walk back in time to the Gold Rush days. Because we were coming from the Medford area, we also had to pass through the historic city of Jacksonville. This is a great place for living history and local shopping!
Are you a Bigfoot Believer or a Sasquatch Skeptic?