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Buck30 - Bigfoot Trail Journal - 2016

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Brian (Buck-30)
Begins: Sep 1, 2016
Direction: Southbound

Daily Summary
Date: Sun, Sep 18th, 2016
Start: San Diego
End: San Diego
Daily Distance: 0
Trip Distance: 358.0

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 639
Journal Visits: 13,181
Guestbook Views: 130
Guestbook Entrys: 4

Last PLB Location

Bigfoot Trail Map


These are my section notes from my September 2016 thru hike SOUTHBOUND. If you are coming northbound then you'll want to read these backwards, etc. Keep in mind this isn't the PCT, so when I say "good trail" or "good water", I don't mean PCT quality. I mean, I could walk a decent pace with some overgrowth or I could get water whether it was a small creek, pool or lake.

Section 23:

I would avoid the Elk Valley trail. There are a ton of mowed paths and social paths through brush and I couldn't get one to match the GPS track. There was a ton of trash, shopping carts and transient encampments and I didn't like the feeling. A lot of people are living back there and I got off on a lot of paths that led me to tents. I'd suggest just walking the roads into town.

Water: No water issues in this short section.

Section 22:

I walked a combination of the trail and Howland road, sometimes the dirt road was nicer as you could just stare up and space out at the giant trees.

Little Baldy Hills trail is in excellent condition.

The spigot at the backcountry campground gave me 2 liters no problem. I had read that it might only give 1 liter at a time and then needed time to refill. I had no issues. Campground is nice, technically requires a permit. Had a bear box too.

The last 1.5 miles are on a remote paved road.

Water: Water was not an issue, noted where mentioned in trail notes.

Section 21:

The first 9 miles are all pavement, first a remote but good paved road and then a very remote paved road (road 427) where you are unlikely to see a car.

The trail you follow is called the Kelsey National Recreation Trail and is in good shape.

I kind of lost the trail crossing Eightmile Creek but just climbed up the slope a bit on the other side and found it.

The last few miles to the Smith River are in good shape but have a hand full of big blow downs to climb over. It gets confusing near the river, SOBO, there is a short, steep gravel path to your right that drops 15', you want this and not the better trail straight ahead that fades out. After the little drop to the bottom, you'll walk through an old camp and there is a mixture of small cairns, signs, arrows and flagging. It's only a few tenths of a mile till you need to climb out, there was lots of flagging at this point, don't miss it.

Water: Water was not an issue, noted where mentioned in trail notes.

Section 20:

You may want to get water at Smith River. The only water until after Baldy mountain was on the way up, a small seep into a small pool around 2,400' on right. Was able to get several liters out no problem.

A California conservation crew worked the trail summer 2016, up to 3,300', the easy part. Up to 4,300' the trail wasn't worked on but was fine to walk. From this point to about 5,100', get ready for hell. Way over head high and very thick brush to push through. There are moments of reprieve but they are short lived and at times I had to use everything i had this push up through the downward sloping brush. I had no problem following the super vague trail as it's not even possible to walk off it so it's pretty obvious when you get off it. After 5,100', the brush goes down to waist or lower, the terrain opens up and it's pretty easy to walk up to Baldy although there are a bunch of downed trees from a burn. The trail was harder to follow here but the way was obvious and easy.

After the top, the first 0.6 are obliterated, I only barely ever saw trail. At a rock outcropping there was a big cairn and very good trail picked up until nearing Harrington Creek. At this point I started following an excellent set of small cairns and pink and green flagging which took me off the BFT gps track until Harrington Lake where I reconnected. I think this is now the trail. Careful, just before the lake you need to take a sharp left at pink flagging. The cairns continue straight to I don't know where. Pink flagging continues on the BFT. The lake was the first water for me since the other side of Baldy and was good sized and a few feet deep.

At this point the trail is fine to follow although on the descent later it's slightly vague but fine.

Watch for the junction with the Kelsey trail (#2 on map). I missed this and went down the wrong trail and had to bushwhack back. Because of this I missed Willis Hole and do not know if there was late season water.

After the lake, I had water at 306.5, "level out briefly....and cross a small Creek". It had a small pool with a tiny in and out flow. After this there was water at all the trail notes to the end of the section.

Trail notes #1, watch for this 3 way junction, it would be easy to keep walking and miss the sharp left turn. There was a medium cairn.

Section 19:

Lots of water and good, easy trail to follow!

Section 18:

First thing, as you are walking down an old road, don't miss the left turn onto singletrack, set back is a sign for Twin Valley.

Trail in this section is in good shape and easy to walk until the end. The alternate trail route north of Poker Flat was noted on the map as flagged but not completed as of 2015. I found the start which was flagged but covered by a tree and it didn't look like trail work had been done. I took the dirt road not wanting to risk a brutal bushwhack. I looked for the other end on the north side but didn't see a trail coming out of the forest to the dirt road junction at the #3. So not sure what the trail status is.

From the #3 you will walk on an old logging road, not in great shape but ok to walk. You'll hit a section with very overgrown brush, pay attention as this is about where you need to turn left and follow the flagline. There were a few small cairns but I didn't see any flagging tape yet and ended up bushwhacking a few minutes over the small ridgeline and picked up some flagging on the other side. The flagging was very good, but there is barely a trail. It looks like one person dug out a trail with a garden hoe. I struggled to keep to the trail even with the flagging early on but the closer to the road you get the better the flagging and trail gets. In total it's only about 2/3 of mile but you don't want to be bushwhacking on the steep hillside. If you are NOBO, you should see some flagging on the left side of Indian Creek from the road. If not, walk up the left side about 100' and there is lots of flagging heading up.

Water: All trail notes water points had water.

Section 17:

Dirt road was good and the Boundary Trail was in very good shape having recent trail maintenance.

Water at Tanner Lake and the Creek noted between #2&3. I didn't note the beautiful spring water down the dirt track, the description is pretty vague, a waypoint would be helpful if anyone finds it although I didn't need the water.

Section 16:

Good trail all the way to about a 1/2 mile after Lonesome Lake (Between about Bailey's cabin which doesn't exist and Goff Butte) and then the trail is obliterated in a burn for maybe 1/3 mile. I climbed up a small bit to the ridge and walked that which worked well.

The Ft. Goff trail is about a mile after Lonesome lake, not 0.3 per the trail notes.

Watch your junctions in this section, most are either unsigned or there is a sign but not pointing in your direction.

Water is good in Azalea and Lonesome Lakes. The rest of the trail note mentioned water was either seeps or small pools, I wouldn't count on in late season.

Due to a fire closure of the PCT/BFT north of Seiad, I took the Ft. Goff trail down to 96 and walked into Seiad. The trail was manageable but I wouldn't recommend it unless you have to

Section 15:

As noted above, the PCT was closed north of Seiad so nothing for me to report although another BFT hiker did report to me that Lookout Spring on the PCT in mid July was running very slow and possibly not to count on it late season.

South of Seiad, you are on the PCT paved and dirt road walk.

If you need a place to camp instead of noisy Seiad, as you cross Girder Creek 5 miles south of Seiad, you could make a nice and pretty quiet camp on a little side road next to the bridge.

The remaining water noted south of Seiad was flowing.

Section 14:

PCT! Good trail!!

If you are SOBO you have a long, well graded climb of 5,000'+. The lower half is through a burn.

Water: All trail notes water points had water.

Buckhorn spring was a nice small pool, but not exactly flowing like crazy. Paradise lake was shallow but clear and good although there is a strong spring 0.6 before the lake which is best.

Section 13:

Between Paradise lake and the PCT junction, there was water at 2 unmentioned spots, a half mile before Canyon Creek (canyon Creek was actually dry) and the Marble valley guard station had a tiny good flow in a gully. The guard station is pretty defunct but some hikers have cleared about 1/3 of the inside into a clean spot to sleep if your weather is real bad.

From the PCT junction, a bit after you enter a severe burn the trail gets very vague and can be tough to follow. Once you enter forest it's easier to follow and just very overgrown. After Elk creek the trail is pretty good the rest of the section, some blowdowns here and there and sometimes a bit overgrown but not bad.

Watch the junction 0.2 before the crossing of Wooley Creek. Sobo, you go straight over the downed tree and not switchbacking right which looks more obvious.

On the big climb out of Woolley Creek, there is water around 3,000' and then a couple creeks after 5,000'. Watch the junction around 5,300', I think this is #8 on the map, end of section. Right before the switchbacks you do a sharp left up instead of the more obvious straight ahead, the junction is only partially signed. There is no water here, notes make it sound like there is.

Section 12:

Other than the PCT, this is some of the best quality trail on the BFT! Enjoy, no brush will touch you!

Water: All trail notes water points had water except Pierce's draw which was dry but there was good water in a gully a few tenths before.

Section 11:

Idlewild Campground has a toilet, picnic tables, garbage cans, water spigot and a payphone.

The dirt road walk is remote and fine.

The trail gets vague in a couple places nearing Waterdog lake, otherwise the trail is good.

Note #3, not true. Trail and road are fine.

Water: All trail notes water points had water.

Section 10:

Watch your junctions early on, there are a bunch of them.

Trail through the Wilderness was surprisingly good and easy to follow, I didn't have any issues near Fish Lake. I did lose the trail for about 10 minutes after the last ridge before Rush Lake. I also seemed to have taken the wrong trail out of Rush lake and had to cross country to the BFT. Also, over the final ridge, the trail can be vague with a fair number of blowdowns on the way down to the end of section Lady Gulch trail junction.

There are a lot of cows in the Trinity Alps Wilderness which sucks. They've mucked up the trail and water.

Water: All trail notes water points had water except "water" at 149.6 and nearing the end of the section there was only 1 Creek flowing not several per the trail notes. Also the trail doesn't actually go to Fish Lake, just before the switchbacks start you can take a vague cow path 150' to the creek. You also don't go to Rush lake and the inlet was dry, I walked 200' to the lake.

Section 9:

There seems to be a 2 mile error between the header (20.7) and the trail notes (18.7). The 18.7 appeared correct.

The trail up Packer's Peak is pretty good, vague a bit to the cabin and a short bit beyond but not hard to follow, could use a chainsaw crew though. Spring at cabin was good.

On the way down Packer's, trail is pretty good. I did lose it across a big scree slope high up and overshot a few switchbacks but overall a good trail. This is a much better hike SOBO. NOBO, damn that's a steep climb!

DON'T even think about skipping Packer's and taking the alternate. The Peak is the most prominent high point on the BFT since Crescent City 220 miles away and possibly the entire BFT.

Packer's gulch was dry. Big Meadow camp has no water or garbage, but usually lots of cars so get your yogi skills ready.

On the way to Caribou lakes there was water in a gully about 2.5 miles before the lakes. The trail is PCT quality tread! The lakes area is insanely gorgeous.

After the lakes, the trail is rocky and not as good but still decent quality. The 90+ switchbacks down to the valley are insane. The upper part is one of the greatest set of switchbacks I've seen. If you are NOBO, do not do this during the day if it's hot. Seriously. It's totally exposed and the upper part especially is very steep and there is no water.

Water: All trail notes water points had water except as noted above.

Section 8:

Although in total, the section mileage seems about right, the distances between points is jacked up. From the Stewart Fork up to the saddle no way that was only 2 miles (with 3,000' elevation gain that would be near vertical which it wasn't). Closer to 4 miles. From the saddle to the dramatic switchback it says 0.5 but at the swithback my GPS showed it 0.75 back. Doesn't sound like much but that's a 50% error. Lastly, the last 5 miles to the trailhead I walked in 80 minutes. No way. Probably only 4 miles, not 5.

The trail down the Stuart Fork is in excellent condition.

The trail up to the saddle is not that bad. Decent tread usually, one moderate section is overgrown, some blowdowns as usual and there are some good small cairns to lead you through a tricky rocky section. It is a fairly steep climb. Trail down the saddle to the trailhead is excellent. Very steep to start and then the usual fair number of blowdowns.

Water: All trail notes water points had water including water up to the saddle several times, last water maybe around 5,200'.

Section 7:

This is the start of 61 continuous miles of paved and dirt road walking. About half is paved. It's not that bad though. 90%+ is on very remote road, even the pavement is remote and I rarely saw cars. You also pass though 2 town stops to break it up.

The road walk to Junction City is really remote since the road deadends at the Canyon Creek trailhead. The first few miles have the best camping up until about halfway. Then you enter a narrow canyon and some more houses but it's still pretty OK to camp if you just get creative. There are a few stretches of houses but otherwise mostly open space and the private property signs are mostly for gold mining claims which is NF land. You can camp there, just don't pan for gold. I camped right next to the creek around mile 10 and 2 cars drive by all night.

I thought the walk from Junction City to Hayfork would be some terrible walk. Nope. Not amazingly interesting but super remote through the National Forest with a 3,000' climb! The few miles out of Junction City are a regular paved road but not busy. Then it's this cool one lane paved road where I never saw a car, then dirt up to the saddle, then dirt down, then remote pavement into Hayfork. You could camp anywhere without noise except the few miles from the towns.

Similar to the last section, the data points are jacked up. From 5 to 4, no way this is only 2.2 miles and from 2 to 1 no way this is only 2 miles. You can just tell by eyeballing the map mile scale and the distance between points. The errors roll into the next section where from 7 to 6 it's well less than 3 miles, offsetting the errors from this section. Maybe in total the mileage is correct but the data points are getting confusing.

Water: All trail notes water points had water.

Section 6:

See Section 7 for commentary.

Water: All trail notes water points had water.

Section 5:

I finished my day at the library at the far west end of town and didn't want to walk the mile back into town to pick up the lightly used roads and instead walked highway 3 as noted in the trail notes. It was pretty bad. The highway has light traffic but no shoulder and was not particularly enjoyable.

After this the roads are remote and easy going.

Water: All trail notes water points had water except #4 and #1 I didn't check out but had just found other water on the BFT very nearby.

Section 4:

The roads are dirt and easy going. Finally at #6 you end the 61 continuous miles of road that started at Section 7.

The trail starts off as narrow ATV track and turns into good single track and then turns into PCT quality trail tread all the way. This is the South Fork National Recreation Trail.

Water: All trail notes water points had water except the creek at #8 & #5 were dry.

Section 3:

Trail was in excellent condition and the roads were quiet and easy.

Water: All trail notes water points had water. Between points 3 and 2 there was a good spring along the road and several springs between points 2 and 1.

Section 2:

The trail is pretty good, although a bit overgrown with prickly stuff off and on. From North yolla bolly spring it slowly degenerates but not too bad until around the tarn (#2). From here till the Fryingpan junction in section 1, the trail has been obliterated by fire and does not exist. At times, the walking is prickly and not fun although navigation is easy in the open terrain.

Water: There was lots of water till North Yolla Villa spring. The spring was good too. Followong Robinson Creek and down to the confluence only had 3-4 small pools of pretty nasty water, that's it. There was no other water past this in this section.

Section 1:

See above for obliterated trail till Fryingpan trail junction.

There were a lot of side trails in this section per the maps and I barely saw any of the junctions. After Fryingpan junction, the trail significantly improved and while occasionally is vague it was pretty easy to follow the whole way.

Water: There was no water until the creek at #4, however, I momentarily lost the trail around D-Camp and missed the spring. I assumed it was dry so I didn't try to find it and later on a hunter told me it usually has a beautiful small pool of water late in the season. He hadn't been there this year yet but said the same time last year it was good. He said it's literally at your feet on the trail. The only issue is you probably will lose the trail in that area so you may have to search a little for it.

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Bigfoot Trail

In the initial stage of development, the Bigfoot Trail is a 400 mile hiking trail in northern California. The trail begins in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness and ends in Redwood National Park at the Pacific Ocean near Crescent City, California. A major focus along the trail is conifer diversity, passing 32 species. The route crosses six wilderness areas, one National Park, and one State Park. Northwest Californias Klamath Mountains foster one of the most diverse temperate coniferous forests on Earth and this route is a celebration of that biodiversity. Learn more:


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