This article about spine-tingling haunted trails is brought to you by our friends at Gregory packs. Whether you’re making a quick weekend trip or thru-hiking a mammoth trail, their backpacking packs will help you get there.
Your legs are tired and your feet are heavy. The snacks are running low. Perhaps the screech of a ghost train or the sight of a floating woman in a white dress will get you moving quicker on the trail.
Immersing ourselves in nature and engaging our bodies with activity encourages us to pay attention to the details; the way the air shifts suddenly—an unexpected chill, or the sound of a twig snapping in the distance. That deeper connection to the surrounding sights and sounds might be why hikers have reported strange happenings on these allegedly haunted trails.
These 5 Haunted Trails Are Sure to Thrill
You don’t have to wait until you’ve pitched your tent to enjoy the thrill of scary campfire stories.
Don’t worry if you get nervous—there’s lots of room in your pack for the little extras that make you feel safe and secure. Bring plenty of backpacking food like a delicious raspberry dessert for comfort, and take an extra bright flashlight in case anything goes bump in the woods.
1. Batona Trail in New Jersey
This 50-mile trail winds through the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. The Batona Trail connects the Wharton and Bass River State Forests. Hundreds of Jersey Devil sightings have been reported in the 1.1 million acre pine forest—the winged horse-headed demon has roamed the unique Pine Barrens for centuries.
The Pine Barrens are a vast coastal plain known for its sandy and nutrient-poor soil and frequent fires that support the pitch pines. This tree’s pine cones only open and spread their seeds after being heated by fire.
The forest is also home to a plethora of deserted towns to explore and plenty of waterways for paddling. The Dyrt camper Stephanie T. pitched her tent at the Lake Atsion campground in Wharton State Forest, a section of the Pine Barrens. She writes, “Beautiful pine trees, no sign of the Jersey Devil. Spent time at the Lake Atsion campground (which has showers) and kayaked to primitive backcountry sites. Really something for everyone”
2. Warm Springs Canyon Road in California
Don’t let the soothing sound of “Warm Springs” fool you. This 10.5 mile jeep track runs through the rugged and remote desert of Death Valley National Park. The route ends up at the now defunct Barker Ranch.
The ranch was the infamous hideout for Charles Manson and his “family.” In 1969, several members of the Manson cult burned a National Park Service tractor, which caught the attention of law enforcement. Shortly after, the ranch was raided and Manson, along with several others, were arrested for vandalism. This arrest lead to the members and Manson being charged for a string of gruesome murders.
Today, hikers are allowed to camp on the ranch grounds. Those who prefer to stay in a less spooky location can set up camp at Death Valley’s Wildrose Campground.
“Wildrose campground is removed from the more crowded spots, and it’s free! If you’re looking to hike Wildrose Peak or Telescope Peak, this campground puts near the base of both. It’s quiet and a little cooler than most of the park.” – The Dyrt camper Britany R.
3. Iron Goat Trail in Washington
This Pacific Northwest rail-to-trail offers a gentle grade and ADA accessible hike. However, it also has a sinister and historic past.
On March 1, 1910, two trains, including a passenger train, were stuck at the Wellington depot by layers of impassible snow on the track. The massive snowfall and steep mountainside were a recipe for disaster. Lightning struck the mountainside above the depot and triggered a massive avalanche. The depot, trains, and track were obliterated. The avalanche claimed 96 lives—the deadliest avalanche in U.S. history.
Hike along old tunnels and bridges as bits of twisted, rusted track and warped wreckage are slowly being taken over by vegetation. Hikers have reported screams and screeching sounds of metal near Wellington, which is now a ghost town.
For a more serene spot to lay your head, camp up the road at Nason Creek near the shores of Lake Wenatchee. This campground offers scenic views, lush forests, and plenty of outdoor recreation. Take a short drive to the nearby festive Bavarian town of Leavenworth.
“After camping here for the maximum two week period, I was absolutely in love. Being surrounded by the tall Washington trees and the distant sound of the babbling creek felt like a dream. An easy ten-minute walk led you to Lake Wenachee, the most amazing alpine lake with a great beach and camp store where you can rent kayaks, paddle boards, and get ice cream. The campground hosts were very friendly and there are flush toilets and running water as well.” — The Dyrt camper Amanda E.
4. Transept Trail in Utah
Although this out-and-back trail is considered dog and kid-friendly, it is also one of the most haunted trails in the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. Legend has it that a scorned woman in a white dress wanders the trail, weeping at the loss of her true love and children. Many hikers and rangers have reported hearing her sorrowful wails. Some have even reported seeing a dark-haired woman in a white dress with blue flowers floating along the trail.
If you don’t mind sharing your hike with ghostly characters, then venture down into the Grand Canyon to set up camp at Cottonwood. Many campers from The Dyrt found this North Rim campground to be less crowded than the popular Bright Angel campground near Phantom Ranch.
“The campground itself was comfy, with picnic tables, pit toilets, and potable water. It was very quiet, as I’m sure most hikers were more than ready to get a good night’s sleep before continuing their hike in the canyon…Only about 1% of visitors to the Grand Canyon ever sleep inside the canyon, and it’s a magical experience.” — The Dyrt campers The Switchback Kids
5. Ghost House Trail in Tennessee
This appropriately named haunted trail may be the spookiest of them all. It takes hikers past the remains of the Hutchinson family farm and cemetery. Hikers and rangers have reported sightings of Civil War soldiers, grisley ghostly figures of scalped settlers, and the eerie sight of a young woman who was hanged as a witch. Others have reported hearing an invisible panting dog running toward them and voices crying out from the abandoned Hutchinson home. Some hikers have even seen apparitions appear in photos. Make sure to pack extra camera batteries for your camera in your hiking pack.
The Ghost House Trail is located in Big Ridge State Park north of Knoxville. Camp in the park for easy access to ghost-free and haunted trails alike.
“It was fairly peaceful and quiet at night. There is a nearby swimming area…The history of the area is interesting, and the lake is quite peaceful.” — The Dyrt camper Christy E.