On the Trail of the Elusive Bigfoot
Search for the mythical beast at these three Ohio State Parks
Bigfoot. Is there a mythical creature with a stronger hold on the popular imagination than this ape-like beast? Whether the product of folklore, misidentification, or hoax, this large, hairy humanoid — also known as Sasquatch — continues to fascinate believers and attract countless “spotters” around the country.
One popular place for reported sightings is Ohio, which ranks in the top five states nationally. Many of those eyewitness accounts come from visitors and rangers at Ohio State Parks. In fact, three Ohio State Park Lodges are in the center of that activity, making them convenient home bases for Bigfoot enthusiasts who want to join in organized events and hikes or just head out on their own in search of the elusive creature.
Punderson State Park
Punderson State Park in rural northeast Ohio has a number of documented sightings. In the heart of the woods is Punderson Manor State Park Lodge with homey rooms, cabins, and old manor-style lodging available for those on the hunt for Sasquatch in the region.
Mohican State Park
Mohican State Park in Central Ohio has seen an increase in Bigfoot sightings since 2010, particularly in the woods near Big Lyons Falls. There are occasional Bigfoot hikes that draw more than 500 people. Nearby Mohican State Park Lodge is centrally located among the spots of documented sightings. The lodge provides easy access to hiking trails that run throughout the 1,000-acre state park.
Salt Fork State Park
Perhaps the most noted Bigfoot location in Ohio is in the dense forest cover in Ohio’s largest state park at Salt Fork. Located in Southeastern Ohio, Salt Fork State Park Lodge is ground zero for Bigfoot enthusiasts. One reason for the attention is that Sasquatch has long been rumored to live in Salt Fork State Park. There have been more than 30 documented sightings since the 1970s.
The park’s rolling landscape, plush with hickory and oak trees that surround a nearly 3,000-acre lake, is the backdrop for the annual Ohio Bigfoot Conference, held in May each year. It is the world’s longest running Bigfoot conference attracting more than 3,000 participants from as far away as Australia. The Bigfoot enthusiasts and researchers who attend share stories, compare scientific discoveries — and, of course, search for the hairy beast.
Salt Fork State Park Lodge is the home base for those who want to stay in the middle of the wooded grounds. Each lodge room has a patio or balcony for a constant view of the woods. Cabins are also located on site.
Creature Weekend, scheduled for Oct. 20-22 in 2017, is another themed event at the lodge that Bigfoot hunters attend. It centers on cryptozoology, which is the study of hidden animals, including Sasquatch.
In addition, Salt Fork hosts other opportunities throughout the year focused on the legend that makes this region famous. Join in a Bigfoot Adventure Weekend, a three-night campout with workshops, demonstrations, and hikes, or take a monthly Bigfoot Night Hike in the park with Bigfoot experts who are familiar with the landscape and reported sightings.
To tackle your own search during your stay, pick up a Bigfoot Hikes map from the lodge’s front desk, and follow the trails where there are documented sightings. Take a hike on the Bigfoot Ridge, Morgan’s Knob, or the Buckeye Trail, which have some of the most notable Sasquatch activity.
Whether you believe or not, the Legend of Bigfoot is alive in Ohio, allowing you to be a part of the phenomenon at whatever level you choose. And, you never know, you just might spot the mysterious beast yourself during your stay.
How to Explore
Salt Fork, Mohican, and Punderson Manor are part of the five lakeside lodges of the Ohio State Parks, which offer a variety of accommodation types, ranging from standard and bunk/loft rooms to two- and four-bedroom cabins. Besides hiking, they offer indoor/outdoor pools, golf, boating, full-service dining, and more.
Written by: Anietra Hamper