Forrest Mallard- October 30, 2020
Hauntings are most often associated with indoors locations (houses, hospitals, prisons), but some ghosts and supernatural beings are not confined to man-made structures. Long before there were haunted houses, stories had been told for centuries about haunted woods, lakes, and cemeteries. Here are some haunted hikes to take you to some of these places.
This is a list of haunted trails from around the world. From haunted British countrysides allegedly patrolled by flesh-eating demons, to the dementia-inducing suicide forest of Japan filled with stalking wraiths. Several of these trails I have discovered through my travels and you will not find on any other lists.
Some of my own paranormal hiking adventures include:
I have further expanded this list through the years by researching supernatural stuff in a few dusty libraries in Europe, by contacting tourism boards, and through first-person interviews. A lot of work has been done to make this list as comprehensive as possible. These destinations are ripe for brave explorers. Just be warned, when you hike these trails, you’re never walking alone.
To find a haunted trail in most parts of Asia, you just have to go hiking… anywhere. The ghosts are all about you. The cultures in many countries throughout Asia treat ghosts as a fact of life. The presence of spirits, demons, and other supernatural entities are woven into their religions, architecture, and daily rituals. Just ask a local abut ghost sightings in the area if you want to start a long conversation.
Easily the most famous haunted place in all of India, Bhangarh Fort lies in the Sariska Reserve in the north of the country. It has become a site of pilgrimage for lovers of the paranormal as well as people keen to see the grandeur of the site. Walking through it you find ruined temples and palaces as well as natural beauty.
Hikers (mostly tourists) can visit the site by day. At night though, the rules change. So fearsome is the fort’s reputation that visitors must ask permission from the government to visit the site after dark and rarely is that permission granted.
Visitors have reported seeing faces staring out from the ruined buildings, the voices of women screaming in the night, and shadowy figures who follow before suddenly disappearing. No one dares to live anywhere close to the old town that was mysteriously abandoned over 200 years ago.
There are two legends as to why this beautiful area is said to be so haunted.. and why the people fled so many years ago.
The first legend tells the story of a holy mystic by the name of Baba Balnath. He gave permission for the town to be built as long as the buildings cast no shadow upon his home. He warned that if this happened, he would destroy the life there. — Everything was fine for many years and several generations, but eventually a decedent prince built his palace so high that it did cast a shadow over the mystic’s forbidden retreat and the town was devastated as per the prophesy.
The second legend is a bit more romantic.. and eerie.
This is the tale of a dark wizard named Singhiya who was well versed in the occult. He, like everyone else in the region, was in love with the beautiful Ratnavati, the princess of Bhangarh. Knowing that he would never be allowed to see her and win her love, he placed a powerful attraction spell on some perfumed oil that would hypnotize and draw the princess if she just touched it. The princess saw the wizard placing the dark magic spell before selling the oil to her maid.. and when she returned home, she through the perfume on the ground. The rocks absorbed the oil and began to move toward the wizard, eventually crushing him. In his last breaths, he cursed the town and all who lived there… the following year, the princess died in a battle within the city. — It is said that the town will remain haunted until the reincarnated spirit of the princess returns to the city.
This trail located on this southern Japanese island passes through a location with a tragic history. During WWII, Japanese propaganda had convinced the nation that if Americans made it to the shores of Japan that they would rape, torture and slaughter everyone. As World War II was coming to a close, soldiers in the Japanese army as well as local civilians in Okinawa were so terrified of the incoming American forces that they threw themselves off cliffs and were instructed to hide and kill themselves to avoid American capture.
Around 180 soldiers and civilians fled to Chibichiri. Of those, 84 died in the cave by suicides involving poison, stabbings, and gunshots. The cave itself is only 100 feet deep. However, hiking trails exist around the cave as well. There are the memorials to those who died at Chibichiri. Artists added skulls and strange figures to the cave as a way of showing the painful last moments of the Okinawa locals.
Hikers that make their way to the cave and venture inside feel a strange feeling of dread. Some hear whispers in their ear, and others claim to feel someone tugging at their clothes.
For hardy hikers the Aokigahara Forest makes for a fascinating and truly beautiful trip. It sits on the low slopes of Mount Fuji, a 35-square kilometer of dense trees and secret caves. It is an accessible two-hour drive from Tokyo and a way to escape the churn of Japanese urban life. Be warned though, travelers report confusing trails, narrow paths, and an overwhelming silence.
Locals who live near Aokigahara said they could easily identify three types of visitors who head into this infamous forest – the trekkers, the curious, and those planning a one-way trip.
A literal translation for Aokigahara is Sea of Trees, but it’s more famous, and much more sinister name is The Suicide Forest. Though it is beautiful and eerie, in recent years it has gained an unfavorable reputation as one of the world’s most-used suicide sites (second only to the Golden Gate Bridge).
Another reason why people believe that the forest is haunted is due to yurei, or souls filled with hatred, sadness, and a desire for revenge. According to legend, during famines people brought their family members to this forest and left them to die there. They sacrificed some family members to save food for the rest. Those left in the forest would slowly die due to starvation, turning them into yurei.
locals claim that all the grief and anger has ‘infected’ the landscape. Spooky encounters are common, with the Japanese legend of ghostly yurei finding fertile ground. People also report feeling that the forest was stopping them from leaving. This disorientation isn’t helped by the fact that magnetism in volcanic soil can affect compasses.
The belief in yurei continues to today. When a body is found in Aokigahara, forest guardians place it in a room before sending it to authorities. Legend has it that if the body is left alone, its yurei become aggressive and start screaming. So the forest guards will play rock-paper-scissors to determine who will be the temporary companion for the body.
Clark Air Base Hospital has a lot of haunted hiking trails around it, even if you’re not legally allowed to hike them. This location is also marked by tragedy that occurred during World War II.
This hospital was erected as a place for American soldiers to heal after injuries they sustained during the war. Unfortunately, the cures they had were pretty brutal and later on, the Japanese captured the region and turned Clark Hospital into an execution chamber.
If you’re looking for serious terror, this is the place to go. Everything from spectral screams to shadow people have been reported here. American and Japanese soldiers sporting gruesome injuries have been seen.
One thing you might want to know before you go is that these ghosts have a tendency to get violent. People have been attacked by invisible forces on the grounds here, as well as warned by ghosts to leave and never come back.
If you hike into the haunted Accursed Mountains legend has it that you might run into fairies, sprites, mountain nymphs, and possibly even aliens.
I can say with enthusiasm that the hospitality I was shown in this area of northern Albania was legendary. It was worth facing all of the supernatural dangers to be able to experience the kindness of the locals here… and the 8-day hike is truly epic.
What also makes this haunted hike unique is that there is nothing eerie or spooky about the area. It is all shockingly beautiful.
There’s an old Albanian story about how the Accursed Mountains got their name. Long ago two brothers went out hunting, and as they were making their way through the forest, they discovered a beautiful fairy. They asked her to choose one of them, but she liked them both – one for his looks, the other for his bravery. When the brave one killed his brother and took the fairy home to meet mom, the mother was so enraged that she placed a curse on the fairy and on the mountains where they found her.
In the past, things haven’t always gone to plan in Albania, but one thing you can count on today when you walk the well-marked trails through the Accursed Mountains is a transforming experience of nature. It is a spectacular and almost impenetrable setting, with just a handful of high passes allowing access to small farms and communities in deeply incised valleys that seem almost cut off from the outside world. One of many trails begins in the historic town of Shkodra and passes down into the Bogra Valley (where the sealed roads come to an end) and over Diagonal Pass and into Theth National Park, an untouched world of waterfalls, caves, and canyons dominated by the vertical 3,280-foot (1,000-m) south face of Albania’s version of the Matterhorn, Mount Arapit, which is that rarest of things — an as of yet unclimbed vertical European rock wall.
Once you enter the village of Theth, you will feel like you hav e gone back in time. The villagers live just as they did centuries ago, and they still live by their own medieval laws, which include blood feuds with their neighbors. But do not worry at all, as even though they might fight with each other to the death, they are required by their ‘code’ to treat any travelers as a VIP.. and this includes providing three days of rest in their home and three days of food.
In northern Czech Republic, in a part of the country called Bohemian Paradise, I traveled to the quaint little town of Turin, which is right in the heart of all adventure opportunities.
In the nearby village of Malá Skála, I could hike to get to the fabulous ruins of Frýdštejn Castle. Then I had to double back along a ridge to get to the romantic Valdštejn castle, perched on a cliff overlooking the town. Both of these castles are popular sites for local Czech tourists to visit with about a $2 entrance fee to each site.
But my next location was going to be very different. An ancient medieval castle, empty and in ruins isolated deep in the forest.
I had found a vague reference of a ‘Castle Zbirohy‘ nearby, and I put the location into my GPS and started walking. After several hours I had to leave the main hiking trails and was now off-grid.
This area is famous for its otherworldly, towering rock pillars (the fantasy landscapes in Chronicles of Narnia were all filmed nearby). I was easy to become lost and disorientated on the twisting mountain paths and eventually I had to leave the path completely to get to the remote ruins.
As I was thinking I had wasted my time on a fruitless, random adventure, I looked up. On top of a large boulder was a massive stone guard-tower hidden in the trees. It was as if this tower had snuck up on me. From where I was standing I thought that was the whole castle. Kind of disappointing, but kind of cool.
A few steps further and I see a crumbling wall up on a hillside through more trees. I climbed the hill, squeezed through a hole in the wall, and suddenly I was in the heart of this amazing, eerie castle courtyard, all by myself.
I explored every inch of the ruins and found tunnels and towers and large rooms that were still part of the structure. Being alone in a place like this felt incredibly special. Seeing the dwellings of the people that lived in these places centuries ago. How they carved out niches in the rocks to keep livestock and store water. This was once a thriving fortress. The walls still stand to about 10 meters high, there is a basement area you can walk through. I stayed a long time. It was just me and the castle ruins, alone, deep in the Czech forest.
Information about these ruins doesn’t exist online, but after asking around in a local pub, I did learn some amazing stories about this isolated castle ruin.
Zbirohy is perhaps a combination of the words “zbily = beaten up, killed // “roh” = rock, horn. Dates back to the 1300s, and there used to be a moat around the main building. What I found the most fascinating was the legend that the locals associated with the castle.
THE LEGEND OF THE DARK KNIGHT
According to this legend, the Dark Knight was a nobleman, but also the leader of a gang of highwaymen or bandits. This gang occupied the castle and they were known for being brave and cunning, but also very cruel. He got the name ‘Dark Knight’ because of the color of his armor. After the bandits raided a group of travelers whom had connections to nearby nobility, the powerful neighbors banded together to put a stop to the Dark Knight’s shenanigans, and they laid siege to the castle and killed all of its defenders. The last one to be killed, The Dark Knight, tried to escape by jumping off one of the tower walls, but he was captured and beheaded. To this day, The Dark Knight does not rest in peace and it is said that he roams the castle ruins as a dark cloud.
I am very glad I learned of this legend AFTER I roamed through the pitch black castle basements and tunnels… all by myself.
Hike in the park surrounds Chillingham Castle, a 13th century stronghold that is positively overflowing with ghosts. Just a few of the more famous sectors in the castle include the ‘White Pantry Ghost’ (a pale lady who begs for water) and the ‘Blue Boy’ who haunted one of the bedrooms. He appeared as a soft blue light hovering above the bed, giving off a wailing sound. The castle’s owners claim that Blue Boy’s appearances ended after the bones of a man and young boy were found buried inside a wall.
Chillingham’s wild cattle are a more natural, but no less worrying feature of the castle grounds. The herd are the last few survivors of the wild herds that once roamed Britain. Many declare them the last wild cattle in the world. They are extremely dangerous and can only be visited up-close with a warden.
You may catch a glimpse of them on the 4-mile walk around Chillingham Park. The moderately easy route crosses moorland and forest to reach an outstanding lookout point at Kay Hill. You can finish up with a tour of the castle and, if you’re really brave, book a room and stay the night.
Pendle Hill is famous for the cruel witch trials that took the lives of ten people in 1612. Ever since, the hill has been associated with a full range of supernatural happenings, including the ghost of a young girl, thought to be nine-year old Jennet Preston, a victim of the witch trials.
There are several guided ghost walks that explore the hill. If you want to take in the witchy atmosphere for yourself, then the route to the top is simple, if steep. Starting from the quaint but equally spooky village of Barley, the path shoots straight to the summit. From the viewing point you can take in the expanse of Lancashire countryside and try to avoid ghostly Jennet’s attention before making your way back to Barley through the aptly named Fell Wood.
Pluckley is in the Guinness Book of records as it is reputed to be the most haunted village in Britain. It is reputed to have twelve (possibly thirteen or fourteen) ghosts. These spirits include numerous Ladies (both Red and White), a phantom coach and horses, an 18th Century highwayman and several shades seen hanging (literally) around town. A full list of ghosts can be found on the town’s website.
The most frightening apparition may well be the shadowy outline seen in the doorway of the Old Windmill. Widely thought to be the remnant of the Miller, Richard ‘Dicky’ Buss, the shadow appears most frequently before thunderstorms.
The nearby Dering Woods (aka ‘Screaming Woods‘) is a particularly troublesome spot. Wanderers there report shadows, whispers and cries of those who lost their way.
The screams are allegedly the sounds of a man being attacked, however, there are well over a dozen different ghost stories that involve this strange region. Some say that what you’re hearing are the remnants of a long-gone battle that evaded history books. Others claim that it’s the sounds of a woman being raped.
At times, you can even see misty figures and shadows flitting from tree to tree. Locals are willing to give a tour if you ask for one, but make no mistake about it, this place is creepy no matter how many people join you for the hike.
For those who are brave enough, the woods offer a pair of waymarked paths and plenty of wildlife to see amongst the spooks.
Wistman’s Wood is thought to be the last remnants of a forest that once covered the entirety of Dartmoor, with this particular patch being around 500 years old. At 9 acres, it’s a wonder why such a small area has been left untouched. The place is shrouded in myths and legend, from mystical Druids to the evil Wisht Hounds of the devil himself and it is listed as one of ‘Britain’s Most Haunted Places.’ A stunted oak forest covered in moss and lichen. Tortured branches, gnarled and curled like a withering corpse’s hands. Artists and storytellers have been inspired by Wistman’s Wood for centuries.
Unlike most allegedly haunted locations, Wistman’s Wood does not rely on a singular legend for its status as a haunted wood. The legends surrounding this primeval moors include a combination of Pagan sorcery, flesh eating devil dogs, and mischievous pixies that will gleefully lead you to your death.
ANCIENT DRUID RITUALS: Druids conducted rituals here beneath the oaks, carving spirals and symbols into the moss that you can still see today. It takes little imagination to see why this is seen as a spiritual place. Wildflowers cling to every rock and branch, birds flitter between the leaves and the rush of the river can be heard in the valley below. It’s peaceful and incredibly beautiful.
HELL HOUNDS: The setting for the famous Sherlock Holmes supernatural novel ‘Hound of the Baskervilles.’ Legends of the Wisht Hounds keep locals out of the woods after nightfall. This legendary pack of devil dogs are described as jet black giants with red eyes and a terrifying hunger for flesh. These phantom canines have allegedly been terrorizing the moors for centuries. If the hounds are not enough to keep you away, how do you feel about snakes? Also rumored to populate Wistman’s Wood is nests of highly venomous Adder snakes.
PIXIES: The name of these woods and this trail is derived from the Devonshire word Wisht, which means pixie-led, or haunted. Dartmoor is notorious for its pixies, who seem to haunt every tor and outcrop. From leading lost travelers astray to causing cars to crash along the empty roads, they have a mischievous reputation. If the name is correct, then Wistman’s Wood is one place where you can surely expect to be pixie-led if you aren’t careful.
Wychwood is a small forest in the heart of the Cotswolds. Shadowed by ancient trees and carpeted in bluebells, it looks an idyllic place to meander on an autumn day. Dark stories abound, however. Travelers have felt disembodied hands upon their shoulders and witnessed the shades of sobbing children.
The Wychwoods’ most famous specter is Amy Robsart, the wife of the Earl of Leicester. In 1560 she was found dead of a broken neck at home in Cumnor Place. Though the official verdict claimed she fell downstairs, rumors persisted that her husband had her murdered.
Legend says that her ghost later confronted the Earl in the Wychwood, and told him he would die in ten days, which he then did. Since then, as the story goes, to see Amy means your own death is close by. Going here means that you will see a lot of strange lights, and maybe a shadow person or two. Some also claim to have the feeling of being watched while walking through the area.
The Dublin Mountains Way tail leads you to some notorious ruins. With a nickname like the Hell Fire Club, it’s no surprise that Montpelier Hill ranks amongst Ireland’s creepiest places. The hill shares its spooky name with the ruined hunting lodge that sits on its summit. This building was built on top of prehistoric graves (of course) and the roof blew off in a storm shortly after it was completed in 1725. Since then legends have transformed the lodge into a hotbed of occult practices and devil worship by the Irish Hellfire club members.
In the best-known story, members of the club invited a stranger to join them in a card game. When one player bent to pick up a dropped card he saw that the stranger had a pair of cloven feet! Another story tells of a gigantic black cat that prowls the site, maybe just waiting for an unsuspecting walker to turn up for dinner.
There are dozens of stories like this, each more horrible than the rest. That said, the hill is a key destination for hikers and weekend walkers. It’s a moderate climb of around 1.5 hours, through forest paths, with a fantastic view of the city from the top.
Everything from UFO sightings to random equipment malfunctions have been reported here. Locals stay away from Hoia Baciu at all costs. Some say that the curses can even follow you home.
Hoia-Baciu Forest is often referred to as ‘Romania’s Bermuda Triangle,’ it hides a ghoul or ghostly legend behind every crooked tree.
There are tales of people disappearing, only to re-emerge from the trees months or years later, with no memory of where they have been. Electronic devices malfunction and people report rashes and headaches. Walkers have heard giggling and screaming from the trees.
At the heart of Hoia-Baciu is The Clearing. This oval-shaped break in the trees is the focus of paranormal activity. In the 1960s scientists and engineers photographed discs and strange lights in the sky above The Clearing. So, there may be aliens to worry about as well as ghosts. Failing that, you may also meet a brown bear.
If you want to explore this freaky forest then you can make the trip from nearby Cluj. For this one I would recommend a guide.
The Battle of Culloden was the last to be fought on British soil. In 1746 the Jacobite rebellion faced the much larger governmental forces and were wiped out completely. Culloden Moor remains stained by the slaughter with clan graves dotted across the stunning, if bleak, landscape. Ghosts of Culloden are said to roam and birds are said to fall silent here.
The Culloden Battlefield trail crosses woodland trails takes you right up to the clan graves as well as some prehistoric cairns. The graves are only a short walk from the Visitor Centre, but the entire trail covers 8 miles.
This is one of the few places that feels safer to visit at Halloween, as the bulk of the spectral activity occurs on the anniversary of the battle each April. Then, it is said, the anguished cries of fallen soldiers can be heard rolling across the moor. Don’t feel too secure, though. All through the year hikers report sightings of a tall, gaunt man wearing tartan. Over and over he mumbles the word “defeated.” Also, a giant black bird, called the Great Scree, is said to be a harbinger of doom. If you see it, maybe it’s time to head back to the car.
Millions of people have hiked this legendary pilgrimage through the centuries. Today, as one of the most popular treks in the world, many people might not realize the haunted history associated with many locations along this 500-mile-long trail.
THE WITCHES WOOD OF RONCESVALLES
If you began your Camino in St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, after a devastating climb way up into the Pyrenees Mountains, you will reach Roncesvalles – a medieval monastery of epic proportions. That night your body will recover as you sleep like a baby in the comfort of the monastery dorms.
The next morning, just as you are leaving the gilded ornamentation of this religious fortress, you are met with a startling contrast. Just minutes outside of the monastery walls, you are greeted with a historical sign letting you know you are about to enter the The Sorginarizaga Forest aka the ‘Oak Grove of Witches.’
“The Sorginarizaga Forest, whose meaning is ‘Oakwood of Witches,’ was where some of the most well-known witches’ covens of the XVI century were held, which led to a much-talked-about repression which ended up taking nine people from the region to the stake. The White Cross, a symbol of Devine protection on the road which is the main route between Burguete until 1880 is also sited in this enclave.”
Until the seventeenth century, this area is where pagan rituals occurred, along with “wild parties, dancing around bonfires and holding orgies by moonlight,” according to the Kingdom of Navarre government tourism website.
In the Oak Grove of the Witches, women did not fare well. In 1611, the Spanish Inquisition received instructions to go into this area and hunt down so-called witches and heretics. During this rash of persecution, 2,000 people in the area confessed under torture; of these, more than 1,300 were aged seven to fourteen.
When I looked at the stone cross, it gave me no sense of reassurance or protection at all. Instead, I thought of the many innocent women who had died brutally at the hands of Christians simply because God-fearing people viewed their practices of natural healing and using herbs as the devil’s work.
If you happen to be walking the Camino de Santiago early in the spring, this excursion into the Witches Grove will be made extra spooky with the addition of extremely thick morning fog.
THE GHOST PILGRIM – Cathedral of Santiago
At the end of your month-long trek across Spain, you reach your destination, the Cathedral of Santiago. If you search around the cathedral at night, you will find the shadow of the ghost pilgrim.
The Skirrid is a small mountain in south east Wales. Its name derives from the Welsh word for “shiver” – a fact that many put down to the frequent landslides. You may find other reasons to tremble, though, with Wales’ most haunted pub sitting at the foot of the mountain.
The Skirrid Inn is the start and end point for the 4-mile circular walk up the mountain, From the summit you can enjoy panoramic views before returning to the Inn for dinner and an overnight stay. The Inn dates back to the 11th Century and has been used as both a courtroom and place of execution. It is said that both the judge and his evil hangman still prowl the rooms looking for those to condemn.
Right around the world-famous Hollywood sign is a very haunted hiking trail. Griffith Park is where the aspiring starlet Peggy Entwhistle committed suicide after feeling like her career was going nowhere.
Feeling hopeless about life in general, Peggy killed herself at the Hollywood sign. Ironically, she was about to be offered a role in a movie about a woman who commits suicide, and it may have been that very dramatic irony that made her a quasi-celebrity in death.
These days, a lot of Hollywood hopefuls leave presents for her spirit in hopes that she’ll bless them with the fame she never had in life.
The seven-mile hike between Yosemite’s Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls has its share of dangers. The pounding cascades create wet, slippery rocks, and give rise to the name Mist Trail. Over the years numerous hikers have had accidents or come to unfortunate ends on these slick paths. While the majority of incidents can be dismissed as missteps, local folklore pins the blame on something else.
According to legend, these and other Yosemite waterfalls are haunted by a trickster spirit named Po-ho-no, or ‘The Evil Wind.’ If a hiker draws too close to the edge of the falls, Po-ho-no may take the chance to shove you over the precipice.
Add this to the park’s numerous Bigfoot sightings, odd disappearances, and Nightcrawlers and hiking Yosemite seems like a great place for a haunted hike.
Tales of the night marchers abound throughout Hawaii, where people claim to have seen ghosts marching to an ancient and primitive drumbeat. These night marchers, or hukai’po, sometimes appear as warriors in armor. Other apparitions look like Hawaiian royals. Typically, they carry torches and walk in processions that hover above the ground, though some observers have reported seeing footprints in their wake.
As their name suggests, the night marchers generally appear after sundown, but a few sightings have been reported during daylight hours, and Manoa Falls is one of their hot spots. This 150-foot waterfall, reached via a 1.6-mile out-and-back hike, is also popular with tourists—but if you see the hukai’po, local wisdom dictates that you should play dead by lying on the ground and averting your eyes out of respect for the walking deceased.
With a name like Bloody Lane Trail, you might guess that this one is haunted. This 1.5-mile hiking trail was at the heart of one of the bloodiest battles on American soil. Legend has it that bodies were stacked up to peoples’ waists and that the trail was permanently stained red.
To this day, people smell gunpowder, hear shouts, and see strange balls of light bouncing along the trails. During both night hikes and day hikes, people have seen Civil War soldiers that they thought were reenactors vanish before their eyes.
Freetown covers 5000 acres of southeastern Massachusetts and offers miles of unpaved roads for runners, hikers and cyclists. It is incredibly scenic. Despite all of this, the forest is better known for the oddness that has occurred within its boundaries.
Freetown is the home of the Pukwudgie: a race of little troll-like beings with a love for causing mayhem. Native American legends feature plenty of stories of these critters causing misery for unsuspecting visitors.
Profile Rock was an epicenter for hauntings. This 50 foot granite slab was eerie enough on its own, looming from the misty trees like the face of a god. Local Wampanoag natives long claimed it was the unnatural likeness of their chief Massasoit. Strange lights, disembodied voices and weird glow are common. Elsewhere in the park, Hockomock Swamp is a stalking ground for strange entities, including giant red-eyed dogs and a large apelike creature that attacks hikers. All of this goes back years with early settlers quickly referring to the site as The Devil’s Swamp.
Scariest of all, though, are the disappearances. Over the years dozens have entered the woods never to come out. Some cases are said to have been the result of a murder, while others have simply never been found.
Set within the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in north-central New Mexico, the Tent Rocks Trail takes you into the midst of a giant, open-air laboratory filled with remarkable cone-shaped rock formations, canyons, arroyos, and cliff faces streaked with lines of link and beige-colored rock, all the product of volcanic activity from the Jemez volcanic field seven million years ago, when vast amounts of pumice, ash, and tuff were deposited over the Pajarito Plateau. Even now when walking this trail you can see the telltale signs of this ancient event-tiny fragments of translucent obsidian (volcanic glass) still glistening in the soil.
The monument has long been a sacred place for the Pueblo de Cochiti tribe, who named the area Kasha-Katuwe, which means “white cliffs.” Archaeological surveys have traced human habitation here back almost 4,000 years, and to this day descendants of the Pueblo de Cochiti tribe still live in the surrounding area.
Legend has it that this area is also the stalking ground for the terrifying ‘bird woman’ or ‘La Lechuza.’
La Lechuza is a legendary creature from Mexican folklore. It is usually described as a bruja, or witch, who can transform into an owl but retains her human face and hair. Some tales say she is the size of regular owls, others the size of a human.
Once she finds a target, she disguises her voice as a baby’s and will cry outside your door, waiting to pounce on you and swoop you away forever. Again, this is no ordinary bird. She is known to carry away full-grown men within her talons. If she can not get you outside at night, she can also visit you in your dreams.
Though she is known throughout the southwest, my friend David swears he had a run-in with her after hiking the Tent Rocks Trail.
“Several years ago a friend of mine bought an old house in New Mexico, just north of Albuquerque. The house had an odd energy to it with excessive locks on the bedroom doors as well as thick grates on the windows. We thought this was because someone had lived there who had a drug problem, or they were paranoid of local crime.
One day while we were working to restore the house, an old gentleman arrived at the door and proceeded to tell us about the owner who had built the house. He was very serious as he explained why there were so many locks on the doors and grates on the windows. Those were the precautions that the locals took to protect themselves from the bird woman.
We thought this was just crazy talk, so we put the conversation out of our mind. A week later we went hiking on the Tent Rocks Trail. We started very late in the evening around 6 pm and it was already dusk. As we headed up the path, a man with a very anxious look on his face was hurrying for the trailhead to leave. He stopped long enough to warn us to turn around as he had heard owls chirping in the evening, which is a sign that La Lechuza was there.
About 20 minutes later we heard the chirping and looked at each other apprehensively. Then we could see the shadow of a bird much larger than a falcon flying above the rocks. Could it have been a condor? We don’t know but we left anyways.
Soon after returning to Maryland I awoke to what felt like talons piercing my into my scull. I was suddenly convinced that that the bird woman was not a myth, but that she actually exists. While I never saw her, I knew exactly who was visiting me.”
Tales of heartache and woe abound in the southern Appalachians where poverty and isolation have made life hard for the people who’ve managed to make a living in these hills. One such story documents how homesteader Matson Hutchinson lost his daughter Mary to tuberculosis in the late 1800s. But her cries are said to live on. People visiting the spot where the home once stood claim to have heard sounds of suffering from an invisible young girl.
The 1.2-mile Ghost House Trail loop also visits the family cemetery, which has given rise to even more ghost stories. Some hikers claim that their photos of the tilting headstones (dating from 1907 to 1929) included the occupants’ spirit shapes standing behind the markers. Should those not appear in your snapshots, search instead for a man in gray pants and a red flannel shirt (the apparition of Mason Hutchinson) who’s rumored to appear throughout the woods where he once worked.
Camp Lulu is one of the most haunted hiking trails in Texas, and it’s easy to see why. This abandoned girls’ camp has been the location of a number of tragedies involving camper deaths. One of the counselors murdered a camper here—and rumor has it that local gangs used this area as a killing field at one point.
Since then, hikers have heard children playing and toys move around by themselves.
Nobody really knows what happened to 4-year-old Ottie Cline Powell on Bluff Mountain, but a marker on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia designates the spot where the poor child’s body was found, months after he disappeared in November 1891, on the high peak of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
It is said that Ottie and his classmates set out into the woods looking for firewood and he became lost. Ottie panicked and made a 7-mile climb over rocks, hedges and cliffs to the high peak, before succumbing to fatigue and freezing temperatures.
Since then, hikers and campers have reported feelings of an eerie presence near the site where Ottie was found, as well as sightings of a little boy in the area around Punchbowl Shelter, about 1.6 miles away.
Olympic National Park is a magnet for people who love beautiful waterfalls and fascinating glimpses at undisturbed nature scenes. It is also home to a very haunted hiking trails.
Spruce Railroad Trail is 8-miles long beautiful trail that leads to an overlook of a nice lake. But it is also said to be haunted and quite possibly cursed.
Rumor has it that after a woman known as Hallie Latham Illingworth was killed by her husband here, a strange vibe has taken over the trail. To this day, hikers claim to see a woman wandering around near the lake, only to vanish in front of their eyes.
Do you have a haunted hike story? I’d love to hear it.