Many people seek out hiking trails that show off a slice of an untouched landscape. The densely-packed forests and clear streams seem like a different universe from the concrete jungle and the unnatural uniformity of many a suburb. A hike can symbolize solitude, freedom, and simplicity. Or, in the case of these haunted trails, they can mean violence, death, and terror.
It’s no wonder that there is a multitude of hiking trails out there that are believed to be haunted. From cave hospitals to an abandoned railroad tunnel to the grounds of an old insane asylum, this is the list of some of the most haunted hiking trails in the country. They give new meaning to the expression “you’ll never walk alone”.
1. Bash Bish Falls
Mount Washington, Massachusetts
Bash Bish Falls is known for two things: for having the highest waterfall in Massachusetts and for being haunted by a Mohican woman. Legend has it that Bish Bash was accused of adultery and was sentenced to death. The Native Americans in her village were supposed to tie Bish Bash to a canoe and let it drop down the 60-foot falls to kill her. But, on the morning of her execution, a cloud of butterflies appeared. They surrounded her, giving her time to escape. She jumped in the falls and was never seen again.
Bish Bash had a daughter, White Swan, who married after her mother’s death – or disappearance. She was infertile, so her husband took another wife who could have children. Heartbroken, she started to have visions of her mother. Summoned by Bish Bash, White Swan too jumped into the falls. Her body was never seen again.
Today, visitors of the fall claim to see the outlines of a woman standing behind the water. Bish Bash is also one of the most dangerous trails in the United States, with over 25 people dying in falls while hiking. It’s no surprise that there may be spirits lurking nearby.
2. Gates of Hell
Empire Mine Road is isolated as it gets, so the gate on the side of the road is a sight creepy enough to get your heart racing all on its own. The metal barricade was placed on the road to prevent cars from going any further. Those who dare to go near it should not stop by it or pass through it.
Related: 5 Gateways to Hell
It is rumored that the area behind the gates used to have an insane asylum where lobotomies and shock treatments took place. The spirits of those who suffered there are said to haunt the gate. The grounds also used to have a slaughterhouse; some believe that the spirits of the animals killed there also haunt the gate.
3. Murphy Ranch
Pacific Palisades, California
The Murphy Ranch is an abandoned Nazi camp in the wealthy suburban California area. Yes, you read that right. A wealthy couple was convinced by a German man to create a compound for Nazi supporters to live in once Germany won World War II. The couple, who were Nazi sympathizers and white supremacists, were apparently fairly easy to convince. The German claimed that the American government would inevitably fall once the German forces were victorious, which would lead to a period of intense anarchy. The couple invested around $4 million at the time, and they built far more than just a simple home.
The compound had a machine shed, power station, gardens, and an irrigation system that would be capable of growing enough food to sustain German troops. Though some of the buildings were knocked down for safety reasons, a few remain and are enough to send chills down your spine once you think about what the place could have been had the Germans won the war. The remaining structures on the compound are covered in graffiti, but are around for visitors to explore – if they dare.
4. Iron Goat Trail
Stevens Pass, Washington
In 1910, an avalanche knocked two trains off their tracks along the Iron Goat Trail, killing almost 100 people in one of the deadliest railroad disasters in American history. The tunnel was abandoned after the now-used Cascade tunnel was constructed, so people can now walk through the area where the people died.
The trail is nearly 6 miles long, but fans of the paranormal will find it worth the trek. Hikers have claimed to be able to hear the screams of victims and the sound of the train derailing.
5. Bloody Lane Trail
If the name doesn’t give you a foreboding sense of the haunted nature of this trail, then its backstory will. The nearly two-mile trail goes through the Civil War battle site of Antietam. Antietam was the bloodiest battle in the Civil War: Nearly 23,000 people died, were wounded, or went missing in action there. The trail itself is sunken, which gave the Confederate Army limited protection for the beginning of the battle. Soldiers fought on the trail for nearly four continuous hours. Those who survived claimed that so much blood flowed through it it looked like a river. The name “Bloody Lane” was coined and has stuck ever since.
After the battle ended, nearly all of the dead were placed in the sunken lane, left there until their burials. Those who dare to walk along the trail have claimed to smell gunpowder, hear screams, and see silhouettes of the dead.
6. Long Path
Letchworth Village, New York
In 1911, a mental institution was built on the grounds that eventually became part of New York and New Jersey’s Long Path. When patients ( mostly children) died, their burial sites were marked by T-shaped markers instead of gravestones, which you can still see today. Numbers marked the graves instead of the names of the dead. The institution was notoriously overcrowded, a contributing factor to the deaths of many who went there. The children there were also subjected to various experiments.
Those who have walked along the path have claim to see the ghosts of children who died at the institution. Some alleged that they saw actual dead bodies, and others have heard noises they described as unnatural.
7. Ghost House Trail
Big Ridge State Park, Tennessee
Considered the most haunted trail in Tennessee, Ghost House is a mile-long loop that has a complicated backstory. One famous story is that of Mary Hutchinson, a young girl who lived on the land but tragically died from tuberculosis in the 1800s. Hikers have said that they can hear Mary’s beloved dog panting, snarling, and barking. Legend also tells of a settler named Peter Graves, who was scalped in the woods along the trail. His spirit lingers in the area to this day.
However, the most frequently encountered ghost is Maston Hutchinson, Mary’s father. You’ll see Maston’s grave in Norton Cemetery, near the start of the track. Maston is seen either in his Confederate uniform or a flannel work shirt and sometimes appears in photos. Some visitors have even reported feeling a bony hand wrap around their ankles...
8. Mount Chocorua
Albany, New Hampshire
Many creepy things have happened in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and the summit Mount Chocorua is no exception. The legend of the mountain is that a Native American chief named Chocorua lived at its base when white settlers came to the area. He was friendly with a settling family, the Campbells, and Chocorua left his son with them when he was called away somewhere else. When he returned, his son was dead. He had consumed poison that Mr. Campbell was using to kill foxes near his farm, but Chocorua vowed to get revenge on the family. Mr. Campbell came back to his house one day and discovered that his wife and kids had been brutally killed.
Campbell followed Chocorua up the mountain. He shot Chocorua with a rifle, who was wounded. Chocorua cursed the white settlers and then jumped off the mountain top to his death. Any deaths or strange occurrences that have happened in the area since are said to be because of the curse of Chocorua.
9. Dogtown Common
Dogtown, now a ghost town, was settled in 1693. Its name allegedly came from local dogs that protected the women of the town while their husbands fought in the American Revolution. The area was abandoned, but not before supposedly becoming settled by witches. The once open area is now a dense forest.
Hikers can see the remnants of cellar holes from the town and the Babson Boulders. The Babson Boulders were commissioned by Roger Babson (the founder of Babson College) during the Great Depression. He paid unemployed stonecutters to write inspirational messages on the boulders. Unfortunately, those messages now look ominous and downright creepy. Hikers will likely encounter a few of these boulders among the overgrown land, and if you don’t know the backstory, you might be tempted to run.
10. Devil's Den
Another Civil War battle site, Devil’s Den is a ridge that many Civil War soldiers used as sniping grounds. Visitors can walk through the sniper area, where so many men lost their lives. Those who walk through have said that invisible hands played with their cameras. Sometimes, camera batteries go dead. The people who are able to get pictures have seen blurry outlines of figures in soldiers’ uniforms.
11. White Sands National Monument
White Sands, New Mexico
The ghost who haunts the White Sands area is one half of a couple separated by war and death. Hernando de Luna left Mexico City and his fiancé, Mañuela, to go with explorer Francisco Coronado to modern New Mexico in 1540.
When Hernando and Coronado were attacked by Apaches on the edge of the White Sands, Hernando died. Hernando was buried somewhere along the expedition’s path. When Mañuela heard, she set out from Mexico City to look for her beloved’s grave. She was last seen just north of modern El Paso, Texas. People who walk through the White Sands Monument claim to have seen the ghost of Mañuela, now known as Pavla Blanca, there. She wears her wedding dress and is still looking for the body of her beloved.
12. Mammoth Cave
The cave is appropriately named, as it is one of the largest in the world. Mammoth Cave is also considered to be the most haunted natural wonder in the world – there have been over 150 documented paranormal events. Many of these were even reported by scientists and park rangers. Because there are so many passageways and hidden nooks when you go inside, you can be sure that you have no idea what lays ahead in the rest of the cave. The cave has existed for over 12,000 years, and historians believe that it was initially used as a burial site because they found actual mummies in the cave.
In 1839, a doctor purchased the cave for $10,000. He wanted to build a hospital in it because he believed that the temperature of the cave was conducive to curing tuberculosis. He built 11 huts inside Mammoth, and patients moved in for care. Many died; ironically, even the doctor succumbed to the disease in 1849. Visitors can see the remnants of these huts, and the huge rock that the dead bodies were put on. Many believe that the victims’ spirits and those of the mummies are trapped in the cave. You’ll have to venture inside to find out if it’s true...