Most of us love being scared, even just a little. We love the adrenaline rush, the exhilaration of reading a scary story and feeling our hair stand on end as we frantically pull the covers over our head and listen to every minuscule sound around us. But that’s still operating in the realm of safety. There’s no REAL danger behind stories.
There is, however, danger behind visiting places with violent histories…places where restless spirits lurk, waiting for innocent victims to enter their territory so they can take out their anger on all those who wronged them while they were still alive. There are plenty such places in Texas, and we’ve come up with a list of nine of the most sinister (inspired by these haunted hikes found by
Backpackerverse). Are you brave enough to pay them a visit?
1. Witch Mountain (Cedar Hill)
If you stand at the bottom of the mountain and gaze upward, you'll see the single light of a wooden cabin illuminating the darkness. The sight of it will remind you of every horror movie you've ever seen and make your hair stand on end. The rational part of your brain will tell you not to go investigate it, but of course, your curiosity gets the best of you. Upon climbing to the top, you'll come face to face with the abandoned, dilapidated barn...and three little girls. You'll try to talk to them, to ask them where their parents are, but the only response they give is a gesture motioning you to come closer. Will you listen?
2. White Rock Lake (Dallas)
This lake might be beautiful, but it has a somber history. One dark, stormy night in the early 1900s, a young woman was driving home from a party and decided to take a shortcut near the lake. She didn't see a particularly deep area of water until it was too late, and her car skidded out of control into the water. Her friend was able to escape before the vehicle was submerged, but she herself wasn't as fortunate. She drowned before help could arrive. Legend has it that if you drive on the very road her car spun out on, you'll see a lady in a white dress asking for a ride. If you decide to help her, beware: the last car in her memory is the one she died in, and she's very angry at her friend for not attempting to save her.
3. Mount Hope Cemetery (Anson)
Anson is one of several cities in Texas plagued by an unexplained phenomena known as "ghost lights." Years ago, according to locals, the son of a townswoman went missing. She herself died trekking through the bitter cold searching for him. Apparently, if you hike through this cemetery at night, you'll see a spectral orb weaving through the gravestones as if it's looking for something in particular. Is it the ghost of the little boy's mother trying to find his name in the hopes that a good Samaritan found his body and buried it? Maybe you'll find out for yourself if you visit.
4. Shafter Lake (Andrews)
This lake off Highway 385 just might be one of the most sinister places in Texas. A smallpox epidemic ravaged the town of Andrews in the early 1900s, killing most of its population. Those remaining were desperate for a cure so that they wouldn't meet the same awful demise, and were all too quick to accept advice from the town recluse who was presumed to be a witch. She gave them a recipe for an "antidote" of wild herbs which turned out to be a poisonous hallucinogen. Those who ingested it believed everyone else was out to get them, so they attacked other residents and gouged out their children's eyes. If you walk around the lake at night, you'll see the eyeless spirits of the children roaming the area in search of live souls with eyes to claim as their own. Will you be the next victim?
5. River Legacy Park (Euless)
The story of River Legacy Park is one of bloodshed and warfare. One of the trails here holds the somber memory of the hanging deaths of many Union soldiers by their Confederate rivals. They had to pass through a gate, which has been given the name "Hell's Gate," to reach the tree where their lives ended. Many visitors have reported feeling a heavy sadness laced with determination, like that of an Army man, on the very same trail. People have also claimed to have heard the sound of synchronized marching. This may not be a "scary" tale, per se, but you might have the opportunity to see men who fought and died for our freedom so long ago if you choose to visit this park.
6. "The Hills" (Falfurrias)
According to folklore, a woman accused of witchcraft was hung on top of a hill near Falfurrias centuries ago. Her dying words proclaimed her innocence, and she swore to get revenge on all those who doubted her. The executioners said they saw a dark shadow escape from her body after she was pronounced dead. Nobody believed them...that is, until they scaled the hill themselves and saw a malevolent figure perched in the tree where the witch was killed. They felt a tightening sensation around their neck, akin to that of a noose. It was then that they knew the witch and her dying promise were real.
7. Soldiers' Waterhole (Rochelle)
This waterhole has a story much like that of River Legacy Park. Back when Native Americans were still in charge of much of the Southern US, white soldiers were camped out near this bridge to protect the nearby women and children from the violent natives. In the dark of night, the Indians snuck into the camp and murdered everyone. People who hike near the water report hearing the cries of small children and even feel the wind whip in their ears as if arrows were flying right past their heads. Is it the spirits of the Native Americans trying to finish off anyone who dares to enter their territory?
8. Camp Lulu (Brownsville)
In its glory days, Camp Lulu was a summer camp for girls...until one of the counselors went crazy and killed all of them. You can still hear them laughing and playing if you hike through the camp's ruins. One hiker came across a decrepit cabin and claimed he saw a little girl peering out from one of the windows. Something compelled him to investigate, so he went inside the cabin only to discover a room full of dolls. He thought it was creepy, but not paranormal - until he turned around to leave and saw a doll sitting in a chair that was empty when he first entered. He fled the cabin immediately and didn't look back. Are you brave enough to confront the spirits of the murdered girls that have inhabited the dolls?
9. Bragg Road (Saratoga)
This is another ghost light location, and one I can personally vouch for. Every single time I've been here, a mysterious white light flies right past my head with no apparent source. Obviously it isn't a headlight. It could be swamp gas, but I've never known it to move so erratically. I truly believe it's the horseman who lost his head in a railroad accident many years ago using the light from his lantern to illuminate the darkness and search for his missing body part.