Adventure seekers find thrills of a different variety this season, thanks to certain Washington State trails and sites that come along with eerie folklore and haunting backstories. Whether you’ve come for the exercise, the fresh air or the chill-accompanied adrenaline rush, you'll appreciate our list of destinations designed to get you in the spooky holiday spirit.
Things get spooky on certain Washington trails — Photo courtesy of Craig Roman/Visit Rainier
Fairfax Ghost Town
If you're intrigued by abandoned towns, visit Fairfax, located in the Carbon River Valley outside of Mount Rainier National Park. A thriving mining hub in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the town went from boom to bust in less than 20 years, leaving it completely deserted by 1941. This region offers an easy, two-mile roundtrip hike on which to spy relics of the past, like the remnants of a swimming pool that once bustled inside the town schoolhouse.
The Mysterious Mima Mounds
Just south of Olympia, outdoorsy folks find the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve (NAP), established in 1976 to protect rare examples of mima mound landforms and surrounding Puget prairie grasslands. These intriguing natural phenomena–four- to six-foot-high mounds often described as lunar-esque–can be viewed by visitors enjoying the 2.75-mile trail that loops around the 445-acre preserve.
Mclane Creek, Capitol Forest
Beloved rock legend Kurt Cobain grew up in Aberdeen near Olympia; his ashes have been scattered at McLane Creek, located at the base of Capitol Forest. Hikers can complete an easy walk on a 1.1-mile outer loop and a 0.3-mile connector trail that begins by skirting a large beaver pond. The main trail leads visitors into a dark, gloomy forest marked by cedar, hemlock, giant maples and devil's club.
Melmont Ghost Town
Near Fairfax, find Melmont, another former mining HQ-turned-ghost town. Wander the nearly four-mile roundtrip trail to discover signs of life from an era past–mossy walls and shed structures once used by the Northern Pacific Railway company workers.
The Hoh Rainforest perfectly lends itself to spooky tales — Photo courtesy of Corinne Whiting
Hoh Rainforest Trail
In the land of Sasquatch sightings and Twilight vampire fame, travel anywhere between one and 35 miles throughout this beautiful, fog-drenched rainforest that rules the Olympic Peninsula. A cumulative annual precipitation of 140 to 170 inches (or 12 to 14 feet!) brings a bounty of mosses, mushrooms and other fantastical elements–creating a perfect setting in which mythical creatures might just roam...
Juanita Beach Park
Explore Kirkland's Juanita Beach Park and a 2.1-mile out-and-back walk at nearby Juanita Bay Park. The first residents of Juanita Bay belonged to the Duwamish tribe; smallpox killed many of the natives in the mid-19th century, and those who remained were relocated to reservations. In 1870, logger Martin Hubbard settled the area known today as Juanita; he drowned in Lake Washington in May 1887.
Iron Goat Trail, Central Cascades
In Washington’s Central Cascades, enjoy an easy six-mile roundtrip stroll along a former railroad grade. The hike keeps a high spook factor with old, decaying tunnels, railroad equipment and reminders of an 1910 avalanche that swept away two trains and killed nearly 100 people.
Many claim this abandoned fort near Port Townsend to be one of the most haunted sites in the state. Fort Worden's 434-acre state park opened in 1973; since then, spirits have allegedly made their presence known in various ways. The property features 12 miles of beach and forest trails, a lighthouse and dark and spooky bunkers, great spaces for daredevils to explore by flashlight.
Coal Creek Trail
Head to Cougar Mountain's Red Town Trailhead near Bellevue. Along your walk (about 1.25 miles, one way), discover haunting artifacts left behind by the miners who once worked on this land.
Lake Crescent, Olympic Peninsula
Pristine Lake Crescent lies about 18 miles west of Port Angeles, nestled in the northern foothills of the Olympic Mountains. In 1937, a woman went missing near Lake Crescent, believed to be murdered and found in the lake three years later; decades later, legends of hauntings still linger among locals. Lake Crescent boasts several hiking trails, some of which climb the surrounding mountains, while others explore surrounding lowland forests and creeks.