Hiking is something that should be calming, peaceful, and a valuable part of soul-searching. Then why is it that when we embark on some journeys, there's an eerie feeling soon to follow? There are thousands of hiking trails that span the entirety of the United States and you can find anything from tranquil spots that fill you with solitude to rough terrain that challenge even the fittest of athletes. Among these, you may also find a few trails in between that deliver a different type of emotion: Unease. It's believed that certain parts of nature are not meant to be graced by a human's presence and some just leave you with a suspicious edge that something is not quite right in the area. Others make you think twice about continuing on down the trail that sounded so minor prior to your stumbling upon it. Some of these trails might even hold echoes of the past that refuse to be let go.
No matter where you are in the Northern or Southern part of the continental US, there's a trail that holds somewhat of a sorted history. Whether there's an actual story (or in some cases, several) to match the creep-factor you get upon exploring or if it's just purely a figment of your imagination based on the condition of the trail and atmosphere, chances are, it's one you won't visit often. This is a guide of the most suspicious trails in the Nothern and Southern territories so the next time you begin your trek, you'll know exactly when to look over your shoulder...Don't say we didn't warn you.
20 North: Dogtown In Gloucester, Massachusetts
For starters, Massachusetts is home to plenty of ghost stories, many that would scare the heebie-jeebies out of the most seasoned of story-tellers. Dogtown bears its name due to a legend that the area was once inhabited by a plethora of feral dogs, all serving the purpose of protection and to do what they do best: Be man's best friend. Long after their owners ceased to be living -- or surviving -- on the land, these dogs were the last remaining sign of a village that was first settled in 1693, thus creating an eerie atmosphere full of dog howls and now-wild canines. This is where the name "Dogtown" was coined. Many settlements and centuries later, the town reflected the Great Depression in, shall we say, "unique" way. Hikers can observe 36 boulders inscribed with messages that were meant to be inspirational but are now just a spooky reminder of what once was, such as "Help Mother" and "If Work Stops Values Decay". Additionally, there are reports of a history of witchcraft in the area as well as animals who are not native to that land carrying out dastardly attacks on helpless wildlife. It's easy to become disoriented in this abandoned village, so tread lightly to avoid finding more of its dark history than intended.
19 South: Bloody Lane Trail in Maryland
Interestingly enough, Only In Your State considers this trail one of the "most haunted places in the state". Wartime tales are often filled with a victory, triumph, and their fair share of dedication and trial. However, when those stories take a turn for the worst, such as during the Battle of Antietam, the history they leave behind can shake you to your core. There has been plenty of suspicious activity noted in this area, also known as the "sunken road". Walking down Blood Lane is humbling simply because you'll be able to mentally and physically grasp what those final moments must have been like for the 23,000 soldiers who lost their lives that day. It's September 17th, 1862, was marked as the day that the bloodiest battle occurred on American soil during the Civil War. To this day, it's still open to hikers who dare to explore the history of this tragic battle as you walk down the path where thousands laid slain after fighting for their country.
18 North: Becket Land Trust And Historic Quarry In Becket, Massachusetts
If mining is the type of history that holds your interest, the Becket Land Trust should be on your map as a destination to explore. The Quarry holds a piece of mining history that dates back 200 years and holds the stories of people who went to work every day knowing how dangerous their job was. The quarry itself is abandoned but has been left alone so that nature could take its natural place in reclaiming its land. Amongst the various trails that span the land, hikers can find old equipment and stumble upon buildings that seem to echo voices of the past... Or is that just the wind picking up? Either way, it's fascinating, yet eerily unsettling.
17 South: Ghost House Trail in Tennessee
Any park that has a trail referred to as, "Dark Hollow Trail" (as sighted on the trail marker) is one you should probably be mentally preparing yourself for. Tennessee is home to plenty of wild things, including some stories that would scare the socks off any average hiker. The land itself holds more stories than a children's fable book, many of which have ended in tragedy. Although the grounds are stunning, especially during the changes in the seasons, it's tough to say whether going head to head with the lingering artifacts from many years ago is actually worth it. Hikers will also find a cemetery filled with crumbling stones of the Hutchinson family, who lost a young girl to tuberculosis many moons ago. Additionally, stories have circulated of a settler who was scalped by native people and a witch whose life was ended by her own father. There's no debate that these woods are suspicious, all you have to do is speak to the locals to know that only a crazy person would stay past sundown.
16 North: Freetown Fall-River State Forest In Assonet, Massachusetts
This forest has been referred to as one of the most mysterious places on earth, let alone in the Northeast. Freetown has earned its name as a true "haunted forest", and for good reason... Several good reasons, actually. The woods are not only out of the way but isolated, which has made it a prime spot for crimes as well as disturbing cult rituals, adding to the devilish history that this forest already boasts. The tales start as far back as 1659 when Native Americans and settlers fought for the acquisition of the land. That tribe, the Pocasset Wampanoag, had their own stories to tell; from a swamp that's home to both good and bad spirits to a rock outcropping that's said to be the embodiment of the chief's son, no good comes of staying on this land for very long. Apparitions are seen to stand just over the edge before seemingly falling, only for the witness to realize there's nothing at the bottom and was really never anyone standing at the top. The Bridgewater Triangle also comes out of this folklore, encompassing everything from UFO sightings (even one by Ronald Reagan) to mysterious creatures from Urban Legend that force passersby to run in terror. This location is a hotspot for all things mysterious and horrifying and definitely gives us the creeps, even the pictures add to the sinister past of this land.
15 South: Norton Creek Trail in North Carolina
The Smoky Mountains of North Carolina hold a rich history, rooted in several wars as entertaining stories from thru-hikers and landowners alike. This trail is set in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is also home to over 200 cemeteries. Hikers who take on this trail will note various homes that have been left and abandoned over the years, home to true mountain dwellers who lived and died by these lands. Additionally, the story of Spearfinger, born out of Cherokee folklore, speaks of a witch who bears one finger that she uses like a knife. The story goes that she would play the role of a kind woman to encourage children to sleep, then cut their livers out with surgical precision as a snack. This would make a great horror movie but really isn't something you want to think of when backpacking through this wilderness. Additionally, there is a tale of a benevolent apparition who helps lost hikers, as he is still seeking his own lost daughter in the woods... Perhaps ease your mind with this before setting off into these mountains.
14 North: Devil's Den In New Durham, New Hampshire
Not only is this trail rather treacherous for the inexperienced hiker, but it also comes with one solitary story that's mildly scary. The story of Devil's Den begins with two brothers who decided to explore the cave that's found along the trail (not unlike many hikers today) and in the process of determining how deep the cave goes, one brother fell into its depths. The remaining brother reported hearing hissing and, when he was finally able to pull the rope back up, his brother was no longer attached to it. Instead, he was left with a bloody clothing shred and a tire iron. Many have reported hearing hissing that seemingly comes up from the depths of the cave while others have made claims of spotting a sinister shadow in its depths. Either way, this isn't a trail we'd want to hike out to and definitely not a cave we'd be comfortable exploring.
13 South: Violet City Lantern Tour in Kentucky
The Violet City Lantern Tour is one of several trails in the Mammoth Caves of Kentucky. These caves make up make up the largest collection of cave systems not just in the United States, but in the entire world. The caves are also home to over 150 tales of terror that have come from personal encounters at their various depths. The story of this particular cave begins with a doctor by the name of John Corghan, who first purchased them in 1839. His belief was that the constant temperature of the caves, a balmy 54-degrees, could help patients with tuberculosis. In fact, he believed that it wouldn't just help them, but would, in fact, cure them. The only thing that came from this theory were patients who didn't make it and, tragically, one of them was Dr. John Corghan, who was diagnosed with the disease 20 years later.
12 North: Old Narrow Gauge Volunteer Trail In Randolph, Maine
For some good 'ol ghost stories, the Old Narrow Gauge Volunteer Trail definitely has its fair share. While there's no evidence pointing to the validity of the claims that there's something suspicious going on throughout this trail, there are plenty of eyewitness accounts of ghostly figures, voices, and sounds that seem to come from no particular place at all. There's also a story about a man who goes by the name of "Bicycle Larry" who disappeared in 2004, never to be seen or heard from again. It's a suspicious place for sure but whether or not it holds up to its spooky history is in part up to the hiker to decide. To find out, simply follow the old railroad as it leads you into these eerie woods.
11 South: Doll's Head Trail in Atlanta, Georgia
There are no crazy ghost stories to accompany this commonly threaded trail in Atlanta, but there are plenty of visuals to go with it. The trail itself holds a unique story of its conception and first gained the title when a man named Joel Slaten, a local carpenter, decided to take the trash and litter that was discarded around the park and turn it into something even better -- art. The result is a trail that's outfitted with bits and pieces of old dolls, including plenty of doll heads, many with eyes or hair missing. While this trail is definitely creepy in a sense (especially on a cloudy day), it's also quite amusing to find various trash that has been turned into a work of art. The great thing about this trail is that hikers can add to it, as long as the garbage has been found inside the park. It truly gives a new meaning to "repurposing".
10 North: Allenwood Forest In Pennsylvania
In the depths of the Allenwood Forest, hikers will find the abandoned town of Alvira, which was once home to roughly 100 people. In 1942, the government exercised their right of Eminent Domain following the events of Pearl Harbor during WWII and evacuated the entire town. Their intentions were to flip it in order to introduce bunkers to the land which would then house Susquehanna Ordinance Depot. Unfortunately, the government had overestimated the explosives they thought they'd be housing and the entire property was abandoned for years following the war. It sits in that same spot now, still abandoned and even more creepy than ever, in all its past military structure. The spot is used for hunting but many have claimed to feel uneasy when entering within the vicinity.
9 South: The Old Natchez Trace in Mississippi
Mississippi has a history as deep and sticky and molasses and the Old Natchez Trace is all part of the sorted tales that have shaped the state. The trail itself is stunning especially in the fall, but it holds a past that is ripe with deceptive crooks, infamous crimes, and enough bootleggers to make a mall rat selling copyrighted DVDs feel intimidated. Locals will tell you to stay away from the trail after dark because there's no saying what goes on in those lands, only that they're haunted by spirits who have lived out their history repeatedly as time goes on. Not only are the stories haunting, but the atmosphere is rather chilling as well; swamps surrounded by Spanish moss seem foreboding even on a sunny day and there are rumors that witch rituals are the reason patches of grass no longer grow around the campgrounds. If you dare tread on this haunted ground, be sure to know what's real and what's not, because you never know which visitors from the past might be lurking.
8 North: Scaponia Park In Verona
Scaponia park can be found in Oregon and is absolutely gorgeous... During the daylight hours. The park is home to seven acres of land and also houses campsites for the brave. Oregon is a state that's filled with beauty and lush nature, however, this park will give you a bit more than that. Supposedly, it's patrolled by a horse thief and, eerily enough, his dog. Many a camper and hiker have reported seeing the two and no one knows for sure what the story is, other than the man met an untimely end near the Nehalem riverbank. This apparition is said to roam the grounds and some even speculate that he's looking for revenge against the mob who caught up to him in the first place. Is it chilly in here?
7 South: Albany Rail Road Tracks in Texas
The story of the Albany Railroad tracks has received some speculation on whether or not the event actually occurred in Texas, or whether it was the result of a borrowed tale or horror. Regardless, the story remains the same and the tracks are suspiciously creepy nonetheless. The story goes that a train was once derailed on these tracks and as a result, took the lives of the 37 children who were on board. The stories of visitors to these tracks will truly shake you to your car and include anything from people feeling as though they're trying to be grabbed to psychics who believe these children are still trapped on this land. Each person who visits seems to have an account of their time spent there which makes for one hike to stay far away from.
6 North: The Iron Goat Trail in Washington
This trail is scary, eerie, and definitely holds an air of mystery. The Iron Goat Trail has a long history that's rooted in railroads that helped to expand the Pacific Northwest and encourage trade as well as transportation. Due to the worst railroad disaster in the country which was brought on by an avalanche in 1910, the railroad needed to be reconstructed and the old tracks, which lay abandoned now, are known as the Iron Goat Trail. Almost 100 people lost their lives in the avalanche that destroyed two trains, wiping them off the tracks completely in an outpouring of icy snow from Windy Mountain. Hikers have laid claim of hearing voices coming from the tunnels that are left and were used to safeguard against avalanches and while the hike is set in a mountain range that you'd swear Bob Ross painted himself, there's still a lingering eeriness about hiking around these empty tunnels.
5 South: McDows Hole In Alexander, Texas
According to backpackerverse.com, McDows Hole is considered the "scariest walks of your life". Those foreboding words don't bode well for hikers who entertain the thought of seeking out this trail and we're about to tell you why. Not only have there been reports of visitors being chased by strange balls of light, but the story to accompany your walk isn't a pleasant one. Legend states that in the 1800s, Native Americans raided the land and ran into a family who didn't live far from McDows Hole. While the man of the household was out working in the farms, Native Americans took the lives of his wife and son and left a brutal, bloody scene for his return. Upon finding out what had happened and witnessing the aftermath, he then took his own life. The family is said to walk this trail and many have witnessed the grizzly apparitions of what was left of them. Hikers are stressed to "be careful" when hiking this path.
4 North: Tillamook Head In Ecola State Park
The Tillamook Lighthouse is said to be home to some seriously spooky and suspicious activity. Oregon is known for its natural beauty but it's also home to this abandoned lighthouse that is said to house some creepy beings. The morbid history of the lighthouse encompasses multiple urns that hold the remains of seamen who fell victim to the violence of the Pacific ocean and washed ashore after meeting their tragic fate. The story also goes that one man lost his life in the process of building the lighthouse and another, all too fond of the structure, refused to ever leave it... Quite literally, until a trainee pushed him down the stairs in an act of self-defense. It's a horrifying history worthy of sea tales that this lighthouse carries with it and though it's no longer in use, its haunted history lives on in the minds of those who dare enter it.
3 South: Witch Mountain in Cedar Hill, Texas
This is one highly suspicious area that we definitely would not want to get caught in alone or after dark. While Witch Mountain also shares the name of a popular movie that's family-friendly and not nearly as menacing as this location, it's also the real-life home to a mysterious cabin that many hikers attempt to find whilst walking through the woods. We're not sure why you would be here at night lest you're camping (and if you are, we're not sure why you'd wander around after dark), but many folks have claimed to have found the cabin due to its bright interior lighting that can only be seen after-hours. On one hand, those who have had the nerve to walk up to the cabin have reported absolutely nothing upon reaching it after hiking the mountain. Others have reported finding a grizzly scene of a mutilated dog and three girls who surround it, urging them to come closer. Common sense probably tells you this but just in case? Don't do it.
2 North: Witch's Castle In Portland, Oregon
Did you know there was a castle in Oregon? While it's not a castle in the traditional sense of dungeons and watchtowers, this "castle" is a stone house that can be found along the Wildwood Trail and Lower Macleay Trail in the Pacific Northwest territory. This home was said to have housed the Balch family, who had a fifteen-year-daughter named Anna, who landed herself in a Romeo and Juliet-type situation with another's family's son. The feuding of the families, the Balchs and the Stumps, as the story goes, resulted in Anna's lover losing his life to a battle he lost with her father. Upon being arrested, he claimed he had been put under a spell by his wife, prompting him to effectively end the relationship. His crime brought about the first legal hanging that Oregon would ever see, thus resulting in a tragedy not unlike the Shakespeare tale. The home itself is still standing in all its stone glory, as creepy and mysterious as ever.
1 South: Lava Falls Trails in New Mexico
The Lava Falls isn't the site of a horror story or even a ghost tale, but its picturesque and incredibly dangerous scenery definitely leads to a mind that works in overtime. The hike resembles something out of an apocalyptic movie where the ground has simply split apart and taken with it anything that was lying on the surface. It spans only a mile, but it's one of the most dangerous miles you'll probably hike in the state. The cracks in what's left from the lava flow are big enough to fall into which is why the utmost caution must be exercised while hiking, and it's also home to the El Malpais caves, which lends itself to a disorienting stretch of land. It's beautiful and striking, but don't be too distracted by the scenery.