Bigfoot: The Myth, the Mystery, and the (Actual?) Sightings

So, do you believe in Bigfoot?

For decades now, people around the world (but especially America) have been fascinated with the legend of bigfoot, or Sasquatch, or Yeti, or whatever you want to call it. We’ve all seen the photos of the furry, upright human-like creature. The question is: do you believe they’re real?

Big Foot / Matthew Moneymaker / Big Foot / Big Foot’s Footprint.
Source: Getty Images

And if so, how many are there? Where are they hiding and what are they doing? Reports of beastly footprints have been discovered as far as the Himalayas. Sure, no definitive proof exists… yet. But there have been some convincing sightings.

Washington Is Ranked No. 1

Since the United States is the country where most Bigfoot sightings have been reported, the states have been ranked according to number of sightings (Hawaii wasn’t included). As it turns out, Washington is number one. The last on the list? Rhode Island.

A picture of Washington’s Blue Mountain Big Foot sighting.
Photo by Paul Freeman

Second is California, third is Florida, and Ohio – ranked number four – seems to be a hotbed for Bigfoot encounters. (If you’re curious, the list was compiled by Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. They set out “to compile the number of credible sightings by state that were credited and maintained by researchers, archivists and investigators of Bigfoot.”)

Ohio Is a Bigfoot Hotbed

The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization listed a total of 315 sightings in Ohio, dating back to 1974. According to Ohio’s Country Journal, Bigfoot, known as “The Grassman,” is most likely to be spotted in the Appalachian foothills of Eastern Ohio.

An image of Big Foot at Salt Fork State in Ohio.
Source: YouTube

The most recent reports in Ohio came in July 2021 in Jefferson and Mahoning counties. Thanks to some missing chickens, “large footprints” of Bigfoot were spotted near Bloomingdale. A couple returning home claimed they saw Bigfoot “crossing their driveway” outside of Columbiana. But Ohio is only one state where people have become obsessed with locating the Yeti…

Kentucky’s Bigfoot Trackers

A group of people in Kentucky have been venturing into the forests on expeditions with one goal in mind: to locate the Sasquatch. And they’ve been doing it for decades with the Kentucky Bigfoot Research Organization.

Three men share their close encounter with Big Foot during an interview.
Source: Spectrum News

“More than a just a grunt. Now I did hear a kind of a sound first and that was a first thing it did,” Rodney Adams, one of the group’s members, said about his close call sighting of Bigfoot that, “I actually thought honestly it was people messing with me. So, it threw a stick, and I picked it up and threw it back. But when I did that, it let out a bloodcurdling yell. I mean it was loud.”

That Time at Red River Gorge

Adams and a couple of his friends spent the night at Red River Gorge back in 2004. He claims that the sounds grew so loud as they were setting up their tents that his hair blew back. When they started to make food before it got dark, “objects started coming in; the first one goes right over my head into the creek.”

An image of a footprint from Big Foot in the forest.
Source: YouTube

Fifteen minutes later, another object hit the ground and rolled up to his feet. It was something “pulled out of the ground” with mud on the bottom and a “kind of a mossy top, so I knew that it had been broken,” Adams recalled.

He Thought It Was a Prank

Adams admitted that he thought people were playing a prank on him, and he got annoyed. He yelled out, “Quit messing with us. This ain’t funny.” Ten minutes later they heard big low growls and saw something run down the hill. But it was dark and hard to see clearly.

A still of Adams during an interview.
Rodney Adams. Source: Wave 3

He tried to describe the sounds: “like a bull running into a bunch of sapling trees.” The creature was 40 to 50 feet away, but never came any closer. “I tried to hit it with a flashlight, I couldn’t see anything at all. I knew something was there,” Adams said.

Tall, Broad Shoulders and Dark Fur

Charles “Chuck” Gray, a former law enforcement officer, recalls two incidents. “Never did come at us. But whatever it was didn’t want us there,” he said. He described the Sasquatch as being about two feet taller than him; “Not extremely huge but real broad shoulders. Dark fur.”

A cast of Big Foot’s footprint is shown during an interview.
Source: Spectrum News

Along with Gray was Lexington native James Wilcox, who added that he saw a silhouette that was “more or less solid black, a little bit about an arm, you know, swing to it. Once it got behind the second tree, I never saw it again.”

Lots of Evidence, No Body

Many witness testimonies in Kentucky have been reported by investigator Charlie Raymond, the founder of the Kentucky Bigfoot Research Organization. “We go around looking for Bigfoot. We spread the word; we try to interview witnesses whenever we can,” Raymond stated.

Charlie Raymond speaks to visitors during a conference.
Charlie Raymond. Source: Kentucky New Era

Raymond believes that there’s a lot of evidence; there’s just no body yet. To him, Bigfoot is “a relic hominid that has not gone extinct.” He hopes to preserve and file bills that will help protect the very creature he’s been spending years looking for. He travels the state with fellow Bigfoot tracker Tom Shay.

The 2019 Daytime Sighting in Colorado

Raymond and his team have chased Bigfoot for years, documenting nearly 400 potential sightings. Other tracks, like the historic ones from Washington state, are only part of the Bigfoot tracking. “We all know that Bigfoot lives there,” Raymond said, “but Bigfoot lives here in Kentucky too.”

An image of a road sign that reads Big Foot Xing.
Source: Rocky Mountain Ride

In January 2021, The Gazette published a story about a daytime Bigfoot sighting that occurred in Summit County, Colorado in the summer of 2019. A hiker was taking a rest at about 11,000 feet altitude near a log cabin in the Mayflower Gulch. He spotted a large two-footed creature trying to scale a 20-foot wall that was covered in snow.

The Footprints Remained

The hiker, with two others, searched the area for the beast, but it disappeared. What they did find were enormous hand and footprints in the snow. The photos they took were then sent to investigator Scott Miles at the Bigfoot Field Research Organization (BFRO).

A video still of Big Foot in a forest.
Source: Charlotte Observer

According to Miles, the prints look authentic. “I believe that he saw exactly what he reported and was a witness to a Sasquatch, probably a young individual that accidentally (or naively) got caught in a compromising situation in the daytime in a fairly high-traffic area,” Miles stated.

The 2020 Hiking Incident

In September 2020, a sighting occurred in Shawnee, Ohio. A woman and her husband were hiking through Wayne National Forest and heard “wood-knocking” sounds. They didn’t think much of it since they’ve heard such sounds before in the area. At around 5 pm, they heard something bizarre.

A video still of Big Foot walking behind the trees.
Source: Fox 19

The couple heard a howling, roaring sound that terrified them. They turned around immediately and went home. That night, they looked online for information on animal noises from creatures native to Ohio; nothing resembled what they had just experienced.

The Ashland, Oregon Sighting

They waved it off. A week later, they went out for another hike, and this time they saw a large, dark, furry bipedal (two-footed) creature that rapidly ran over a ridge and disappeared.

An image of a Big Foot trap in Ashland trails.
Source: Ashland Trails

Oregon is another state where sightings come in the hundreds. As recently as April 2021, a 20-year-old woman from Ashland reported a sighting. She was walking out of the Warehouse 24-Hour Gym at about midnight, heading to her car in the well-lit parking lot. That’s when she heard a twig snap.

Couldn’t Have Been Human

The woman saw a creature about 30 yards away, which she described as seven or eight feet tall and covered in gray fur, racing back into the woods. But it couldn’t have been a human, she stated, seeing as how it was too large and moved too quickly.

A dated image of Big Foot in the forest.
Source: History Channel

Scared and in tears, she called her parents and asked them to come and drive her home. According to nationally acclaimed Big Foot investigator Matthew Moneymaker, this woman likely saw a Sasquatch. Moneymaker has made a name for himself as he has spent most of his life pursuing the creature.

Moneymaker Gets Involved

Moneymaker had his own TV show called Finding Bigfoot. The California resident, who founded the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization in 1995, spoke to the woman in Ashland before posting the incident as Report #69065 on his website.

A still from the show.
Source: YouTube

He planned to visit her in person and research the location of the sighting (at 1151 Commerce Parkway), but the woman’s friends and co-workers, who learned of her experience through the website, started to make light of her claim. Both she and her father asked for her name be removed from the website report. Moneymaker was sure to add that “This is not a hoax report.”

Noticing the Green Flags

While the woman chose to no longer participate, she still maintains what she saw and so do her parents. “She is a young woman and doesn’t want people who may be ignorant making fun of her. I believe her and I do think it happened,” he stated.

Moneymaker speaks on stage.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Moneymaker also said that the woman’s stories raised way more green flags than red ones. The woman’s father went to the site the morning after and found “lots of deer tracks in exposed patches of ground around that parcel of woods,” which are often hunted by the Sasquatch.

A “Class A” Rating

Moneymaker classified this particular sighting as a “Class A” rating, the highest on the three-tiered scale he established. The difference between the classifications (as stated on his website) “relates to the potential for misinterpretation of what was observed or heard.”

A dated image of the legendary Big Foot monster.
Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images

Class A reports “involve clear sightings in circumstances where misinterpretation or misidentification of other animals can be ruled out with greater confidence.” Also, according to his site, this encounter marks the sixth sighting in Ashland County, which goes back to 1943 when a man claimed he was picked up by Bigfoot as a child.

The Naysayers

Moneymaker has had his own face-to-face sighting in eastern Ohio back in the 1990s. But the Bigfoot fanatic is no fool – he is fully aware of the many skeptics who question the very existence of these “wood apes” and want to see real evidence.

Bigfoot researchers James Fay, Ranae Holland, Cliff Barackman, and Matt Moneymaker speak onstage.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

“I know it’s hard to accept they are real until you have your own face-to-face encounter,” Moneymaker shared. “People keep trying to fit them into the mold of another species.” But the problem, he explained, is that we think of them as humans, which they’re not. Night, by the way, is the most likely time to see one.

The Marble Mountain Encounter

In June 2011, a youth group was camping in California’s Marble Mountain Wilderness, and leader Jim Mills noticed a strange creature lurking along a ridge nearby. He filmed the thing for about seven minutes, making the grainy footage the longest video ever of a bigfoot sighting.

A still from the Marble Mountain Big Foot footage.
Source: YouTube

Marble Mountain is one of a few areas in which the Bigfoot Trail is located. The trail was originally proposed in 2009 by Michael Kauffmann as a suggested route to navigate the mountain region from south to north.

The Snowy Footprint on Mount Everest

British explorer Eric Earle Shipton took this photo while trekking up Mount Everest in 1951. According to him, this footprint belonged to a Yeti. Decades later, in 2014, the photo went up for auction in London and sold for close to $10,000.

A photo of the footprint on snow.
Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Some say the Yeti is different than Bigfoot while others claim the two belong to the same species. Shipton found this and other 13-inch footprints in the snow at 19,000 feet. With him was famed mountaineer Tom Bourdillon, who snapped the photos.

A Trail That Lasted a Mile

They sent the photos to a colleague of theirs named Mick with the caption: “Here are the footprint photos: sorry for the delay.” He further explained how they “came across them on a high pass on the Nepal-Tibet watershed during the 1951 Everest expedition.”

An image of the footprints found in the snow.
Photo by Indian Army/Twitter

Bourdillon said they followed the tracks for close to a mile. “What it is, I don’t know, but I am quite clear that it is no animal known to live in the Himalaya, & that it is big.” This incident came 25 years after a Royal Geographic Society photographer, N.A. Tombazi, reported a similar type of Bigfoot encounter – also on Mount Everest.

Then Sir Edmund Hillary Took a Swing at It

Despite the skepticism from many, famous explorer Sir Edmund Hillary — the first person to reach Mount Everest’s peak — launched an expedition to find the mythical creature two years after Shipton’s finding. He never ended up finding it, though.

A dated picture of Sir Edmund Hillary.
Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images

Thanks to Shipton’s photos, critics, paranormal investigators and academics have continued to marvel over Shipton’s photos for decades and debate whether or not they should be considered as promising evidence of a Bigfoot-like creature. But it was just the beginning of what would become a decades-long fascination with Bigfoot.

When “Bigfoot” Became the Term

Up until a 1958 article covering a curious set of enormous footprints, this creature was known as Sasquatch. Thanks to the article, the name “Bigfoot” became cemented in the American lexicon. But sightings have been reported across the United States since the late 1800s, nearing 23,000 encounters in total.

A video still of Big Foot walking in the forest.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle

These encounters include all kinds of things, from reports of 20th-century loggers to a video from 1967 that still gets debated to this day. What was it about this video that made people ponder Bigfoot’s existence so much?

The 1967 Sighting Caught on Film

It’s known as the Patterson-Gimlin film, and the minute-long video has been hotly debated as to whether it’s authentic or not. Whether it’s real or not, this film put Bigfoot on the map. Before it, there were only verbal (North American tribes) or written (American newspapers) reports.

A still from the film.
Source: YouTube

Thanks to Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin’s fated trip, Bigfoot was now seen on film. On October 20, 1967, the two men rode their horses through Bluff Creek, California. Patterson was the one obsessed with the mythical beast; he wrote books and was hoping to make films about it.

Bigfoot on 16mm

Gimlin, on the other hand, was just an old pal of his, who joined for support and – let’s face it – amusement. Around midday, as a strange smell filled the air, their horses suddenly kicked. That’s when they saw a furry creature wandering on two legs about 100 feet away.

Stills from the film.
Source: YouTube

They got off their horses and Patterson used his Kodak camera to film the sighting on 16 mm film. While some call it an elaborate prank, others – even esteemed researchers — consider it to be the most convincing Bigfoot evidence ever recorded.

Did He Fake It for the Money?

The fact that Patterson profited nicely from the short film made skeptics think he created it solely for the money. Either way, Patterson took his footage on a nationwide tour and charged admission to catch a peek. A year prior, he published a book on Bigfoot.

A picture of Bob Gimlin in a stable.
Photo by Gabriel Spitzer

A costume designer by the name of Phillip Morris claimed that he personally sold Patterson the furry costume seen in the film. There was also a man from Yakima, Washington, named Bob Heironimus who claimed that Patterson paid him to wear the costume.

Or Was It Too Precise to Be Fake?

As for the believers, an Idaho University professor, Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum, believed what he saw. In particular, the musculature and limb ratios seen in the footage are simply too precise to have been faked, especially for a recording from 1967.

A photo of Gimlin training horses.
Photo by Gabriel Spitzer

Gimlin, the buddy who came along for the ride, never wavered from any detail of the account. Nonetheless, the film established a new standard for how Bigfoot sightings were to be received moving forward. And of course, there were many to come…

Pennsylvania’s “Wild Man” Sightings

According to The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO), most of the reported sightings are from the West Coast, but Pennsylvania has had some intriguing encounters. The first one came from Lancaster back in 1858, at a time when there was a series of “wild man” sightings that resulted in nationwide coverage.

Big Foot crossing signs stand along a roadway at a park.
Photo by Thomas Jenkins

One article read: “A thing like a man, but hairy as a bear, has been seen by the people.” The newspaper continued its report: “It was very wild and strong. It was once seen in a pen, sucking the cows.”

The Johnstown Footprint

The newspaper continued: “And when discovered, it started as if about to fight, and then turned and fled, bounding like a deer. It walks upright and is supposed to be a wild man.” Sasquatch sightings have continued steadily in Pennsylvania ever since. In 1980, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a footprint was found that measured 17 and three-quarter inches and was seven and a half inches wide.

An image of a footprint.
Source: Pinterest

Even more threatening than the size was the fact that the print wasn’t discovered in a remote forest; it was found near someone’s home. This sighting occurred on August 26, 1980, when residents of Johnstown discovered the massive print in the mud. It appeared to a right foot and had six toes. The left footprint was eight feet away.

Strange Smell and Sounds

Whatever it was, it had a very long stride – an inhuman stride. Homeowners claimed there had been a strange smell in the area, too. They reported hearing weird noises the night before the footprint sighting. Both the smell and sounds have long been accepted as signs of Bigfoot.

A newspaper clipping of a man holding a mold of Big Foot’s footprint.
Source: Pinterest

The case was so bizarre and mysterious that it became newsworthy, leading the Associated Press to run a story on the incident. This particular sighting has never been solved nor has it ever been debunked as a prank.

US Forest Service Patrolman Finds Handprints and Footprints

Paul Freeman, a seasoned former US Forest Service patrolman and cryptozoologist, has been thoroughly questioned about his Bigfoot encounter that took place in 1982. Freeman knew his way around Washington state’s woodlands.

A still of Paul Freeman’s video.
Source: YouTube

It was in the Blue Mountains near Walla Walla that he claimed to have spotted massive hand and footprints. Since he didn’t have a camera on him, he decided to take plaster casts of the prints instead. Despite the naysayers, Washington State University’s Grover Krantz said they might just be the real deal.

Freeman’s Second Encounter

Krantz noted the dermal ridges and skin whorls in the casts. These were distinct anatomical details that made it unlikely for Freeman to have fabricated them. But that was Freeman’s first encounter. His second, more intriguing one, came over a decade later.

A still from the 1994 footage.
Source: YouTube

This time it was 1994, and while on a routine walk through the same area, Freeman encountered what appeared to be two Sasquatches tending to their young. And this time, he had a camera with him. It may be grainy and shaky, but it looks pretty real.

Is Freeman Full of It?

Still, skeptics have pointed out that Freeman has a history of being a self-made cryptozoologist, which is something that should not be ignored when deciphering the authenticity of the woodman’s claims.

A newspaper clipping of Paul Freeman.
Source: Pinterest

For others, however, Freeman’s video footage sits right next to the Patterson-Gimlin film recorded decades earlier. Aside from Freeman’s discovery, there have been estimates of between 50 and 75 Bigfoot tracks spotted in the Blue Mountains region alone between 1982 and 2000. Let’s continue on to more recent sightings…

Florida’s “Skunk Ape” Sightings

Florida’s Lettuce Lake Park has been reported as home to the “Skunk Ape,” as Floridians have been calling it. Just as it’s been referred to as a Yeti, a Sasquatch, and wild man, Bigfoot has also been called the “Skunk Ape.” Apparently, according to the wide range of sightings, there are different kinds of Bigfoots.

A still of the ape.
Source: YouTube

In Florida, for instance, the Skunk Ape enjoys the warm and humid climate and, it too has a putrid stench. The most convincing footage of the Skunk Ape was captured on January 3, 2015, in Tampa.

The Lettuce Park Encounter

At 1:00 p.m. on a canoe trip in Lettuce Lake Park, Matthew McKamey and his friend suddenly saw the so-called Skunk Ape. First, they heard a noise and rustling of tree branches nearby. McKamey immediately took out his phone to film whatever it was they were witnessing.

A still of the ape at night.
Source: Pinterest

At first, they thought it was an alligator or bear, but this wasn’t anything they’d seen before. “In that moment, I was looking at it and getting a little freaked out, especially once it started really moving,” said McKamey. “You could tell he was slapping the water and it looked like maybe he was grabbing something.”

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience

He was thinking in that moment, “Holy sh*t, what the hell is this?” Later, he realized that “there’s a good chance that we actually saw a Skunk Ape or Bigfoot or whatever you want to call it.” One thing he knew was that it wasn’t a bear. “It wasn’t human,” McKamey stated.

A view of the park during daytime.
Source: Pinterest

“It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To have been where we were, when we were, the likelihood of it happening again.” The encounter seemed to have traumatized the two guys as they agreed not to discuss it any further.

Officer Turned Bigfoot Expert

McKamey did say that he only stopped filming so they could get away from the area as soon as possible. He later sent the footage to former Oregon police officer Phil Poling, who left his career in law enforcement to run an investigative Bigfoot website.

A dated footage showing Big Foot in the forest.
Source: Pinterest

His site examines all available evidence about the creature. Regarding McKamey’s film, the creature certainly looked ape-like, threatening, and reacted instinctively to the sounds of the canoe oars hitting the water. “I came away from this with a distinct impression that I have no idea what it is,” Poling related.

When a Skeptic Becomes a Believer

North Carolina’s Uwharrie National Forest is high on the list of Bigfoot hotbeds. Enthusiasts like to meet at the Eldorado Outpost before making each trek to find the beast. Michael Greene, a former US Army tank commander and fraud investigator, was not one of these enthusiasts.

A still of Michael Greene during an interview.
Source: WLTX-TV

Everything changed, though, after some disturbing experiences in the mid-2000s that left Greene wondering if something really was out there. He camped out in Uwharrie’s 50,000-acre landscape all by himself one night, which in hindsight wasn’t his brightest idea. He heard something approach his tent…

Scared the Devil Out of Him

After hearing leaves rustling nearby, this thing came running toward him. “Two seconds later, it was right over my tent,” Greene recounted, mimicking the deafening roar he heard. “And that wasn’t nearly as loud as it. Scared the devil out of me, as you can imagine.”

Michael Greene is interviewed in the forest.
Source: WLTX-TV

Only two nights later, Greene was camped out again in the same forest, but this time with his friends. Again, he encountered the creature: a clumsy two-footed ape-like beast in the distance. The former military man knew to use his surroundings to calculate its size.

The Biggest Mistake He Made Was Not to Record It

“I guessed from the measurements comparing it with trees, it was seven and a half or eight feet tall and striding with that ponderous arm swing,” he said. He also said that not recording the incident was the “biggest mistake of my life, really.”

A portrait of Michael Greene.
Source: Pinterest

The prior skeptic was now convinced he was onto something, so he went back to the same area week after week, trying to capture what he had seen twice. He fitted his camp area with cameras, which included night vision and thermal equipment. All he had to do was wait patiently.

His Patience Paid Off

By 2009, his patience paid off. With his thermal imaging camera, he captured a creature stealing one of his planted candy bars. “I don’t care,” he said about what skeptics would say. “I know what I saw. I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m crazy.”

A still from Greene’s footage.
Source: YouTube

“But, by God, I’m gonna prove it one way or another. And, well, I just hope I can prove I’m right before I die.” One thing skeptic tend to bring up is the fact that no one’s ever seen a Bigfoot skeleton, meaning they don’t even exist. Greene’s argument: “How many skeletons of a mountain lion have you found? Nature takes care of things very quickly.”

The 400-Pound Beast Attack

This one go back to 1924 and it happened on Mount Saint Helens in Washington State. A group of prospectors reported that they stumbled upon a group of seven-foot-tall ape-men. The encounter was violent as these ape-men nearly killed them all with boulders.

An image from the ape-men in the forest.
Source: Oregonian Archive

Fred Beck, Gabe Lefever, John Peterson, Marion Smith and his son Roy recounted the incident to The Oregonian. About eight miles from Spirit Lake, four of these “gorilla men” started attacking them. The creatures were “covered with long, black hair,” and looked like they weighed around 400 pounds.

Revenge on the Human Intruders

The men told the newspaper how “their ears are about four inches long and stick straight up. They have four toes, short and stubby.” Beck fired his rifle at the ape-men and even managed to shoot one off a cliff. The group eventually settled down for the night.

An image of a newspaper that reads Fight with Big Apes Reported by Miners.
Source: Pinterest

They were awoken when their cabin started shaking. The ape men were slamming themselves against the walls; one tore a hole in the roof. “Many of the rocks fell through a hole in the roof,” the article noted. Two rocks struck Beck, “one of them rendering him unconscious for nearly two hours.”

It’s Now Called Ape Canyon

The group finally escaped their cabin at dawn, and as a group they decided not to tell anyone. Nonetheless, one of them talked, and eventually an investigation began into this violent encounter. The US Forest Service launched an inquest that year, but rangers J.H. Huffman and William Welch found nothing to corroborate the story.

A general view of Ape Canyon.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the end, the incident was deemed a prank, regardless of the fact that 14-inch footprints were found nearby. The gorge where this Bigfoot attack took place (or didn’t) is now called Ape Canyon.