Haunted Southern California Hikes

Karen Frazier
Old carts near ghost town

Looking for some spooky outdoor fun? Head out on a haunted hike in Southern California. Lace up your hiking boots and pack your backpack and head out to the nearest Southern California haunted trails.

Skidoo Road, Death Valley

Located in Inyo County, Skidoo Road is a 17-mile round trip trail with over 1,500 feet in elevation gain. Since it starts at over 4,000 feet, that means you'll be climbing high on this hiking trail, which also serves as a horse and biking trail. The ghost town of Skidoo sits at about 5,700 feet of elevation covered in sage, but you can still see the remnants of the mining town that was once there. You'll begin to notice buildings at about 3 miles in with the full townsite at 7 miles down the road.

Ghosts of Skidoo

Old mining camp remains in Skidoo

Skidoo was in full swing in 1906 when gold was discovered nearby. The town itself lasted about a decade before the gold supply was exhausted. Today, legends tell of the headless ghost, reportedly a bartender named Hooch Simpson who was hanged after murdering a shopkeeper he was attempting to rob.

Hike There if You Dare

With ghosts, elevation, and dessert, be prepared for a challenging hike. The road into Skidoo is drivable in high clearance vehicles, but it's a bumpy ride, and in inclement weather conditions can be challenging. Check road conditions before you go.

Sam Merrill Trail, Altadena

Start your hike to the historic Cobb Estate at the Cobb Estate/Sam Merril Trailhead in Altadena. It's located at the corner of Lake Avenue and East Loma Alta Drive. Park in the neighborhood and follow the dirt path to the Sam Merrill Trailhead. The total trail distance up Echo Mountain through the Haunted Forest is about 6 miles round trip with an elevation gain of approximately 1,500 feet.

The Haunted Forest and Cobb Estate

When you first step on the trail, you immediately pass through the Haunted Forest, which is the former Cobb Estate. Built in 1918, the Cobb Estate was home first to a lumber baron and later to nuns. And while the building is no longer there, the grounds are reportedly haunted. People note seeing odd lights on the property and hear strange sounds. At the end of the forest, you'll reach the Sam Merrill Trailhead.

Echo Mountain

Continue up the trail to Echo Mountain, and you'll see remnants of a time past, passing the ruins of a burned hotel, Echo Mountain House, and the ill-fated Mt Lowe Railway. Along with ghosts and ruins of buildings and railways, when you get to the summit you'll be rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding area.

Bee Rock and Old LA Zoo, Los Angeles

Located in Griffith Park, the Old LA Zoo was left as is, minus live animals, when the zoo moved to a new location. Ghost animals may remain, however. Now, you can explore this 3.8 mile haunted hike that has an elevation gain of less than 600 feet.

The Haunted Zoo

Old Los Angeles Zoo

Opened over 100 years ago, the old zoo was closed in 1965, but the habitats were all left in place. People report experiencing spirits of both animals that once inhabited the zoo and the people who worked and visited there. Follow a loop trail or just explore the zoo to see what you experience. The trail is open year-round. The park closes at dusk.

Elfin Forest, San Diego

The Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve near San Diego has about 11 miles of trails. The park is open year-round to the public, opening at 8 AM daily and closing about 30 minutes before sunset. The reserve is located at 8833 Harmony Grove Road in Escondido.

Storied History of the Elfin Forest

Urban legends and lore surround the Elfin Forest, including rumors that the religious retreat located there called QuestHaven was actually a mental hospital. Another legend suggests the forest was home to a White Witch whose family was murdered and buried there. Still others assert gypsies lived in the area at one time in Spooks Canyon, inside of the forest, and others say the forest was home to Native Americans. There was even a reported spiritualism retreat there of psychics and seers.

Elfin Forest Hauntings

While the legends of the history are dubious at best, many visitors to the area claim to experience hauntings including hearing and seeing Native American children's ghosts running and playing and encountering the spirit of a lady in white, who floats above the ground.

Haunted California Hikes

These haunted hikes are just a few of the many rumored hauntings in Southern California. Whether you visit haunted ships or embark on a haunted road trip, there are plenty of ways to get out and experience ghosts in California.

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Haunted Southern California Hikes