The 8 Spookiest-Sounding Hikes in Pennsylvania

Graffiti inside the northern nuclear jet engine bunker in the Quehanna Wild Area.

Hell’s Hollow Falls. Shades of Death Trail. Abandoned munitions bunkers. Deserted superhighways. Ghost towns.

Approaching the abandoned Sideling Hill Tunnel from the east.
Approaching the abandoned Sideling Hill Tunnel from the east.

Forget about fake haunted houses and characters in Halloween costumes.

Doorway to Alvira bunker number 5.
Doorway to Alvira bunker number 5.

Here are 8 REAL spooky-sounding hikes you can take in Pennsylvania!

Legal Disclaimer: By voluntarily exploring these locations, YOU assume the risk of any personal injury or damage to personal property, and shall not hold the author liable for any injuries, loss, or damages that may occur while visiting these locations.


1. The Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Do you dare step foot into one of the two ominous-looking, unlit tunnels along the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike?!

Interior of the Sideling Hill Tunnel on the abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Interior of the Sideling Hill Tunnel on the abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike.

This 13 mile-long hiking and biking trail in Bedford and Fulton counties gives off a serous post-apocalyptic vibe, and certainly deserves a spot on any list of Pennsylvania’s spookiest hikes.

Office inside the Sideling Hill Tunnel in Fulton County.
Office inside the Sideling Hill Tunnel along the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike.

From the foreboding tunnels to the long stretches of eerily-silent highway in between, the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives.

Bicycling the Abandoned PA Turnpike in September 2020.
Bicycling the Abandoned PA Turnpike in September 2020.

2. The Abandoned Alvira Bunkers

The abandoned Alvira bunkers in Union County are literally built on top of a ghost town – how’s that for spooky?!

Inside one of the abandoned Alvira bunkers.
Inside one of the 149 abandoned munitions bunkers at Alvira.

In 1942 the US government used the courts and eminent domain to force the residents of Alvira to sell their land and homes, so that the town could be leveled and converted into a TNT factory and munitions storage facility for the war effort.

But less than a year after the Pennsylvania Ordnance Works opened, it was shut down and eventually abandoned.

Sign at the site of Alvira and the abandoned munitions bunkers in Union County PA
Sign at the site of Alvira and the abandoned munitions bunkers in Union County

All that remains of the town now are the cemeteries, the remnants of roads, and 149 concrete bunkers that were built to store TNT.

Entrance to one of the bunkers on State Game Lands 252 along Alvira Road.
Entrance to one of the bunkers on State Game Lands 252 along Alvira Road.

Wandering the abandoned, overgrown roads of Alvira gives you a disquieting feeling that you’re not alone.

Remnants of a road through the Alvira bunkers on State Game Lands 252.
Remnants of a road through the Alvira bunkers on State Game Lands 252.

And of course the cemeteries are a reminder that some of the original residents really are still here, if only in spirit.

Old Alvira cemetery on State Game Lands 252.
Old Alvira cemetery on State Game Lands 252.

The abandoned Alvira bunkers on State Game Lands 252 are another deserving member of the spookiest hikes in PA club!

View from the back of one of the abandoned Alvira bunkers.
View from the back of one of the abandoned Alvira bunkers.

3. The Abandoned Nuclear Jet Engine Bunkers

In something right out of a James Bond flick, the secretive nuclear jet engine testing bunkers in Cameron County were originally built with intentions to develop a Cold War super-weapon – jet-powered fighter planes and bombers that never needed to land for refueling!

Abandoned nuclear jet engine testing bunker entrance.
Entrance to one of the jet engine testing bunkers.

By 1960, the project had been scrapped and the testing area abandoned.

Now all that remains where scientists once worked are stark concrete walls, creaky steel doors, and 60 years worth of graffiti.

Interior of the northern nuclear jet engine testing bunker in the Quehanna Wild Area.
Interior of the northern nuclear jet engine testing bunker in the Quehanna Wild Area.

Time and the Earth are slowly swallowing up the abandoned nuclear jest engine testing bunkers in the Quehanna Wild Area, only adding to the grim and oddly-bizarre vibe this short hike gives off.

The southern Curtiss-Wright nuclear jet engine testing bunker in the Quehanna Wild Area.
The southern Curtiss-Wright nuclear jet engine testing bunker in the Quehanna Wild Area.

4. Hell’s Hollow Trail

Despite the spooky-sounding name, the Hell’s Hollow Trail at McConnells Mill State Park is short, mostly flat, and leads to a very heavenly scene.

When visiting Hell's Hollow Falls on a snowy day it is often surrounded by ice and snow as it is in this photo.
Hell’s Hollow Falls surrounded by ice and snow on a March morning.

The name Hell’s Hollow refers to the limestone kiln that once operated in the hollow near the falls, giving off a foul odor, belching smoke, and producing an ominous red glow as limestone was burned in the kiln to produce lime.

Looking into the lime kiln on the side of Hell's Hollow Falls from the bottom opening in the kiln.
Looking into the lime kiln on the side of Hell’s Hollow Falls from the bottom opening in the kiln.

Today the only thing scary about the Hell’s Hollow Trail is the name itself – the hike itself is quite pleasant!

The author at Hell's Hollow Falls.
The author at Hell’s Hollow Falls.

5. Shades of Death Trail

One of the scariest-sounding hikes in all of Pennsylvania, the Shades of Death Trail is actually a peaceful stream-side hike with several idyllic scenes along the way.

Shades of Death Trailhead at Hickory Run State Park
Shades of Death Trailhead at Hickory Run State Park

The highlight of the Shades of Death Trail at Hickory Run State Park is Stametz Dam, a man-made spillway that looks more like a graceful waterfall.

Stametz Dam Spillway along the Shades of Death Trail at Hickory Run State Park
Stametz Dam Spillway along the Shades of Death Trail at Hickory Run State Park

The most frightening thing about the Shades of Death trail is trying to find a parking spot on a summer weekend – the hike itself is a sheer pleasure!

Stametz Dam at Hickory Run State Park
Stametz Dam along the Shades of Death Trail at Hickory Run State Park

6. The Ghost Town of Scotia

On the outskirts of State College in Centre County lies the remains of the ghost town of Scotia.

View from above of the ore washer remains at Scotia.
Remains of the ghost town of Scotia.

This iron-mining boomtown prospered for nearly 30 years, then disappeared as the quantity and quality of iron ore dried up, leaving the ruins to be reabsorbed by what is now State Game Lands 176.

The ruins of Scotia are a popular destination for hikers and mountain bikers near State College.
The ruins of Scotia are a popular destination for hikers and mountain bikers near State College.

Scotia and the area around it is supposedly haunted by the ghost of confessed murderer Bert Delige, the last person publicly hanged in Centre County and buried in an unmarked grave nearby.

A rendering of what the Black Ghost of Scotia is rumored to look like.
A rendering of what the Black Ghost of Scotia is rumored to look like.

The so-called “Black Ghost of Scotia” is rumored to be most active around the anniversary of his hanging, which occured on April 25th, 1911.


7. The Abandoned Cresson State Prison

The massive, decommissioned Cresson State Prison complex in Cambria County is one of the spookiest places I’ve ever personally explored!

Natural light illumintaes a cell block at the abandoned Cresson State Prison in Cambria County.
Natural light illuminates a cell block at the abandoned Cresson State Prison in Cambria County.

And now thanks to new, private ownership, you can LEGALLY explore this maze of buildings, some dating back more than 100 years.

Aerial view of the abandoned Cresson State Prison complex.
Aerial view of the abandoned Cresson State Prison complex.

With dozens of buildings to see, spread out over acres of land, a visit to the abandoned Cresson State Prison makes for a fantastic adventure.

Interior of Grace Chapel at the abandoned Cresson State Prison.
Interior of Grace Chapel at the abandoned Cresson State Prison.

8. The Austin Dam Ruins

When the Austin Dam in Potter County burst on September 30, 1911, it lead to massive devastation downstream and the deaths of at least 78 people.

Freeman Run passing through the ruins of Austin Dam in Potter County PA.
Freeman Run passing through the ruins of Austin Dam in Potter County.

Today, 110 years later, the ruins of Austin Dam still stand in a park dedicated to the memory of those victims.

Memorial to the victims of the Austin Dam Flood at Austin Dam Memorial Park.
Memorial to the victims of the Austin Dam Flood at Austin Dam Memorial Park.

Austin Dam Memorial Park is a beautiful but sobering destination to explore, with trails through the towering ruins of the dam providing an up-close look at what caused the second-deadliest flood disaster in Pennsylvania history.

Remains of Austin Dam in Potter County PA
Remains of Austin Dam in Potter County.

A hiking trail leads from the ruins of the dam to the ruins of the Bayless paper mill a mile downstream, the reason the dam was built in the first place.

View of the abandoned Bayless Paper Mill from Route 872.
View of the abandoned Bayless Paper Mill from Route 872.

The now-abandoned paper mill was rebuilt after the flood in 1911, but ultimately succumbed to fire in 1944.

Holes in the floor and ceiling at the Bayless Paper Mill ruins in Potter County.
Holes in the floor and ceiling at the Bayless Paper Mill ruins in Potter County.

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Rusty Glessner is an award-winning photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.

4 COMMENTS

    • Hickory Run State Park. The link in the write-up (the blue text link) takes you to a more detailed description of the trail.

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