Searching for Bigfoot on Collings Mountain

On a dreary but warm day in January, we skipped the ski slopes to brave a wintery hike skirting Applegate Lake near Ruch, Oregon. Our destination? A bona fide Bigfoot trap. Located along the Collings Mountain trail in the Rogue River National Forest, the trap is located on a low rise one-half mile into the hike, off a short spur trail (next to a long-destroyed caretakers’s cabin). The only one of its kind in the world, it resembles a huge wooden box with trap door, now securely bolted open.

collings trailhead

The trap was built by ‘researchers’ in 1973 to aid in the capture a Sasquatch, reportedly seen in this area since the 1890s, and was definitely a bit of a thrill to see! The brush is heavy here with madrone, sagebrush, and scrub pine, and with the low-hanging fog tendrils persistent in winter, it was also a bit eerie! Either way, it was by far the coolest thing my kids have hiked into the forest to see.

bigfoot trap

The fun doesn’t have to end at the trap, however. Another .3 miles further along the main trail, you’ll find the remains of a spectator’s tunnel dug out of the side of the mountain slope. The tunnel is constructed in a short ‘U’ shape (though as my seven-year-old noted, ‘probably too small for Bigfoot to fit into’). If you want to keep your round trip hike under two miles, reverse your course here, returning the way you came. If you’re still game, however, continuing on takes you up a ridge to a summit with a nice overlook of the lake and valley below. We went this far (about 1.5 miles total), and turned around, making our total hike approximately 3 miles. Should you want to make a day of it, however, you can complete a loop instead; the trail continues another 2.9 miles past the summit to Watkins Campground, where you’ll need to hike another 3.5 miles along the paved road back to your car.

spectator's tunnel

Date last visited: January 2, 2012

Distance from the interstate: Approximately 40 minutes from I-5 in Central Point, Oregon, and 10 minutes from Highway 238 in Jacksonville.

Hours of operation: The hike is accessible year round.

Admission cost: None.

Dining options: None, but the Bigfoot site makes for a perfect picnic location!

Directions: From I-5, take the Central Point (from the north) or Phoenix (from the south) exit and follow signage to Jacksonville. Once on Highway 238 in Jacksonville, continue to Ruch, then take Upper Applegate 15 miles to Applegate Lake. Go one mile past the dam. The trailhead is located across the road from Hart-Tish park and boat ramp.