There’s really two kinds of fear. First, there’s the cliff-hanging, adrenaline-boosting ‘please-God-don’t-let-me-fall’ kind of terror that every outdoor explorer has probably experienced at some point.
And then there’s the other kind of fear. It’s more subtle; it creeps up slowly, tightening your chest and sending shivers through your bones. It’s the stuff Richard Matheson books are made of. And in today’s shock-focused culture, this feeling is increasingly hard to come by.
I think that’s too bad because a little bit of heart-pounding fear (whether it’s the extreme in-yer-face type or not) is a beautiful thing. It helps you feel more alive.
So if you’re aiming to have a supernatural experience this Halloween, check out these 4 haunted hiking trails in North America.
Lost boy haunts hiking camp
Appalachian Trail: Bluff Mountain, Virginia
In November of 1891, 4-year-old Ottie Cline Powell disappeared after leaving a nearby schoolhouse to help gather firewood in the forest. Five months later, a hunter discovered his body near Bluff Mountain. A plaque still marks the spot where little Ottie was found. No one knows exactly what happened to the boy.
Over the years, hikers have reported seeing a child while camping at the Punchbowl Shelter, located 1.6 miles from where Ottie’s body was found. And apparently, he’s quite the rascal. Spend the night in this shelter and the spirit of the toddler might cause enough disturbances to ruin your sleep.
Hit the trail & meet the Devil
Batona Trail, New Jersey Pinelands
They call it the New Jersey Devil: Part-kangaroo, part-bat and with the head of a dog. Oh, and horns and a forked tail too. Yep, pretty ugly. Since the 1700s, there has apparently been thousands of reported sightings of this creature.
The Jersey Devil is said to roam the marshes and locals have reported hearing its screams late at night. If you’d like to catch a glimpse of this nasty SOB, hiking the 49-mile Batona Trail is your best bet.
Spirit lights continue to baffle
Brown Mountain, North Carolina
Native Americans and pioneers have reported seeing glowing ‘spirit’ lights for about 800 years in this area. In fact, the evidence mounted so much that the U.S. Geologic Survey investigated in 1913 and 1922 – they said the lights were from cars, but couldn’t explain why folks reported seeing them long before vehicles were invented.
Legend has it that the lights are the spirits of dead warriors who roam the woods. The best spots for seeing the Brown Mountain Lights are at nearby overlooks. Try Lost Cove Cliffs on the Blue Ridge Parkway or Wiseman’s View on Linville Mountain. There are trails on Brown Mountain as well, but they’re more suited to off-road vehicles.
Say hello to the fish-man
Lake Minnewanka, Alberta
According to ancient legends, a half-man, half-fish creature lives within the depths of Lake Minnewanka in stunning Banff National Park. And the beast has a craving for human flesh.
Minnewanka means ‘Lake of the Water Spirit’, but its original name translated to ‘Cannibal Lake.’ The Canadian government changed it in 1888 for obvious PR reasons. Although there haven’t been many recent sightings of the fish-man, you can scope the area out for yourself by hiking a 12-mile trail that circles the lake.
I missed a few, didn’t I?
This certainly isn’t a complete list of haunted hiking trails. I know there are plenty of other places out there that just might scare the pack off an unsuspecting trekker. So if you know of a haunted trail that didn’t make the list, please mention it in the comments below.
And if a pissed-off Jersey Devil hasn’t found me yet, I’ll stick it on next year’s list.
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