Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Look for Bigfoot while hiking Minnesota trail

Dago Lake Day-Use Area, General C.C. Andrews
State Forest, Minnesota; photo courtesy Minnesota DNR

Area near Willow River
a hotspot for sightings

Does the legendary Bigfoot stalk Minnesota’s Northwoods? Your best bet for spotting one might be a hike through General C.C. Andrews State Forest, an epicenter of Sasquatch sightings since the 1970s.

With more than 7700 acres of jack and red pine woodland, the state forest near Willow River marks the perfect place for Bigfoot to hide. A 1.6-mile round trip trail is roughly equidistant to several major sightings over the years.

Albino Bigfoot?
To reach the state forest, from Interstate 35 take Exit 209, heading east on Laketown Road/County Road 46E. The road curves around Sturgeon Lake. On the lake’s south side, turn right/south onto Pumpkin Seed Road, which angles west. Upon coming to State Forest Road 340E, go left/south onto it. Take the very next right, heading west into the state forest. You’ll pass four more road junctions; at the last of these, turn right/north into the Dago Lake Day-Use Area and park in the gravel lot at road’s end.

Hike back to the gravel road from which you turned to find the parking lot. Go left/east on the road, and in about 300 feet, take the (unnamed) sand ATV trail heading southeast. This pathway heads through a wooded area of gently rolling terrain and sandy soil.

Bigfoot sightings in the area date to August 1972 when a witness reported two white creatures – one nine feet tall, the other seven feet – in an open field just south of the state forest. The witness said the two creatures froze mid-stride like deer caught in headlight glare. During that time period, reports of a white Bigfoot were filed across the region from Duluth to Webster, Wis.

Strange vocalizations
More recently in February 2007 on a gravel road south of Sturgeon Lake, immediately east of the state forest, a driver spotted a large black, human-shaped figure in the middle of the road. The creature was so tall that it appeared like a large person from a quarter mile away.

Later that summer, several residents living south of Sturgeon Lake were awakened in the middle of the morning by strange vocalizations. One man who heard the screams later said it sounded exactly like the famous recording of a whoop-howl allegedly made by a Bigfoot in 1973 near Puyallup, Washington.

Other Sasquatch sightings have been made north of the state forest near Moose Lake.

Presuming you don’t spot one of the giant hominids and run in terror, in about 0.8 miles from the parking lot the trail reaches Willow River North Road, which runs north and south and marks the state forest’s boundary. At the road, turn back for your vehicle.

Read more about day hiking Northeast Minnesota in my Headin’ to the Cabin: Day Hiking Trails of Northeast Minnesota guidebook.