Experience nature and history, get some exercise, and maybe spot a ghost or two. If this sounds like your idea of fun, a haunted hike might be just what you're looking for. From Civil War battlegrounds to scenic American icons, these hikes might just get your heart pumping in more ways than one.
Antietam Bloody Lane, Maryland
Visitors to the Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland can take the 2 mile easy hike along Bloody Lane. It has an elevation gain of about 200 feet along gently rolling slopes. History weighs heavily here as Bloody Lane is the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.
Before the Civil War came to Maryland, Bloody Lane was known as The Sunken Road, a peaceful dirt farming road near Sharpsburg. Fighting began on September 17, 1862. Thousands of Union and Confederate troops engaged in a short (four hours) but bloody battle that ended up with thousands of casualties and a river of blood running down The Sunken Road.
Like other Civil War battlefields, Bloody Lane is reportedly haunted by restless spirits that engaged in the bloody battle. Visitors to Bloody Lane report hearing the sounds of battle and smelling gunpowder. Some also report seeing what they think are re-enactors walking the road, only to realize they have disappeared.
Ghost House Trail, Tennessee
Located in Big Ridge State Park near Maynardville, Tennessee, the Ghost House Trail (also called the Ghost Loop Trail) is a 1.2-mile loop trail that takes you past the Hutcheson family farm and Norton cemetery. It's an easy, flat hike, but it's a haunted one.
One of the Hutcheson daughters, Mary, died on the farm of tuberculosis, and many hikers report hearing her as they pass by. Hikers also report encountering a phantom dog in the woods and spotting inhabitants of the graves in the Norton Cemetery which appear in photographs standing behind their final resting place.
Hollywood Sign, California
There's lots of haunted hiking in Southern California, but perhaps the best known spooky trail you can take is the one that leads you to the Hollywood sign. Not only are there stunning views near an iconic piece of Americana, but there may be ghosts, as well. The Hollywood sign hike starts in Griffith Park, and you can take one of three routes to the sign.
- The easiest is the Mount Hollywood trail. It's about 6½ miles with an elevation gain of around 500 feet.
- Of moderate difficulty and intensity is the Canyon Drive trail. The path climbs about 1,000 feet on a 6½ mile out and back hike.
- The most difficult trail is the Cahuenga Peak hike, a 6 mile round-trip hike with some steep climbs.
In 1932, starlet Peg Entwistle jumped to hear death from the Hollywood sign. Now she reportedly haunts the sign; many have reported seeing her ghostly figure in the mist. Others report the scent of flowers, encounters with a ghostly figure, and general feelings of spookiness.
Norton Creek Trail, North Carolina
Beginning at the shores of Lake Fontana, this 6-mile hike will take you through woods, abandoned settlements, and almost more cemetaries than you can count; there are approximately 200 cemetaries in the general area. It's a fairly flat, easy hike, and there are even camping areas along the route, if you're so inclined to spend a night in an area with a history of hauntings.
There are two ghosts in particular that travellers should know about. The first is called Spearfinger, a terrifying witch who lures children into the woods, then rocks them to sleep before using her sharp, stone-like finger to carve out their livers.
The other ghost was a settler in the area who went into the woods looking for his daughter and never came out. He's said to be benevolent, helping lost hikers find their way out of the forest.
Transept Trail, Grand Canyon
Located in Grand Canyon National Park, the Transept Trail is a 3-mile out and back trail with an elevation gain of roughly 600 feet. It's a hike at elevation, however, so be prepared. The trailhead sits at 8,215 feet, and it passes cliffs and hotels along the North Rim of the canyon. You can pick up the trail at either the Grand Canyon Lodge or the North Rim Campground, and as Grand Canyon hikes go, this one is relatively easy.
The Transept Trail is frequently featured on lists as one of America's most haunted hikes. Hikers here report encountering the ghost of the Wailing Woman, a mother and wife who reportedly lost her husband and children along the North Rim in a hiking accident.