Family-Friendly Spooky Halloween Trails

Adventure Camping Hiking Location Guides Outdoor Activities Road Trip By Emily Leikam

With crisp air and forests ablaze with color, fall is the perfect season for a festive outing. What better place to celebrate the spirit (or spirits) of Halloween than out in nature, especially when it’s on a trail with a wickedly haunted past?

Gather the family, and find the perfect spot for some haunted hiking and eerie storytelling. While offering spectacular scenery, these trails also offer spooktacular history, making them the perfect places to explore in late fall. Whether you’re interested in taking your family to a trail steeped in spirited history or going for a more Halloween-themed hike, check out this list of enchanting trails from coast to coast. 

Ghost Walk Sign
Are you ready for spooky season? Photo by: chrisdorney.

WEST COAST

Sand Island Marine Park, OR

Why not take a trip to a beautiful and secluded island sitting in the middle of the Columbia River? Sand Island is near the town of St. Helens, which was the filming location of the famous “Halloweentown” movie series. St. Helens celebrates the entire month of October with festivities, haunted tours, costume contests, and anything else involving this special time of the month. 

Sand Island Marine Park is a quick 6-minute drive from the center of town and offers short, family-friendly hiking trails with incredible views of Mount St. Helens and Mt. Hood. After hiking, reserve a spot to camp for the night at Sand Island Campground.

Iron Goat Trail, WA

Iron Goat Trail is an abandoned road bed that was once used for the Great Northern Railway in the early 1900s. The site of a horrific 1910 avalanche that took two trains off the tracks and nearly killed 100 people, hikers have reported hearing voices, cries, and other eerie sounds along the trail. The Tye Creek crash site in Wellington is now a ghost town. 

Although there have been reports of spooky sounds, the trail offers beautiful views of mountains, waterfalls, wilderness, and wildflowers. You will need to purchase a Recreation Pass to use the trail; it can be obtained from the U.S. Forest Service’s website

Spruce Railroad Trail, WA

You’ve probably heard about the spectacular beauty located within Olympic National Park, but have you heard of the spooky story associated with this area? The ghostly sights and sounds of the “Lady of the Lake” are well known along the Spruce Railroad Trail. This is an amazingly scenic and family-friendly trail along expansive Lake Crescent, but don’t be fooled by all the beauty! In 1940, three years after disappearing, the body of a young woman surfaced from the depths of the lake. She had been murdered by her husband and her spirit is thought to haunt the area to this day.

Wooden walking bridge into the forest
Iron Goat Trail, Washington. Photo by: Lydia.

Bodie, CA

If you’re interested in taking the kiddos to explore and hike around an abandoned gold-mining town, Bodie is the place for you. A ghost town in eastern California, Bodie was once a booming gold-mining town in the 1800s. In 1962, Bodie became a Historic Park. Today, you can explore more than 100 remaining buildings of California’s official state gold rush ghost town. You never know what (or who) you might encounter hiking through Bodie.

Abandoned City
The ghost town of Bodie, California. Photo by: kenzos.

Pumpkin Rock Trail, CA

This hike may be a bit more entertaining rather than spooky, but who wouldn’t want to see a giant boulder painted as a jack-o’-lantern this Halloween? Pumpkin Rock Trail is a simple 1.7-mile loop in Norco, California, and offers sweeping views of distant hills as you hike up to one of the largest “pumpkins” your kids will ever see.

Chinualna Falls, CA

An eight-and-a-half-mile climb to Chilnualna Falls in Yosemite National Park travels alongside Grouse Lake. Local lore claims that a young child from an indigenous tribe perished in Grouse Lake's waters. According to reports, some hikers can hear the boy's cries as he drowns, and anyone who walks into the river to try to save him also perishes. The hike, while somewhat strenuous, is absolutely beautiful. But the stories make this location a spooky place to explore. 

WEST

Lost Dutchman State Park, AZ

Lost Dutchman State Park, named after the famous lost gold mine, is located in the Sonoran Desert at the base of the Superstition Mountains about 40 miles east of Phoenix. From the park, several routes go into the Superstition Mountain Wilderness and the adjoining Tonto National Forest. 

Take a walk along the Native Plant Trail, or trek to the top of the Flatiron via the difficult Siphon Draw Trail. View fascinating rock formations with ancient petroglyphs throughout the park. If you time your travels right, you could end up being surrounded by a blanket of fog, making for one spooky hike.

Desert With Cacti And Mountains In The Background
Superstition Mountains at Lost Dutchman State Park. Photo by: jomo333.

Transept Trail, AZ

One of the Grand Canyon's most well-known visitors is the Wailing Woman of Transept Trail. The Woman, as her name implies, is seen pacing the route while wearing a white garment decorated with blue flowers. According to local lore, a woman moved into the Grand Canyon Lodge in the 1920s with her husband and son. Her husband and son went out for a hike on what is now known as the Transept Trail to never return. It’s said that the woman has been hiking this trail ever since in search of her family. Along the North Rim, you can also visit eerie archaeological remains.

Buckskin Gulch, UT

Buckskin Gulch is the longest, deepest slot canyon in the United States, and possibly the world. This trail is located in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument along the Utah/Arizona border. The trail gives off an eerie and dark feel, especially since you’re encapsulated between giant red rocks. This can be an arduous hike and, at times, extremely dangerous. It's not recommended for very young or inexperienced hikers. Always check the weather before going, and never try to hike this trail when there's a chance of rain. 

Stormy Peak B-17 Crash Site, CO

The B-17 crash site is the remains of a WWII B-17 bomber that crashed while en route from South Dakota to Denver in 1943, leaving eight dead. Deep in the forest of Pingree Park, about 40 miles outside of Fort Collins, the wreckage has attracted history buffs and hikers alike. This spot makes for a great history lesson, as well as a spooky ghost story, as many have claimed to hear eerie voices coming from the site.

Granite, MT

Granite was once the location of the world's most successful silver mine, and 3,000 miners lived there during its height in the late 1800s. Although the mine is long closed and the town is deserted, it's still a fascinating spot. Investigate the unsettling ruins of the past, go hiking nearby, and learn about the legends of Montana's mining history. Would you really be astonished to discover ghosts of miners wandering around the remains of the ancient Union Hall despite the fact that no one (at least no one alive) currently calls Granite home?

Path Through The Canyon
Buckskin Gulch Slot Canyon, Utah. Photo by: Foto-Jagla.De.

SOUTH

Big Bend National Park, TX

It’s creepy enough that the entire area is a haven for bats (appropriate critters for Halloween season), but Big Bend National Park is also one of the least-visited national parks in the U.S., making visitors feel a sense of eerie isolation. Because it is so remote, it can get quite dark at night, making it even scarier. Fall is one of the best times to visit. The weather is cooler, the scenery is beautiful and there are hundreds of desert and mountain trails to explore … just don’t get lost in the dark!

Cočorful Sunset at Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park, Texas. Photo by: Dfikar.

Jack O’Lantern Spectacular, KY

The great pumpkin trail in Louisville, Kentucky attracts Halloween fans from all around the country. The Jack O’Lantern Spectacular consists of an illuminated path of over 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins for all to enjoy. The artwork is nothing short of magical and the trail will set the Halloween mood for the entire family.

Mammoth Cave, KY

Mammoth Cave is the world's longest cave system, yet it may also be the most haunted, with over 150 reported paranormal encounters. The cave was used as a TB treatment center for a short time, and ghostly coughing may still be heard at Corpse Rock, where patients' remains were deposited while awaiting burial.

Ghost House Trail, TN

The Ghost House Trail, located in Big Ridge State Park, is the perfect spot for a creepy and reportedly haunted trek. Make a stop at the Norton Cemetery along your hike and pay respects to the sunken grave of Maston Hutchinson, who some think is responsible for strange occurrences on the trail. Continue down the trail towards Big Valley and make a stop at the remnants of the famous Ghost House, Maston's home that is thought to be haunted.

pumpkin lanterns hanging on the trees
Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, Kentucky. Photo by: Erin Mc.

MIDWEST

Thief River Falls, MN

Take a hike on Dead Man’s Trail, an unpaved path that leads through the woods and alongside Red Lake River by L.B. Hartz Park, and listen for the eerie cries of despair. Be on the lookout for the ghost of a Native American woman who haunts the area as she searches for her baby that was swept away by the river so many years ago. This hike, especially when done at night, comes with an eerie silence. Pair that with the nocturnal critters that roam the woods, and it's no wonder people find it creepy. But if there really is a ghost haunting Dead Man's Trail, those animals are the least of your worries!

Military Ridge State Trail, WI

Wisconsin’s most famous ghost allegedly haunts a segment of the Military Ridge State Trail. The Ridgeway Phantom has been scaring travelers on what used to be the famous Ridge Road since the 1840s and, if you listen carefully, you’ll hear it howl in the chilly night air. If you want a spookier adventure before hitting the trail, visit the Eastside Cemetery (if you dare). You’ll find headstones dating to the 19th century, and possibly ghostly apparitions connected to those headstones!

Seul Choix Point Lighthouse, MI

The Seul Choix Point Lighthouse near Gulliver, Michigan, overlooks a treacherous stretch of Lake Michigan, but that’s not all that’s scary about this area. Hike the meandering lakeside trails surrounding the lighthouse, and you might hear the voice of one of the many fishermen or sailors who lost their lives nearby. Or, if you smell cigar smoke, it could be the ghost of Captain Joseph Willie Townsend, who was the former lighthouse keeper. 

Aerial view of Seul Choix Pointe in Michigan upper peninsula with historic light house in the middle
Seul Choix Pointe, Michigan. Photo by: snehit photo.

EAST

Bloody Lane Trail, MD

The site of the bloodiest day of the Civil War, the Bloody Lane Trail is a somber reminder of the bitter battle. The Battle of Antietam ended with nearly 23,000 killed or wounded. Today you can hike this “once-corpse-choked” 1.6-mile trail. It's a ghostly trek where visitors have reported hearing the rattle of guns and marching drums, chanting and singing voices, and smelling gunpowder. It’s an awe-inspiring walk through history.

Sleepy Hollow, NY

Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is one of the eeriest American ghost stories, so a Halloween hike wouldn’t be complete without wandering the village of Sleepy Hollow on the east banks of the Hudson River. Tap into your inner Ichabod Crane on a dusk walk through the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where Irving is buried. Just be on the lookout for the headless horseman!

Trees Beside Graveyard During Day
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Photo by: Chris Boese.

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, NY

Every late fall, the cities of Hudson Valley and Long Island create a spooktacular family-friendly walk through over 7,000 carved pumpkins designed and hand-carved by artists. Take the kids on a stroll through stunningly lit pumpkins that are all synchronized to music.

The Great Jack-O-Lantern Blaze
The Great Jack-O-Lantern Blaze, New York. Photo by: SurFeRGiRL30.

The Long Path, NY

The Long Path is a stretch of hiking that spans more than 350 miles from New York to Albany, but the creepiest part is in Rockland County, near Thiells. Here, you’ll eventually pass Letchworth Village Cemetery. Letchworth was a mental institution built in 1911 that mostly housed children. Hundreds of anonymous grave markers note those children’s final resting places, giving the entire area a grim atmosphere and a haunted feel.

The Haunted Trail, NC

The Haunted Trail, located in Asheville, NC, is a kid-friendly Halloween event that occurs every weekend during October. Along the trail, you’ll encounter spooky sites and sounds with actors in monster costumes. The event doesn’t involve any gore or contact and is specifically aimed at children ages 3-12. The Haunted Trail is a fun and only slightly spooky way to spend an evening in Asheville with the family. 

Bennington Triangle, VT

Vermont is a beautiful state for outdoor lovers, especially in the fall! But Vermont is also known for having one of the creepiest hikes in the country. The Bennington Triangle has been reported to be a haunted location by those who visit the area. It’s not only the location where five people disappeared in the 1940s and 50s, but many have claimed to encounter ghosts, Bigfoot, and even UFOs! The stretch of woodlands around Glastenbury Mountain includes the towns of Bennington, Woodford, and Shaftsbury, as well as the ghost towns of Somerset and Glastenbury.

Road Bettween Trees
Find the perfect spot for some haunted hiking. Photo by: Andrew Neel.

Happy Haunted Trails to You

These are just some of the spooky trails you can find all around the country. Some are meant to be experienced just during Halloween season, but others can give your family the creeps all year long! They all provide spectacular scenery, but they also come with spooktacular legends, ghost stories, or a haunted history that make them an even more exhilarating trek. So take the family out for an eerie day hike or even a thriller of a weekend camping trip, but beware … you may bring home a ghost or two as a souvenir!

Featured image by: Joshua Bousel.


pumpkin lanterns
Emily Leikam
Emily is an avid traveler and has been all around the world from Alaska and Iceland to Peru and Bali. Her home base is Nashville, TN and when not traveling you can find her hiking, practicing yoga or cooking/baking!