Virginia's Halloween Havens: Unveiling the Most Unique, Spooky & Strange Hikes in Virginia
Updated: Oct 9
Known for its rich history and diverse landscapes, Virginia is also home to some of the most peculiar and mysterious hiking trails! As Halloween approaches, why not trade the traditional haunted house experience for an adventure through the strange and supernatural wonders that Virginia has to offer? From ancient sandstone labyrinths to abandoned railroad tunnels, here's a guide to the most eerie and unusual hikes in the state.
Before you head out on any of these hikes, please make sure you are familiar with the principles of Leave no Trace! It is so important to make sure you are properly prepared and follow good outdoor etiquette. This includes things like staying on established trails to avoid damaging fragile vegetation, disposing of all waste (even food scraps) properly, and respecting wildlife. Take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints to keep our outdoor spaces beautiful for generations to come.
Strange & Unique Hikes in Virginia to Visit This Halloween
Compton Peak Trail - Shenandoah's Enchanted Basalt Columns
Dive into the heart of Shenandoah National Park and set out on the Compton Peak Trail. Here, you'll encounter basalt columns, silent witnesses to ancient lava flows from millions and millions of years ago. As you navigate through these natural wonders, imagine the whispers of the earth's history echoing through the stone pillars.
Blue Ridge Tunnel - Waynesboro's Time-Traveling Portal
Step back in time at the Blue Ridge Tunnel in Waynesboro, VA. Constructed in the 1850s and abandoned in 1944, this historic railroad tunnel recently reopened for recreational use in 2020. Wander through the dark passages, and who knows, you might catch a glimpse of the spirits that linger from the days of locomotives and coal-fired engines. Make sure you have a flashlight or a headlamp for this one! The tunnel is nearly a mile long and gets incredibly dark. There is also an entrance from Afton, VA, just know it is a bit more difficult of a hike.
Duncan Knob - Luray's Boulder Wonderland
Duncan Knob in Luray boasts a massive boulder field reminiscent of Devil's Marble Yard. As you traverse this rocky landscape, let your imagination run wild, conjuring tales of ancient giants playing games with colossal stones. Gaining roughly 1,000 feet of elevation in 1.5 miles, this hike can be a tough one!
Great Channels - Abingdon's Ancient Sandstone Labyrinth
Abingdon's Great Channels really take you on a journey through time. This ancient sandstone labyrinth, formed millions of years ago, invites hikers to explore its winding paths and mysterious formations. Who knows what secrets lie within the twists and turns of this geological masterpiece? It actually reminded me a bit of Jurassic Park! Please make sure to stay on established paths here and never carve into these ancient rocks.
Hazel Falls & Caves - Shenandoah's Waterfall Whispers
Discover the enchanting beauty of Shenandoah National Park's Hazel Falls & Caves. A series of shallow caves and a cascading waterfall create an otherworldly atmosphere. Perhaps the falls hold the key to unlocking the mysteries of the forest?
Dragon's Tooth - Catawba's Quartzite Monolith
Venture to Catawba to witness the marvel of Dragon's Tooth—a rock monolith crafted from Tuscarora quartzite. The tooth-shaped formation adds a touch of the mythical to your Halloween hike, as if guarding the secrets of the ancient landscape. This hike is one of the three Virginia Triple Crown peaks, and while it involves a bit of rock scrambling, it's a ton of fun!
Natural Bridge State Park - Nature's Limestone Masterpiece
Natural Bridge State Park unveils a 215-foot tall limestone gorge, naturally carved out by a creek. Feel the presence of ancient spirits as you stroll beneath this colossal bridge, wondering about the stories etched into the stone. If you look closely, it is said you can see where George Washington carved his initials into the bridge. There is some evidence to support this claim, but it has never been proven!
Natural Tunnel State Park - Duffield's Subterranean Railroad Adventure
Explore the Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield, where a huge naturally formed cave now serves as a railroad tunnel. It is 850 feet long and 10 stories (or 100 feet) high. The echoes of bygone train whistles may still resonate within these cavernous walls, creating an eerie ambiance. While the railroad used to serve passengers, it now just transports coal. At certain times of the year, you can join a tour through the tunnel itself. Even just viewing it from the mouth is amazing! There is also Lovers Leap- a vantage point that provides a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape that comes with a fascinating story of two forbidden lovers who together leapt from the highest point in the park.
Devil’s Bathtub - Nature's Mysterious Spa
Delve into the mysteries of Devil’s Bathtub, a naturally occurring "bathtub" nestled in the wilderness near Duffield, VA. Legend has it that the waters hold a mystical energy, offering a rejuvenating experience for those brave enough to take a dip. It more than likely gets its name due to the temperature of the water- so cold! I can attest that while the water is freezing, it feels pretty darn good on a warm day, so those legends may be true.
The Natural Chimneys - Mount Solon's Medieval Castle in Stone
Mount Solon's Natural Chimneys rise 120 feet, resembling a medieval castle made of natural limestone. Let your mind wander to a time when knights and dragons roamed, and perhaps catch a glimpse of the fantastical creatures that may still call this place home. Located just 20 minutes from Harrisonburg, this spot is worthy of a Halloween visit. There is absolutely no climbing on the rock formations!
First Landing State Park - Virginia Beach's Swampy Enigma
Head to Virginia Beach and explore the swampy areas on the bald cypress trail at First Landing State Park. The twisted trees and murky waters create an atmosphere that is both enchanting and eerie, perfect for a Halloween hike. During certain times of the year and with the right light conditions, you may even catch a glimpse of the rainbow swamp!
Bull Run Occoquan Trail - Clifton's Hydroelectric Haunts
Uncover the ruins of Virginia's first hydroelectric dam along the Bull Run Occoquan Trail in Clifton. The remnants of this historic structure offer a glimpse into the past, where the hum of machinery once echoed through the woods. Nature has since reclaimed what remains of the dam.
Stony Man Mountain - Luray's Mystic Overlook
Venture to Luray and ascend Stony Man Mountain for a mystical hiking experience. The summit offers a panoramic view of Shenandoah Valley, but as the sun sets and shadows dance across the landscape, the overlook takes on an otherworldly allure. The second-highest peak in Shenandoah, the name "Stony Man" refers to the rocky profile of a man that can be seen when viewing the mountain from below. I personally love the rocky outcrop descending from the summit that resembles a spine. It's a perfect haunt for the Halloween season.
Old Rag Mountain - Spine-Chilling Scrambles
For a spine-chilling adventure, tackle the rugged terrain of Old Rag Mountain. Known for its challenging scrambles and rocky outcrops, Old Rag's twisted paths lead you through a landscape that seems to come alive with mystery and intrigue. Named after the type of granite that makes up the mountain's exposed boulders, Old Rag is renowned for its stunning views and unique geological formations. With the wind howling through the crevices, it's easy to imagine the mountain telling tales of the generations that have passed through its rocky embrace. Make sure you have your day-use permit for this one! Required from March-November, you can purchase one for $1 on Recreation.gov.
Buzzard Rock - Sky-High Perch with a Haunting View
Buzzard Rock, perched high in the Massanutten Mountains near Front Royal, VA, offers a hauntingly beautiful panorama of the Shenandoah Valley. As you hike to the summit, surrounded by the rustling leaves and the distant calls of wildlife, it's easy to feel a connection to the spirits of the land. The sheer cliffs and expansive views create an ambiance that's both breathtaking and slightly eerie—perfect for a Halloween escapade. The spooky fog is not guaranteed, but if you climb up to this jutting rock formation after a rain storm, you just might catch it!
Kiptopeke State Park - Ghostly Fleet of Concrete Ships
For an eerie maritime twist to your Halloween adventure, head to Kiptopeke State Park. Here, the remnants of a ghostly fleet of concrete ships lay silently along the shore. Dating back to World War II, these hulking structures were once part of a bold experiment to create durable and inexpensive vessels. Now, weathered by time and tide, they stand as a haunting reminder of a bygone era. Explore the shoreline and let the whispers of the waves carry tales of wartime efforts and the spirits that may still wander among the skeletal remains.
As you set out on your Halloween-inspired hiking adventure through Virginia, from the ancient basalt columns of Compton Peak to the rocky spires of the Natural Chimneys, each trail promises a unique encounter with the strange and unusual. Whether you're drawn to the sandstone labyrinths, historic tunnels, or jutting rock formations, Virginia's Halloween havens invite you to step off the beaten path and embrace the magic that lingers within the state's diverse landscapes. So, throw on your costume of hiking gear, grab a flashlight, and immerse yourself in the spine-tingling tales that these trails have to offer. Happy haunting and hiking!