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COUNTY: Gilmer County
LOCATION DETAILS: The section of the BMT that crosses Highway 515 in Gilmer County, GA. The side we took was the gravel road side which heads south towards Springer Mountain.
NEAREST TOWN: Blue Ridge
NEAREST ROAD: Highway 515
OBSERVED: My girlfriend and I were on vacation in Blue Ridge, GA. We went hiking the day before and the ground was frozen solid from the weather. The following day we went hiking and it rained the night before. It was very cloudy all day and still pretty cold but the ground was thawing out. We decided to hike the Benton-MacKaye Trail off Highway 515. We started at 8:45 a.m. and followed the trail around to an open field and decided to take a quick break. While on the break, I yelled as loud as I could twice and the echo was impressive. We continued following the trail for another 1 1/2 hours until we decided to head back. On the way back around the field, we noticed a huge footprint. It was obvious it was a footprint because you could see the toes in the clay. The clay wasn't hard nor was it wet and slick. We passed it on the way and had no walking troubles or saw the print. There were footprints around other than ours, however, we didn't see anybody from the start of the trailhead and throughout the hike. We looked around for more and discovered 4-5 more tracks the same size, others that looked similar but less defined. It was a very deep print, looked to have 4 toes. It seemed to be walking down the hill towards the creek.
ALSO NOTICED: We heard a loud noise up a small ridge ahead of us as we were looking at the prints. Might of been a rotting tree falling as those were everywhere.
OTHER WITNESSES: 2. We were walking the trail back to our vehicle.
OTHER STORIES: The infamous Blue Ridge video I saw on YouTube, as far as I know.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: It was between 2-3 p.m. It was very cloudy with small periods (15-20 min) of sun. It was windy and wet.
ENVIRONMENT: On the BMT that runs parallel to private property. There was an open field on both sides of the trail, one side being fenced and the other not. The footprints were seen just a few hundred yards from the creek in that area.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator David Bakara:
I spoke with the witness by phone, and he seemed honest and sincere. The Benton MacKaye Trail is a nearly 300 mile footpath that winds through scattered homesteads, farms, and rambling creeks. It used to merge with an original portion of the Appalachian Trail before it was shortened in 1957. With the witness' excellent description of the area, and as I only live
a few minutes from the trailhead, I was able to find the exact spot. The prints were still visible after 5 days, though 3 were partially in vegetation and wouldn't cast good. I decided to cast the third of the total of 4. The strides were roughly 32", 37", 41"
and 46", as I could not make out the full, exact, print size of the rest. The maker was headed down hill. The clay was on the trail between two large fields. There were boot prints about the area, but the footprints in question were just off center in softer red clay where a hiker would avoid. We could see only 4 toes in all prints where any were visible. The witness stated that while he and his girlfriend were examining the prints, a loud crash was heard up on the ridge overlooking them. He said it could have been a rotten tree falling. The witness made a "whoop" to see if he could get any response, but they heard nothing else. I've included pictures of the footprint cast:
About BFRO Investigator David Bakara:
David has three daughters and a wife that shares his interest in research, both having developed a deep respect for nature and knowledge of the outdoors and wildlife. Attended Northern Florida Expedition 2011, 2012 Washington Exp., and 2012 North Florida exp. Prior US Navy and currently works as a Leasing Agent, spending his time off in the woods as often as he can investigating Bigfoot reports.