With the earth veiled in lush colors mixed with hues of red, orange, and brown, autumn can quickly transform a friendly trail into a strange, sinister-looking path. Trails that are linked to some gruesome deaths and massacres not to mention centuries-old tales grieving spirits, haunted forests, supernatural beings, and eerie and inexplicable events, are particularly fun (or scary!) to visit this time of year. These stories, coupled with gnarled trees, torn-down fences, and strange rock formations, make them unnerving places to be during fall.
To spice up your autumn hike, we have uncovered six blood-curdling and unnerving trails that you can add to your Halloween bucket list.
Bloody Lane Trail: Antietam National Battlefield, Maryland
If you’re interested in historical bloodshed, then you might find Bloody Lane Trail at Antietam National Battlefield interesting. This ground lay witness to about 23,000 deaths, injuries, and missing persons during the September 17, 1862 bloodbath. According to historian/novelist Shelby Foote, the place earned its dreadful name “Bloody Lane,” because of the thousands of bodies that filled the whole stretch of the road.
If you want to explore this 1.6-mile trail, be sure to keep your ears open for the cries of anguished fallen soldiers, marching drums, rattling guns, and even chanting. Sometimes, hikers can smell the aroma of gunpowder that has long filled the air.
Long Path, New York
Follow the trail to Long Path in Rockland County, and it will lead you to Letchworth Village Cemetery, which serves as a resting place for the residents of a nearby mental institution (Letchworth Village).
Although the village was built for the epileptic and feeble-minded, most of its residents were children. According to stories, the residents, particularly the children, were subjected to clinical drug trials for the polio vaccine. There is also evidence that the asylum patients were victims of abuse and extreme neglect.
Taking a closer look at the tombstones in the Letchworth Village Cemetery will give any hiker the creeps. Instead of the usual names, the T-shaped markers bear numbers that identify each patient. Although the hospital was shut down in 1996, many of its buildings and facilities remain intact.
Make sure to stay calm when you see shadows and hear eerie voices calling for help. They might be the restless souls of the victims of torture and abuse that are still suffering today.
Iron Goat Trail, Washington
Iron Goat Trail in Stevens Pass was the location of a train incident in which almost 100 people were killed, making it one of the worst railroad accidents in U.S. history.
In 1910, an avalanche knocked two trains off the tracks where these people died. After the incident, the Great Northern Railroad abandoned the tracks and built new routes. Hikers who visit the abandoned tunnels share stories of ear-piercing cries and screams around the site. If you want to explore the tunnels, remember that you’re not allowed to visit the tunnels since they’re on the verge of collapse.
Sleepy Hollow Walkabout, New York
One of the spookiest American folktales is the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Despite being a fictional character, the image of a Headless Horseman that roams the village of Sleepy Hollow is not that difficult to imagine. According to Washington Irving, this horseman was said to be the ghost of a Hessian soldier whose head was hit by a cannonball during one of the Revolutionary War battles.
Feeling brave? Go for a dusk walk through the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and the adjacent churchyard of the Old Dutch Burying Ground. Just be sure to stay alert and watch out for the hurling head of the horseman that might zoom past you.
Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
Aside from being the longest-known cave system on the planet, Mammoth Cave also records more than 150 paranormal observations. This haunted cavern served as an underground sanitarium for patients suffering from tuberculosis. Some of its sections, particularly Corpse Rock, also served as resting grounds for the bodies of the patients who succumbed to death in the cave.
Aside from the loud coughing in the dark, visitors reportedly hear a man screaming for “Johnnie.” It was said to be the spirit of Floyd Collins, a promoter who died during a cave-in in 1925. His ghost is allegedly calling for his friend, Johnnie Gerald, who was known to be the last man to speak to Collins during the rescue effort.
Batona Trail, New Jersey
This 50-mile trail runs through the Pine Barrens in rural New Jersey, said to be home to the legendary Jersey Devil.
According to stories that date back to the 1700s, upon learning that she had her13th child, Mrs. Leeds cursed it by wishing it were the devil. The wish came true, and upon giving birth, the devil child killed its mother and went to the nearby swampland. Local folklore says that it has been terrorizing the residents of Pine Barrens ever since. Some claim that they have seen the Jersey Devil and heard its screams. Moreover, campers are also said to have been attacked by this monster in the middle of the night.
Have you braved these scary trails? Share your experiences in the comment section below!