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Bigfoot Trail in Northern California
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Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Bigfoot Trail in Northern California on 06/14/2013 10:25:00 MDT Print View

Pals, (especially Ken Thomson and other denizens of northern Northern California)

Jim and I are gathering info about a few trails in areas where we haven't done much hiking, with intentions to branch out and visit some new places. We're gathering data now about the ~400 mile Bigfoot Trail in Northern California.

Bigfoot map from website

Jim has gotten a pdf file of the detailed trail info from the author of the Bigfoot Trail website., and is now building a gpx file of the trail. There's good info about the trail on the website, and even more detailed info in the pdf Jim received. We're getting pretty excited about it, as we've done very little hiking in that area. (Our only hikes that far north have been the coast from Columbia River to Arcata and a couple hikes in the Lost Coast area).

Question: In terms of timing, we know summer is too hot for our liking, and winter has too much snow. So we're choosing between a spring trip and autumn trip. Any thoughts about the optimal timing? We have complete flexibility and would like to go when the trail is at its best. That means - no mosquitos, no extensive snow (crossing minor remnants of winter snow is not a problem), wildflowers would be a bonus (but not if it means mosquitos).

What is the normal timing for earliest access in the spring, after the snow has melted, and do these mountains have mosquitos like the Sierra, or are they mosquito-free like Big Sur and Bay Area mountains? I'm assuming that timing for an autumn trip would be late September to late October, does that sound right?

We've got flexibility, so we can play it by ear based on snow-pack, but I'm trying to get a best guess so we can pencil in some dates.

Thanks much, AmyL

Edited by drongobird on 06/14/2013 10:29:45 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Bigfoot Trail in Northern California on 06/14/2013 17:37:36 MDT Print View

Contact John Abela. He's been working on this project for some time.

October is magic.

Snow free and the heat pretty much come at the same time. Already in the high 90's in Weaverville.

Late May can be hot, or not. Bugs, yes. Sierra like black mass, no.

Edited by kthompson on 06/14/2013 17:41:38 MDT.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Bigfoot Trail in Northern California on 06/14/2013 17:52:17 MDT Print View

Thanks for the pointer Ken. I sent JohnA a PM. Amy

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Re: Bigfoot Trail in Northern California on 06/14/2013 20:01:30 MDT Print View


I will keep this brief...

The BFT has *never* been successfully thru-hiked as far as I am aware. Three people have indicated they have section hiked it but I have zero knowledge of anybody that has successfully thru-hiked the BFT. That really should be all that needs to be said.

The pdf that MK distributes is rather old. A rather significant amount of the miles of the trail do not exist anymore. Some from fire and some from other causes. Some of what use to be right-of-ways from the timber companies have been revoked - and MK seems to have no knowledge of this or any desire to update the pdf map. The last time he and I spoke he made it rather clear to me that he had no desire to continue development on the trail. I have been the only person working on the trail the last two or so years and I have never provided any data to him - because as stated, he told me he had no intentions of doing any more work on the trail, so no reason to waste my time sending it his way. MK has pretty much moved on in life and has been working on publishing books - I think his second book is soon to be released, if it has not already. The BFT was something he made for himself and for some reason he posted it on the internet making it sound like it was all good and ready to go, when I am not even sure if he has ever thru-hiked it. I know he has section hiked it a couple of times. I am not intending to slam on MK rather just trying to provide insight into the phase development of the trail.

I have been building GPS data on it for at least two years and there is easily another 3 or so years of building GPS data on it before it will be safe to say that a solid route is ready. Already this year I have had to develop a 20 mile by-pass due to a NPS change, and I still have to figure out a bypass through private property that a right-of-way was revoked for. (yet another risk for those who plan on hiking this, or the guy that just finished up section hiking it... he had no idea he was violating private property for at least two days)

For the last few weeks there has been discussion about making an entirely new route change on the Northern most section of the trail. A hiker up in Oregon has recommended a rather major reroute and at this time it is really under a lot of consideration - I am liking what the individual is proposing and I plan on trying to meet with him later this year and sit down with the local government folks he is working with to try to get the trail reroute developed. I share this simply to present the fact that this "trail" is just not really a "trail" yet.

There are many many things that you will be faced if you decide to give the BFT a go on a thru-hiker.

I posted all of my thoughts on an attempted thru-hike of the BTF within this post on facebook. My post did not make a whole lot of people very happy, but every single fact I present are issues you should/need take into consideration.

I have spent more time on the trail than anybody else (including MK) and my personal thoughts are that this trail needs another five or so years of development before it should even be listed anywhere on the internet as a "hikeable trail". You and your husband have a pretty good deal of off-trail experience and I think this trail could put the two of you to a test. Take on the BFT if the both of you feel like a new challenge in your hiking career, but if you are not up for a challenge, might want to hold off for a few more years as we get it developed. The website that MK put together makes this trail sound a whole lot more viable and ready to be hiked than what it is.

If you guys do decide to give it a go, contact me and lets make sure we get you some emergency contacts to be able to get a hold of folks via a SatPhone for if you need to bail out. SatPhone is pretty much the only way to communicate from a good percentage of the BFT - as it goes right through some of the most remote places in America at this point in time. I can get you a contact on the southern end and at the northern end, but anywhere in the middle and on the final sections there is just nobody. Three towns along the trail but nobody in them has been willing to be trail angels. Middle of last year I spent two days going through the two southern towns trying to find trail angels and nobody was willing. If you guys have the ability to drive about 200 miles and put down some caches that could greatly aid in things. The way I would plan to thru-hike it involves four caches. Doing so is going to reduce the need to carry 7-10 days worth of food, down to a more ideal 4-5 days worth of food.

I spent eleven weeks last year attempting to find a starting route that would not require the hell that is Mt. Linn as a starting point. Pretty mountain and all, but a horrific location to start a 400 mile trail. I have spent another three weeks so far this year doing further scouting of potential starting points and routing. I have been trying to get together with a non-profit group of horse riders that are doing authorized trail development along the South Fork Trinity River. They seem to be able to be the best source to help with trying to develop a more viable starting location, yet still be able to take in a fair amount of the first three sections of the trail. I have no idea when this is going to happen, but talks have been progressing.

Would I love to see somebody successfully thru-hike the BFT? Heck yeah. I would even be more excited if you/they took along a high quality GPS (ie: Garmin 62 series) and be willing to share your course data with me to combine with all that I have. What I have been doing is when I know that a specific section of trail is going to "work" for the decade ahead, I hike it in both directions in order to acquire as accurate of GPS data as I can. But even so, having somebody else provide their own data would be really great. At this point, there are a fair number of sections where a hiker could go one way, or a whole other direction, and still end up in the same spot. The more of these different routes I can combine together will make it all the more helpful to decide on a final path to submit to the government agencies and timber companies, who get the final say.

Anyway, that is keeping it short at this point.

+John Abela

Edited by JohnAbela on 06/14/2013 20:06:42 MDT.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
re: Bigfoot Trail in Northern California on 06/14/2013 20:15:41 MDT Print View

Thanks a TON. Sure glad we asked :)
Jim and I will want to talk to you at some point, but for now that certainly steers us away from the impression we had from the pdf file Jim got from MK, which made it sound like it's good to go.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Bigfoot Trail on 06/14/2013 20:41:30 MDT Print View

Pretty mythical. Just like it's namesake. Thanks John.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Bigfoot Trail in Northern California on 06/14/2013 20:52:29 MDT Print View


I posted this earlier today but here's a link to a article about the Oregon Desert Trail. The article gives more information and a link to ONDA, the organization who is developing the trail. It isn't finished yet but hiking all or some of this one might be right up your alley, with your experience and interest in birds. Just food for thought.


Paul S
(flexabull) - F

Locale: State of Jefferson
BFT Trail on 06/17/2013 15:44:41 MDT Print View

Very cool, I've gone quite a few sections of this trail. I think the fall would be a great time to attempt it.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Bigfoot Trail in Northern California on 06/17/2013 21:12:03 MDT Print View

If the route ever becomes more clear and defined, I would consider doing it. I have been wanting to do a thru-hike and I love that part of the state.

Marc Eldridge
(meld) - MLife

Locale: The here and now.
Re: "Bigfoot Trail in Northern California" on 06/17/2013 21:43:26 MDT Print View

By the time Jim and Amy are done we will have a well defined route.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: "Bigfoot Trail in Northern California" on 07/09/2014 14:04:14 MDT Print View

Being Thru hiked right now.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Bigfoot Trail in Northern California on 07/09/2014 14:23:04 MDT Print View

Ken - thanks for keeping the thread alive. Eager to see a report once all is said and done, or attempted and not completed as the case may be.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Bigfoot Trail in Northern California on 08/04/2014 13:18:29 MDT Print View

Just wanted to post a quick update on the BFT and thru-hike successes.

* I completed a solo yo-yo in Oct/Nov of 2013.

* Sage Clegg completed a solo nobo in 17 days in July 2014

* Travis (D=rt) Anderson completed a nobo in July of 2014.

* Melissa (Treehugger) Spencer (hiking with D=rt) came very close to doing a full nobo in July of 2014 but had to stop as their dog 'Justa' started having issues.

* Another hiker who has asked to remain nameless completed a full sobo the last 2 weeks of July and finished up August 02 2014.

At this point in time that constitutes the known list of successful thru-hikes of the BFT.