October is the perfect time to head outside and hit the trail. Crisp fall days and vibrant warm colors make favorite trails feel even more inviting.
But with Halloween around the corner, it’s hard to ignore the spooky feelings in the air. Ghosts, spirits, and haunting stories are everywhere.
For some people, haunted tales are a definite no-go. Spooky stories might have them spending the rest of the day hidden under their covers. For others, spooky tales make the season come alive.
If you dare, spend some time on a haunted hike this season. At the very least, you’ll get a healthy dose of gorgeous fall scenery. And if you’re lucky - or unlucky, depending on your perspective - you might even catch a glimpse of something truly spooky.
Grab your flashlight, because here are seven haunted trails for Halloween and the spooky season that are sure to scare your socks off.
While plenty of national parks boast spooky tales and haunted legends, Yosemite National Park/strong> takes the cake in that department. Yosemite’s Indigenous Miwok people believe that the area’s waterfalls are haunted by a spirit wind, called Pohono, that pushes people over waterfalls after luring them to the edge.
There are a lot of waterfalls in Yosemite, but there’s one in particular that’s known for dangerous spirits.
The Chilnualna Trail in the Wawona area of Yosemite National Park, leads hikers up a steep, relatively deserted path to these impressive falls. Legend has it that a boy once fell and drowned in the pool at the bottom of Chilnualna Falls. Hikers have claimed to hear the calls of the drowning child. But visitors should beware: Those who try to help the drowned spirit are said to succumb to the same fate.
Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim sees very few visitors compared to the bustling South Rim, so it’s already a quieter, more isolated place. But those who do visit have the chance to experience one of the park’s most haunted trails and the apparition who apparently haunts it.
The Transept Trail hugs the edge of The Transept, a side canyon along Grand Canyon’s North Rim. The story goes that shortly after the Grand Canyon Lodge was built here in 1928, a woman’s husband and son set off on a hike down the Transept Trail, never to return.
After a frenzied and unsuccessful search, the “Wailing Woman” ended her life. In 1932, the lodge burned down. People reported seeing the Wailing Woman’s face in the flames. Today, hikers report sightings of the ghost - dressed in a white dress dotted with flowers - and sounds of her cries along the fateful Transept Trail.
This easy hike in Washington’s beautiful Central Cascades has a surprisingly dark history. It’s a beautiful and fun hike - if you can forget about its haunted past.
The Iron Goat Trail follows the old Great Northern Railroad route, built in the late 1800s. Disaster struck in 1910, when unrelenting blizzards trapped a train near Stevens Pass on its way from Spokane to Seattle.
Unable to clear the tracks, the workers and passengers in the Spokane Express were stranded on the mountainside for several days. On March 1, 1910, an avalanche crashed down the mountain and sent the train tumbling into the canyon below. Almost 100 people died, making this one of the worst railroad disasters in U.S. history.
Today, you can hike the Iron Goat Trail, named for the Great Northern Railway’s mountain goat symbol. You’ll pass by crumbling old rail tunnels and the site of the haunting accident on this spooky, 6-mile hike.
A popular hike on the island of Oahu, Manoa Falls Trail leads hikers to an impressive waterfall on the outskirts of Honolulu. This gentle trail winds through lush and gorgeous Hawaiian scenery - but that’s not all there is to see on this haunted trail.
According to local lore, the trail to Manoa Falls is often visited by Night Marchers - ghosts of spirit warriors often seen marching to the rhythm of drums. As the name suggests, most encounters with the Night Marchers take place after dark. While they supposedly appear in different locations across Oahu, they’re known to frequent Manoa Falls.
If you happen to witness the Night Marchers on a hike to Manoa Falls, you might hear the sound of a conch and the steady beat of a drum. Locals say to avert your eyes and play dead - otherwise, you might get in trouble with these ancient spirits.
The nearly 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail has more stories, legends, and spooky tales than perhaps any other trail in the country. With the millions of people who hike a portion of it each year, there’s no shortage of haunted tales from the trail.
But one story, from Bluff Mountain, Virginia, stands out as particularly spine-tingling.
In the late 1800s, a four-year-old boy named Ottie Powell went missing near Bluff Mountain. His teacher had sent all of the students out to recess with directions to collect firewood so they could heat the schoolhouse. Ottie didn’t return with the other kids, and the search for the little boy began.
His body was found - no less than five months later - on top of Bluff Mountain, several miles from where he went missing. No one knows for sure what happened. But more than one hundred years after this untimely death, hikers report eerie feelings, cries, and even the silhouette of the little boy on top of Bluff Mountain.
The Greenleaf Hut is an idyllic mountain cabin along the Old Bridle Path Trail at the base of Mount Lafayette in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Trails leading through the wooded wilderness and up granite peaks make this hut an unbeatable basecamp for exploring the area - but only if you’re willing to bunk with a ghost.
Legend has it that the ghost of a previous hutmaster resides in the cabin.
The haunting began when Ben Campbell, an enthusiastic hiker and the Greenleaf hutmaster, didn’t return from a trip to Scotland. While his body never made it back to the White Mountains to fulfill his hutmaster duties, his spirit, apparently, did.
Campbell’s family placed a pair of his boots outside the hut - which, as many hikers have been quick to report - have a tendency to move on their own. Hikers also report hearing sounds of footsteps during the night.
AT hikers and others wanting to see the White Mountains can stay at the hut, but now they have to share with a restless spirit.
In lower Michigan’s northwest corner, the Village at Grand Traverse Commons welcomes locals looking for a bite to eat, unique shopping, or a peaceful stroll in nature. But it hasn’t always been this way, and there’s more happening here than initially meets the eye..
Grand Traverse Commons is home to the Old State Hospital, a stately old building opened in 1885 and also known as the Northern Michigan Asylum. The hospital closed in 1989, but the buildings - and the spirits within - remain.
The truly spooky activity takes place on the trails behind the hospital, in the woods of the Grand Traverse Commons Natural Area. A trail to the Hippie Tree leads hikers to a gnarled old willow that’s said to sit over a portal to the underworld. The tree is covered in paint. According to local legend, spirits from the old hospital haunt the Hippie Tree. The layers of paint are the work of local mystics, who would meditate under the tree and paint their visions onto its limbs.
Visitors over the decades have reported feeling a spiritual presence and hearing voices as they approached the tree. Though the hospital no longer houses patients, it seems its spirits still roam the woods around the Hippie Tree.
Which haunted hike is calling your name this Halloween season? Grab your gear - and a friend or two - and experience these thrilling trails for yourself.
Emily is a copywriter based in northern Michigan. She's happiest outdoors, whether she's hiking, skiing, paddling, or swimming. As a writer, she loves working with companies that inspire all people to get outside. When she's not writing or playing outdoors, you can find her cooking, reading, or hanging out with family and friends. Find more of her writing here.
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