7 Haunted Hikes in Washington and Their Chilling Backstories

haunted hike in Washington State

If you're equally passionate about hiking and the paranormal, then these Washington State haunted hikes are the perfect outing. Connected to the history of Washington State, the trails take you through ghost towns that have actual ghosts in them as well as deep into a cave in Bigfoot country. So whether you'd love to hike in a mysterious rainforest or are seeking a mountain adventure, you'll enjoy Washington's haunted hikes.

Map of Haunted Hikes in Washington

Iron Goat Trail

Located in the North Cascades, the Iron Goat Trail is a rails to trails hiking trail. It was originally the rail bed for the Great Northern Railroad back at the turn of the 20th Century. Trains traveled it across hazardous and snowy Stevens Pass during the winter, an area that was prone to heavy snows and avalanches. Today, the Iron Goat Trail is what remains of the former railway, and it's a popular hike from early summer through late autumn after the deep snow has cleared.

You can hike all or part of the Iron Goat Trail depending on how adventurous you feel. The hike from the Martin Creek trailhead is a 6 to 12 mile round trip. The lower loop is three miles of ADA accessible trail with little elevation gain, while the upper loop is a 12 mile round trip extending to Wellington. The elevation gain is about 1,000 feet, and at times you will need to skirt alongside the edge of train tunnels. However, the view when you get to Windy Point is spectacular.

Cascade Tunnel from Windy Point

If you park at the Wellington trailhead, you can explore the most notoriously haunted section of the hike. It's the site of a 1910 railroad avalanche disaster that killed nearly 100 people, many who are believed to remain in spirit more than 100 years after the even that killed them. Here, heading east from the parking lot you can hike about a quarter of a mile along gentle railroad grade to the old Cascade Tunnel, or you can hike about a half mile east from the parking lot along gentle railroad grade to experience the snow shed that was built after the avalanche to protect trains. You can also hike about five miles round trip from the parking lot at Wellington heading east to Windy Point along a gentle railroad grade. You will reach Windy Point on the other side of the tunnel; you'll hike along its edge. Stay out of tunnels, which are dangerous and prone to flash flooding.

Wellington isn't the only place along the Iron Goat Trail where people have had experiences. Railroading was dangerous work, and many died, something paranormal investigators hypothesize is what causes all of the activity along the trail. People have had all sorts of experiences along the Iron Goat Trail including seeing full-bodied apparitions, hearing ghostly voices, capturing electronic voice phenomena and ghost photos, and more

Getting to the Iron Goat Trail

Take Highway 2 to the Martin Creek Trailhead, which is on the left side of the highway coming from the west or the right side coming from the east. You can explore the interpretive center before heading out on your hike. To get to the Wellington trailhead, from the west just as you see the ski area on your right, you'll see a break in the jersey barrier to your left (there's a lighted speed limit sign over the road here). Turn through the jersey barrier and head down the switchbacks to Wellington. Take the first right turn you come to. The roads are bumpy but passable in most vehicles. From the east, turn right through the jersey barrier at the end of the ski area.

Melmont Ghost Town

Located in Pierce County, Melmont Townsite is a ghost town that sits along the Carbon River. The trail to Melmont is about six miles round trip of railroad grade (it climbs about 100 feet). You'll need to drop down next to the Fairfax Bridge to get to the trail.

Fairfax Bridge to Melmont trail

Melmont is a former coal mining town, and as you hike, you will find crumbling remnants of bridges and buildings in a peaceful and remote setting. The town was founded in 1900. In 1905, the mine foreman's house was bombed with dynamite and one of the miners was charged with the crime but acquitted due to lack of evidence. Nobody died in the explosion. The town slowly emptied after nearby mines were closed in the 1920s.

People report seeing the apparition of a young boy who follows hikers. Others have reported seeing shadows and hearing voices as well as having other ghostly occurrences.

Getting to Melmont

Take SR165 and park on the east side of the Fairfax Bridge past Carbonado. Cross the bridge and drop down on the Northeast side of it; there's a path here to do so. When you get to the bottom of the bridge, head to your left along the trail and into Melmont. Look for little paths off of the main trail to find various crumbling foundations of the town on both sides of the trail.

stone wall at Melmont

Franklin Ghost Town

For a shorter, more gentle hike into a haunted Washington State ghost town, visit Franklin, which is located near Mount Rainier. The hike to the Franklin Townsite is about 2.5 miles round trip with some gentle elevation gains of about 200 feet.

Railroad car at Franklin

Established in the 1880s, Franklin was a coal mining town that experienced significant labor and racial tensions, leading to rioting and death. It is also the site of the worst mining disaster in King County which occurred when an arson fire in the mine suffocated 37 people (the arsonist was one of the men who died). Today, you can find an overgrown cemetery, remnants of rail cars and tracks, and building foundations scattered throughout the site.

Wherever great tragedy and loss of life occurs, claims of hauntings are sure to follow. This is certainly true of Franklin. People report seeing shadows and apparitions, hearing voices, and feeling fear and dread in the area, among other things.

Trail at Franklin

Arriving at Franklin

To get to Franklin from Seattle, take I-90 and turn right on Highway 18. Exit at SE 231st Street and turn south on SE 231st Street. Take Maple Valley - Black Diamond Road SE for about 6 miles. Go left on Lawson Street. There's a private field for parking, which costs $5 (it's on the honor system).

Ape Caves

Located in the Mount Saint Helens National Monument the Ape Caves are natural lava tubes with a self-guided tour. If you walk the whole way in, it's 2.5 miles long of gentle grade, but be warned it is dark and chilly, so bring a flashlight and wear layers and sturdy footwear. The cave has a few different routes, some more accessible to less experienced hikers and children than others. Due to heavy traffic, timed reservations may be required at certain times of the year.

Ape Cave at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in Washington

Reports include strange sounds, odd feelings, and even the ghost sightings, and the cave is located in an area well known for Bigfoot sightings, as well.

Getting to Ape Cave

From I-5, take exit 21 in Southwestern Washington and head east on SR-503. Continue for 35-ish miles to FR-83 and turn left. In just over 1.5 miles, take another left onto FR-8303 to the Ape Cave parking area.

Hoh Rainforest

Located in Olympic National Park, the Hoh Rainforest is beautiful and mysterious. With its lichen and moss-draped trees, the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula has a naturally spooky ambience that leads many to believe it's haunted. There are multiple hikes you can take with different distances and elevation gains including an easy .8 mile loop trail called the Hall of Mosses that takes you past some pretty spectacular sites.

Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park. Washington

Soak up the mysterious ambience here. Keep your eyes peeled...Twilight fans just may recognize some of the views in the forest. And be prepared for rain because it rains here a lot, but it's well worth the views. Hikers report having otherworldly experiences here, including hearing footsteps and seeing things out of the corners of their eyes. It's a mysterious, beautiful world.

Getting to Hoh Rainforest

Get there early--the trail fills up quickly. You may need permits to access some parts of the trail. Take US 101 along the Olympic Peninsula, heading North into the Olympic National Park. Turn right onto the Upper Hoh Road, which will take you right to the visitor center.

Lime Kiln

If you don't mind a climb, consider the Lime Kiln Trail near Granite Falls in Snohomish County. The hike climbs about 600 feet and is 7 miles round trip, but you'll come to a spooky abandoned lime kiln along the way. Much of the trail traverses Robe Canyon Historic Park. As you hike, you can read interpretive signs sharing the history of the area. The abandoned kiln was built in the 1890s and in use until the 1920s.

Stillaguamish River South Fork

Haunted claims at the Lime Kiln are associated with lore about Satanic rituals conducted here, and people report encountering the spirits of animals and people sacrificed in these rituals.

How to Get to the Lime Kiln Trailhead

In Granite Falls, turn south from SR-92 onto Granite Avenue. Take a left on Pioneer Street and left onto Waite Mill Road. Follow the signs for the trail. You'll turn into Robe Canyon Historic Park, and the trailhead is just inside. Parking is free, but the trailhead fills up quickly, so go early.

Haunted Hiking in Washington

Take a hike to explore haunted Washington State. Always double check conditions before you go, especially with trails in the mountains where snow may block your way several months out of the year.

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7 Haunted Hikes in Washington and Their Chilling Backstories