Big Foot Scenic Byway
Big Foot Scenic Byway
Stagecoach Mural in Happy Camp, CA

Whitewater Mural in Happy Camp, CA

With its abundance of protected lands, the area provides exceptional wildlife viewing. Elk, deer, river otters, black bears, mink, bald eagles and peregrine falcons are among the animals sighted frequently in the dense forests. Outdoor enthusiasts find plenty to do along Bigfoot Scenic Byway, including whitewater rafting, mountain biking, and hiking.

Backpackers especially enjoy the easy access to Marble Mountains Wilderness, where they can hop onto the epic Pacific Crest Trail for a few months or spend a weekend trekking among the Marble Mountains' eighty-nine glacial lakes.

Though the drive can be made in a couple of hours its local legends, untrammeled natural spaces, and abundant recreation opportunities tempt travelers to alter vacation plans and stay a little longer.

This 18 foot statue of Bigfoot towers over the entrance of Bigfoot Scenic Byway. Created as a community project out of local scrap metal, this statue welcomes travelers to the area.

US Forest: Six Rivers National Forest, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forests, Klamath National Forest - California
Length: 89 miles / 143.2 km
Time to Allow: 2 hours

18 foot statue of Big Foot

Located among the deep green forests of northwestern California, Big Foot Scenic Byway takes you through the region boasting the most sightings of Big Foot of anywhere in the country.

Whether you catch a glimpse of the elusive creature or not, a trip down the route rewards you with impressive mountain ranges, wild rivers, and recreation opportunities around every bend.

Outdoor enthusiasts find activities both on and off the road, and kids in the backseat keep their faces pressed against the glass in hopes of adding their name to the lists of local sightings.

Beginning in Willow Creek (known as the "Gateway to Big Foot Country") and ending in Happy Camp, your trip provides an unforgettable experience in one of California's wildest portions.

Big Foot Scenic Byway's 89 miles travel through or pass near a variety of public lands, including several wilderness areas, two national recreation areas, and the Redwood National Park.

The small towns along the route are the perfect places to stretch your legs, learn more about local cultures, and stop in during one of the Sasquatch-related festivals held throughout the year.

With its abundance of protected lands, the area provides exceptional wildlife viewing. Elk, deer, river otters, black bears, mink, bald eagles and peregrine falcons are among the animals sighted frequently in the dense forests.

Outdoor enthusiasts find plenty to do along Big Foot Scenic Byway, including whitewater rafting, mountain biking, and hiking. Backpackers especially enjoy the easy access to Marble Mountains Wilderness, where they can hop onto the epic Pacific Crest Trail for a few months or spend a weekend trekking among the Marble Mountains' eighty-nine glacial lakes.

Though the drive can be made in a couple of hours its local legends, untrammeled natural spaces, and abundant recreation opportunities tempt travelers to alter vacation plans and stay a little longer.

A variety of visitors services can be found in the town of Happy Camp on the northern end of the byway, including whitewater guide services

Service Description

Camping For nearby campground reservations: · ReserveUSA.com (National Forest Campgrounds). · ReserveAmerica.com
(State and Federal Campgrounds).

Food Groceries are available in all the towns along the byway. Cafes, delis, or restaurants are in Willow Creek, Hoopa, Orleans, Happy Camp, and Seiad Valley.

Gasoline Gas can be purchased at Happy Camp, Hoopa, Orleans, and Seiad Valley.

Lodging Motels, cabins, or other lodging exists at Willow Creek, Hoopa, Orleans, Somes Bar, Happy Camp, and Hamburg.
 
Restrooms Public restrooms are available in the towns along the byway.

In the United States the creature is known as Big Foot or Sasquatch and is most often seen in the wooded areas of the northwest.

Eye-witnesses describe the creature as being 6 feet to12 feet tall, walking upright on two legs (bipedal), weighing 500-800 pounds and being covered in hair.

Map, Big Foot Scenic Byway

This guide assumes you are beginning your tour on Highway 96 in Happy Camp CA, then traveling west down Highway 96.

Ferry Point:
Mile marker 30.2

In the mid-1850's, a hotel, store, dance hall, school and ferry made up this small community.
The ferry was used by the original packers carrying supplies along the Kelsey Trail.
It wandered west to east from the coast going over the Marble Mountains to Scott Valley.

Numerous branches of the Kelsey Trail met at Ferry Point. One of the branches led directly to Happy Camp and was its main supply source prior to the Waldo Trail.

In 1857 the buildings and ferry were sold by Richard Humphreys (founder of Crescent City) to James Camp and John Titus

· Holding up pack trains had become a very profitable enterprise for highwaymen.
One trick used by a local packer to transport gold was to remove the thick padding from a saddle replacing it with gold so that thieves were fooled.

Ferry Point is a very large, rocky but popular put-in and launch site for rafters and fishermen.
As a campsite, it is very accessible but primitive

Independence:
Mile marker 28.5

Independence Mine was first located by Joe Biggs in1889. The mine was most profitable around 1925 and employed approximately 20 people housed in the bunkhouse presently visible across the river.
Mining continues to provide a living for owners Earl and Nida Johnson, who hope someday to return the Independence mine to its former glory.

This site offers a nice rest area for visitors seeking a patio-type picnic area with vault toilets. While enjoying your stay, you can be entertained by the flock of at least 200 cliff swallows that claim the bridge as a nest site.

On the southwest side of the bridge, easy access to the river is available for water sports.
On occasion, a herd of Roosevelt elk can be seen grazing across the river in the open meadow.

Coon Creek Picnic Area:  
Mile marker 24.5

Five miles west of Independence are a lovely waterfall, wading pool and picnic area right off the highway.

Across the highway is a view overlooking the mouth of Ukonom Creek, which was named for a Karuk Tribal leader? Rafters often pull out on the east side of the river to camp.

Many take the time to hike 3/4 of a mile up to Ukonom Falls. (Ukonom Falls is depicted on a mural painted by a local artist and can be seen in the center of Happy Camp.)
From the highway, you can see osprey, bald eagles and peregrine falcons as they soar or dive in search of prey.

Dillon Creek:
Mile marker 20.0

Original inhabitants include the Myers Family of Karuk decent (Dillon Jim Myers and Pichpee-naah-nich). This was the general area of the Dillon Mining Company which utilized many Chinese workers in the late 1800's.

The surrounding forest features Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, Madrone, Tan Oak (prized by the local Tribes for its sweet acorns and as a dietary staple), Pitcher Plant, California Lady's Slipper, Waldo Rockcress and a host of other plant species. The vegetation is abundant here due to high rainfall amounts and soil types.
 
The decomposing forest mulch is the food source for the Ponderosa (White Matsutaki) mushroom. In the fall, locals and commercial mushroom pickers hunt this delicacy, much of which is exported to Japan.

Enjoy this remotely wooded, sheltered campground while listening to the rush of Dillon Creek.
Open May through fall with 21 campsites, creek access, BBQ grills and water.

Ti Bar:
Mile marker 16.5

Ti Bar in Karuk language is Tíih.

For two months in 1987, Ti Bar Flat became a giant encampment... a city filled with several thousand rugged firefighters and support crews from all over the United States.

Ti Bar Flat offers a primitive and expansive picnic or camping experience for those who like rockhounding within a river

Roosevelt elk are the largest native land mammals in California and are likely to be seen browsing from here to Orleans. Be cautious, they are easily startled and not intimidated by vehicles. Elk can be dangerous.

The return of heavy rains in 1998 soaked the east canyon, resulting in a million yards of mountain sliding toward the Klamath and taking the highway with it.

The nearby Ti Bar Demonstration Project ongoing in this area is collaboration between the Karuk Natural Resources Department and the Forest Service.
 
Based on ancient Tribal forest management practices, this effort includes the use of cool burns (fire) to control brush and promote regrowth of fire-dependent plant communities.

Hickox Mine/Teneyck Creek:
Mile marker 2.2

Ten Eyck Placer Mine was a hydraulic mine, the largest in the area in 1881. This site (across the river) originally was owned by George Teneyck and boasted a post office in 1897.

The Ten Eyck mine was sold to Luther Hickox, Justice of the Peace/Lawman. He was said to have been "mean and a real tough character."
The mine became very profitable, allowing Luther to be the first in the area to own a motorized vehicle.
Though the roads were primitive at best, the family walked all the way to Somes where the car was parked, just to take a Sunday drive.
Luther's wife, Elizabeth Conrad Hickox, was one of the best Native American basket makers in the world

Her baskets now grace the Smithsonian Institute. She traded many of her magnificent creations for food and worn clothing that she gave to family and friends in need during the Depression.

In its heyday, the mine is said to have produced $10,000 in a week after the Depression.
 
Luther would gather the family into the car and go to San Francisco.
They stayed in the fanciest hotels and ate at the finest restaurants, blowing money until it was gone and then returned home to start all over again.

Somes Bar:
Mile marker 0.75

Services: Grocery, camping, RV park, cabin rentals, dining lodge, rafting and fishing guide services, pack trail rides, mountain biking

In Karuk language, this area was known as Ueeti-luk.
Ishi Pishi Falls can be viewed from the highway and is more whitewater than a " waterfalls ".
Rafters should be aware that Ishi Pishi is unrunable


Abraham Somes, with partner and friend, William Tripp, built the town in the early 1850s to supply miners in the area.

Somes Bar originally was located about a mile and a half up the Salmon River, but floods and fire over the years resulted in its relocation.
The Tripp and Conrad families still make up a large portion of the residents in the area today.

In the spring of 1851, miners flocked into the Salmon River area. They came poorly equipped and expected pack trains to supply their food.
A snow storm blocked all access and the men had to eat their mules and shoe leather to survive. This was known as "Salmon River Starvation Times

Junction School District was first established in 1892. This is a primary school- currently with two teachers, one of whom is the principal.

President Herbert Hoover had a hideaway cabin on Whooley Creek, His personal interest was partly responsiable for protecting the Marble Mountains as a Wilderness Area


The rugged steep mountains surrounding the area allow for only three hours of sunshine during winter.

Following Ishi Pishi road behind the store for a half mile will take you to a magnificent aerial view of the mouth of the Salmon River entering the Klamath

Osprey Sites:

Along the 180-mile length of the Klamath, many nests can be found that are built on top of sturdy trees overlooking the river.

The pioneers regarded the Osprey as a fish crow. Its diet is strictly live or injured fish, mainly the river suckers. The birds arrive in early April.

The Osprey fishes constantly, whereas the Bald Eagle is an opportunist, many times diving on the Osprey to steal its catch.

Orleans

Services: Forest Service District office, gas, restaurant, lodging, campgrounds, RV parks, post office, medical clinic, retail stores, guide service, Karuk Tribe

In Karuk, Orleans is Panámniik and roughly translates as "the flat place."

Captain Tompkins and Bob Williams explored the Klamath River in the spring of 1850 and named the place New Orleans Bar. They wrongly assumed the Klamath River would be navigable nearly all the way to its source.

The town improved as more miners moved into the area and Orleans prospered, becoming a main supply center. The historic hotel was also a payroll station for the military post and a stopping point for pack trains.

The place name "Red Cap" is for a Tribal leader who always wore a red woolen headpiece that had been given to him by a miner.
He was friendly to the whites, influential, and of high moral character. As an example of his justice, one story from 1851 describes the theft of a white man's gun, presumably by someone from Red Cap's Tribe.

To pay back the cost of the $30 gun, Red Cap imposed an excise tax of 50¢ on all salmon that were sold to the packers and miners. After the gun was paid for, the oppressive tax was dropped.
President Hoover spent much time staying at the local hotel as did many other famous people.

It was suggested to Hoover that Orleans become the "Western White House."
For birdwatchers, several pair of Red Shouldered Hawks has nests in this valley and their song can be easily heard.

The first Orleans Bridge was constructed in 1912. A discarded cigarette was believed to have caused the wooden bridge to be destroyed by fire in 1921.

Twenty brave men fought the fire from the burning bridge by lowering water buckets into the river. Suddenly the wire cables snapped, dumping the men into the river where one was killed.

The people of Orleans resorted to crossing the river in canoes again until the bridge was rebuilt.
This historic suspension bridge was the last of its type to be built in the nation.

This concludes our tour along the Big Foot Scenic Byway.

Big Foot Statue, Willow Creek, California
Big Foot Statue, Happy Camp, California
Big Foot Statue, Happy Camp, California

At Weitchpec, the byway begins heading northeast along the Klamath River.

This part of the route has the dubious distinction of having yielded the only loosely authenticated photographs of the man/ape creature known as Bigfoot.

Plaster casts of the creature's footprints were also made in this area in 1992



 

Willow Creek, was settled by Chinese laborers from the mining and lumber camps.

Considered the official "gateway to Bigfoot Country", the city boasts a wooden statue of Bigfoot at the Don Cave Memorial Park, and the Bigfoot Museum which traces the Highway 96 and the Trinity River, and cuts through the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation, which today encompasses over 144 square miles in the heart of the Hupa people's original homeland.

The reservation is home to the very first military fort in the area and the Hoopa Tribal Museum.

The museum displays a fine collection of Indian basketry, ceremonial regalia, and redwood canoes used by the local Hoopa, Yurok, and Karuk tribes.

In addition to the displays in the museum, tours of several culturally significant areas can be arranged by calling the museum at 530-625-4110.