If you thought haunted houses were a piece of cake, how about the paranormal? From horrific accidents to cold-blooded murders, lost ghosts lurk in spooky locations across the state. If you’re looking for a hair-raising scare, pack your ghost-hunting gear and head to these ten Colorado haunted hikes:
Gold Storage Road
Moderate, 14.3 mile loop
During the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, the “Short Line” railroad transported minerals and miners from Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek. Freight cars snaked through the mountains and through narrow, dark tunnels to reach their destination. The line was later opened to vehicle traffic, but in 1988 the third tunnel collapsed. According to urban legend, a school bus full of children was destroyed and killed in the incident. In recent years, visitors to the area have reported hearing children’s laughter and screams, and seeing small handprints on their fogged-up car windows.
Alta Ghost Town OHV Trail
Easy, 10 miles round trip
One of Colorado’s most famous ghost towns, Alta sits high in the San Juan Mountains. During its boom, the town swarmed with noisy, nouveau riche miners, but when the mill burned to the ground, the residents of Alta left their shacks to decay. The walls of some still stand, and in their windows you can see flickering candlelight and the shadows of those long forgotten.
Carter Lake Sundance Trail
Easy, 5.9 miles round trip
Carter Lake has some of the best camping near Denver and attracts many visitors in the summer. While it’s perfect for BBQs and lakeside fun, what’s floating along the shore may urge you to keep the kids close. Local legend has it that a man with the surname Bennet lived near the reservoir, but because of an unknown dispute he was shot by his neighbor. Recent wanderers have caught sight of his appearance, though his timid soul is quickly fading. Other encounters, perhaps more sinister, have resulted in visitors becoming trapped in the water. It’s safe to say that Carter Lake might not be one of the most peaceful places to paddle.
Black Forest loop
Easy 2.2 mile loop
You risk when you buy a cabin in the woods. Charming or undoubtedly haunted? Unfortunately for Steve Lee and his family, the latter was their new home. When they moved in in the early ’90s, they witnessed paranormal activity — flickering lights, footsteps on the roof, doors slamming, and a pungent, chemical smell. In October 1995, a crew from the paranormal show Sightings visited the home and captured similar disturbing events. A medium present during filming confirmed that several ghosts live on the property. You might come across a few in the aptly named Black Forest.
Woodglen Cycle Path
Easy, 1.5 miles round trip
Boys will be boys, their suburban parents probably shrugged. No one expected a prank to turn into a violent tragedy. Locked in a bathroom they called friends from, two teenagers burned to death in Woodglen Park. Since the incident in the 1980s, some visitors to the park have reported hearing the cries of the boys begging for help. Others have sensed their stalking presence and looked behind their shoulders to see no one there.
Village Walk, Red Rocks and Cherry Gulch Loop
Moderate, 6 mile loop
In the mid 18th century Mount Vernon was a busy depot serving miners on their way to Black Hawk and Central City. Now only Mount Vernon Cemetery remains. Located near Red Rocks Amphitheater and Dinosaur Ridge, it’s overlooked by trail runners and tourists alike on a daily basis. But a short side trail from Village Walk leads to the weathered tombstones and crosses. Only two graves are marked: Reverend IR Dean’s reads “I am at rest” and James H. Judy’s reads “Age 21 years 8 months 15 days”.
Glendale’s old stagecoach station
Easy, 1.8 miles round trip
One of Colorado’s spookiest spots, Old Glendale Stagecoach Station, is said to be haunted by the ghost of Kathleen Cooper. She stands in the shadows, colorless with gray skin, clad in a worn white wedding dress. According to legend, her soul awaits for her lover Julian LaSalle, a gold miner who was robbed and murdered on the way home. He won’t be returning to her, but she may welcome you on this haunted Colorado hike.
Oil Creek Tunnel Trail
Moderate, 4.4 miles round trip
Drive along the Pikes Peak Highway to reach the Elk Park Trailhead, a rare hiking area with a chilling past. Fueled by greed and hopes of getting rich, prospectors blew up the Oil Creek Tunnel in 1899. The incident resulted in the deaths of two miners, an unnecessary tragedy that resulted in no profit. Their restless spirits haunt the passageway and surrounding areas, which are littered with abandoned equipment and battered cabins.
Kokopelli Trail to Horsethief Bench
Moderate, 8 mile loop
From hiking to mountain biking to whitewater rafting and canyoning in Colorado, Horsethief Canyon is famous for its outdoor recreation. It’s also famous for its brutal murders: in the days of the Wild West, horse smugglers roamed the remote canyon, but in one fateful escapade, a local woman was trampled to death. Now, visitors get a glimpse of her wandering the desert landscape alone for eternity—unless you choose to join her.
Helen Hunt Falls
Easy, 0.1 miles round trip
You’ve heard of search and rescue missions in upstate Colorado, but rescues on a 0.1 mile hiking trail? This is a common occurrence at Helen Hunt Falls. Year after year, visitors slide and fall down the 35-foot cascade — and not all make it out alive. Though traffic is heavy during the day, at night hikers have heard strange voices that may belong to those whose lives were lost. If you’d rather not piss off the dead, check out these less spooky waterfalls near Denver instead.