5 of the Most Haunted Hikes in the US
Spooky Treks to get you into the Halloween Spirit
Photo Credit: Spencer Selover
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It’s October. The air is crisp and cool, leaves are on the ground, and most importantly, Halloween is right around the corner. You may think that there aren't many outdoors-centric ways to celebrate the season but the truth is, creepy parks rumored to be haunted can be found all throughout the US. Many of these parks have creepy ghost stories attached to them, which you can learn about from park rangers or locals who know them best; while others just seem to have an overall vague eerie feel to them. People who visit these parks report feeling unsettled and even witnessing inexplicable things. If you’re brave enough, try witnessing these strange phenomena yourself - you might find something unbelievable.
Photo Credit: Johannes Plenio
Batona Trail - New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve, NJ
Batona Trail is a 50 mile trail located in the Pine Barrens, home to the legendary Jersey Devil. Because of this, this trail is one of the most famous haunted hikes in the world, with rich history surrounding the Pine Barrens as a whole. If you want to get a taste of the creepy forest and all its intricacies, this trail is perfect as it covers much of the park’s most beautiful sites, and crosses through three state forests. This trail passes by old, abandoned buildings and ruins from a 300-year old town, so you’ll get a feel for the origin of the folklore, and see the real place that was terrorized by the demon itself.
There have been many accounts of sightings of this creature and although it is rumored to wreak havoc on all areas of South Jersey, venturing into the heart of the forest will get you as intimate an adventure with the demon as you can get. Be sure to speak to locals while you’re here, who will be full of creepy stories concerning America’s only state demon.
Photo Credit: Dan Meyers
Hell Hollow - Pachaug State Forest, Connecticut
Pachaug is the largest State Forest in Connecticut, attracting hikers and campers alike from all over the state. However, an unsettling history has its roots within this gorgeous green space. Multiple visitors to the forest have reported the same thing: hearing blood-curdling screams from deep within the woods with no known origin. Many speculate that the screams originate from a Native American woman who was killed by British soldiers over 300 years ago.
This is not the only bit of haunted lore attached to the attraction, however, as one area of the park in particular - aptly named Hell Hollow Pond - is said to be the creepiest part of the entire forest. The lake is often covered with a gray fog that gives it kind of a Scooby-Doo effect, which is fitting as it is considered to be the most haunted area of Pachaug. Although some speculate that the Satanic name is actually derived from the area’s hellishly bad farming conditions, many visitors still feel a creepy presence - and many have even reported seeing a dark figure looming around the lake.
Employees at this State Forest deny the presence of ghosts here and insist on practical excuses for the alleged sightings, but this doesn’t stop hundreds of brave souls flocking to the park every year to see what they can find for themselves. Why not try for yourself?
Photo Credit: National Park Service
Mammoth Cave National Park - Cave City, Kentucky
Kentucky’s gorgeous Mammoth Cave National Park is the world’s longest known cave system. Extending over 400 miles, this National Park is a gem in the heart of western Kentucky. If trekking through dark caves doesn’t seem creepy enough for you though, you might be intrigued to know that this National Park is home to over 150 documented paranormal events. It’s no wonder the Travel Channel called this spot one of The Scariest Haunted Hiking Trails in the U.S., and it is often considered the “most haunted natural wonder in the world.”
What really gives Mammoth Cave this title is the history of people who have died within this cave system. In 1839, a doctor by the name of John Croghan purchased the cave for $10,000, believing the dark and moist conditions might be good for treating tuberculosis patients. He then took 15 patients as well as several enslaved people into the cave to begin experimental treatments. However, the wet and incredibly enclosed conditions of the caves caused the condition of the patients to worsen and in a matter of months, two patients died and all the other patients’ illnesses had escalated. Within a few years, Croghan himself died of tuberculosis as well. Visitors to Mammoth Cave National Park can still see remains of Dr. Croghan’s "consumptive cabins”, including a stone slab where bodies were stacked on top of each other - appropriately named Corpse Rock.
Clearly, the history of this location is absolutely chilling, and paranormal events only add to this. Another of the most famous stories involves a park ranger seeing a mysterious man appear and then disappear during a tour of the caves, wearing a miner’s uniform. Another tour guide working inside the caves claims that a woman saw a man holding a lantern and wearing the traditional clothing of slave guides. He then disappeared, and although some believe that this figure was actually an illusion created by shadows, others are not too sure as he was seen from every angle. Whatever you believe, Mammoth Cave National Park is widely known as the scariest of all National Parks - and visitors should beware, as it’s not for the faint of heart.
Photo Credit: Yoal Desurmont
Iron Goat Trail - Steven’s Pass, WA
Iron Goat Trail was the site of one of the worst railroad disasters in American history, when an avalanche caused two trains to run off the tracks - causing the deaths of almost 100 people. Today, you can hike through the scene of this incident via this 9-mile trail. The abandoned tunnels and snow sheds are still present so you’ll be able to feel as if you were there over 100 years ago, and signage around the trail will help you learn more about that fateful day as well as the people who built the railroad. Once you’ve gotten a sense of the trail’s history, you may start to feel a bit creeped out - and you wouldn’t be alone in that feeling!
Many visitors feel that the site is haunted, and some have reported hearing screams and voices both in and around the railroad tracks. Others report feeling invisible hands touching them as they walk along the railroad tracks. Still, the trail is gorgeous and an amazing scenic route to take if you’re looking for a creepy hike in the daytime - as the trail is closed at night. Some say this is to prevent hikers from getting into trouble at night... but others say that even park rangers are too scared to go onto the railroad tracks once the sun goes down.
Photo Credit: Maciek Wrona
Ghost House Trail - Big Ridge State Park, TN
This aptly named trail sits in the heart of Tennessee’s Big Ridge State Park, and was the site of alleged witch hangings and scalpings of Native Americans. However, Ghost House Trail officially got its name from the house of the Hutchinson family, who lived there in the 1800s. Here, the daughter Mary died of tuberculosis, and neighbors continued to hear screams coming from the house long after the family moved away. Others claim to have seen Mary’s dog, still walking around the park.
The house is currently in ruins so you won’t be able to walk through, but you’ll still be able to see the skeleton of the domicile. Before you even get to the house, you’ll pass several cemeteries where Civil War soldiers are buried - and many speculate on the existence of ghosts here as well. This gives the trail an instantly creepy vibe and will certainly get you into the Halloween spirit. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the Big Ridge employees who will be sure to have plenty of other creepy anecdotes as well!
Pathloom Intern Justine Imburgio majors in Secondary Education and English at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Look for more of Justine's writing in the Pathloom blog!
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