clock menu more-arrow no yes
A wall of a stone building in ill repair. A corridor runs through the center through an open doorway reaching light on the other side.
Northern State Hospital.
Shutterstock

10 spooky Washington State hikes to take this October

Hikes to ghost towns, cemeteries, and haunted places

View as Map
Northern State Hospital.
| Shutterstock

Fall is still very much hiking season around here, when the air cools to a less-strenuous temperature and the leaves turn colorful. But there’s another good reason to get out on the trails: It’s Halloween season—Spooktober!—and there are plenty of seasonally appropriate things to see on our trails. The region’s mining history has created many a ghost town, and our rich networks of trails take hikers through a few cemeteries, too.

Just remember to be respectful of the stories behind the abandoned places and any graves you may see along the way; you might even learn some fun new things about Washington State history. (And be careful around abandoned buildings and mineshafts, lest you become a ghost story yourself.)

Want more Spooktober hiking destinations? We suggest turning to the Washington Trails Association, which has its own suggestions for ghost towns and spooky places, and Exploring History in Your Hiking Boots.

Need more hiking ideas? Check out our maps of essential Seattle-area day hikes, transit-accessible hikes, and dog-friendly hikes for your next adventure.

Read More

1. Afterglow Vista

Copy Link
Afterglow Dr
Friday Harbor, WA 98250

This San Juan locale is the site of the family mausoleum for the McMillin family, who built Roche Harbor, originally a village but now a resort. It’s more of a walk than a hike; a 10-minute stroll through a cemetery will take you to the family’s ornate memorial, a table and chairs surrounded by Doric columns. Each chair contains a family member’s ashes. It’s supposed to be quite peaceful in its own way.

2. Northern State Hospital

Copy Link
Coyote Ln
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284

Northern State Hospital is one of the area’s most notorious haunted places. It started as grand as any early-20th-century sanitarium could, with an Olmstead Brothers-designed landscape and its own self-sustaining town structure, complete with a farm and bakery. But it was plagued by the terrifying treatments popular in that era, including transorbital lobotomies. The facility closed in the 1970s, and some buildings are still active facilities—but many of the older, abandoned buildings are part of the Northern State Recreation Area, including barns, milking shed, and cannery. Visitors can also (respectfully) explore the cemetery, which is the final resting place for about 1,500 patients. It’s a favorite spot of abandoned-place photographers.

3. Monte Cristo

Copy Link
Monte Cristo Way
Jordan Road-Canyon Creek, WA 98252

Off Barlow Pass, a trail leads to the remains of Monte Cristo, originally a gold and silver mining town founded in the 1890s but abandoned in 1907. It was a booming tourist destination until flooding washed out a bridge in the 1980s, and since then, hikers have had to ford a river to get to the town. A long toxic mineral cleanup process closed this trail for a while, but it’s back in commission—with the caveat that the water contains arsenic. Some people camp out here, but again: the arsenic.

Buildings left over from both its mining town days and its time as a resort are visible once hikers reach the townsite, as well as some mines.

4. Iron Goat Trail

Copy Link
Iron Goat Trail
Leavenworth, WA 98826
(360) 677-2414
Visit Website

Near Stevens Pass, part of the Iron Goat Trail will take you to Wellington, a ghost town with a tragic history. At the time, it was the site of a railroad depot, and on a snowy day in 1910, an avalanche hit the depot along with two trains stalled by a blizzard, killing 96 people (only 23 survived). The town was swiftly renamed to Tye, but was still abandoned in 1929 after its railroad depot became obsolete. The trail heads through some of the town’s still-standing snow sheds.

5. Rattlesnake Mountain Trail

Copy Link
37580 Winery Rd
Snoqualmie, WA 98065

Rattlesnake Lake hides a secret underneath: the remains of Moncton, the town it flooded out of existence in 1915 after the construction of Masonry Dam. Fall, according to the Washington Trails Association, is actually the ideal time to view the ghost town—the water is low enough to catch a glimpse of tree stumps, foundations, and even a fireplace.

6. Franklin Ghost Town

Copy Link

This south King County hike takes you through a former mining company town—the site of one of Washington’s worst mining disasters in 1894, when 37 miners suffocated after a fire in the mine that appeared to have been started intentionally. Like Wellington, it chugged on for a little while after the disaster, but by the 1920s, the town was largely abandoned. Some remnants still remain, like a mining cart, a grate-covered mine shaft, a cemetery.

7. Liberty

Copy Link

Liberty was founded way back in 1867 after gold was found in the surrounding creeks. It’s only partially a ghost town; while the population dwindled after the gold did, a few people still live there (be respectful!). But a lot of historic buildings remain, added to the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970s. There’s no official trail, but as the WTA notes, there’s lots of big, open space to explore.

8. Copper City

Copy Link

Like other Washington ghost towns, Copper City was also a mining town (guess what was being mined!) before it was abandoned. And while things looked promising at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, things ultimately didn’t go quite as planned, and the mining operation’s profitability didn’t last. The place was abandoned in 1948, but hikers can still view a collapsed bunkhouse and what’s left of an ore mill. Exploring History in Your Hiking Boots has a lot of detailed information on this hike, including a wealth of photos.

The back of the upper storey was also in better shape than would have been expected considering it was now on the ground.

Posted by Exploring History in your Hiking Boots on Thursday, November 12, 2015

9. Picnic Point

Copy Link
7231 Picnic Point Rd
Edmonds, WA 98036
(425) 388-6600
Visit Website

If you can find a day with a very low tide, you can walk a few miles miles north along the beach to see a ship graveyard—and while multiple ships are here, one 1800s ship ends up being the centerpiece, with at least the shape of its hull still intact. The story of that ship isn’t especially spooky, but it’s easy to imagine some stories. Walk a full five miles and arrive at Mukilteo’s Point Elliott.

The ships themselves are on private property, so don’t get too close, but there’s plenty of beachfront for viewing them from a distance. And seriously: Make sure that tide’s going to be low for a while.

10. Mission Point Trail

Copy Link
St Paul Mission Rd
Kettle Falls, WA 99141

This one’s a little out of town, but if you’re passing by the Colville area, this half-mile trail will take you from an 1847 mission to the site of Fort Colville, built in 1825. Here, there’s a small graveyard that might actually be bigger, but it’s apparently hard to tell after all the grave robbery. Some graves are marked and some are unmarked, so watch where you step if you’re a superstitious type.

1. Afterglow Vista

Afterglow Dr, Friday Harbor, WA 98250

This San Juan locale is the site of the family mausoleum for the McMillin family, who built Roche Harbor, originally a village but now a resort. It’s more of a walk than a hike; a 10-minute stroll through a cemetery will take you to the family’s ornate memorial, a table and chairs surrounded by Doric columns. Each chair contains a family member’s ashes. It’s supposed to be quite peaceful in its own way.

Afterglow Dr
Friday Harbor, WA 98250

2. Northern State Hospital

Coyote Ln, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284

Northern State Hospital is one of the area’s most notorious haunted places. It started as grand as any early-20th-century sanitarium could, with an Olmstead Brothers-designed landscape and its own self-sustaining town structure, complete with a farm and bakery. But it was plagued by the terrifying treatments popular in that era, including transorbital lobotomies. The facility closed in the 1970s, and some buildings are still active facilities—but many of the older, abandoned buildings are part of the Northern State Recreation Area, including barns, milking shed, and cannery. Visitors can also (respectfully) explore the cemetery, which is the final resting place for about 1,500 patients. It’s a favorite spot of abandoned-place photographers.

Coyote Ln
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284

3. Monte Cristo

Monte Cristo Way, Jordan Road-Canyon Creek, WA 98252

Off Barlow Pass, a trail leads to the remains of Monte Cristo, originally a gold and silver mining town founded in the 1890s but abandoned in 1907. It was a booming tourist destination until flooding washed out a bridge in the 1980s, and since then, hikers have had to ford a river to get to the town. A long toxic mineral cleanup process closed this trail for a while, but it’s back in commission—with the caveat that the water contains arsenic. Some people camp out here, but again: the arsenic.

Buildings left over from both its mining town days and its time as a resort are visible once hikers reach the townsite, as well as some mines.

Monte Cristo Way
Jordan Road-Canyon Creek, WA 98252

4. Iron Goat Trail

Iron Goat Trail, Leavenworth, WA 98826

Near Stevens Pass, part of the Iron Goat Trail will take you to Wellington, a ghost town with a tragic history. At the time, it was the site of a railroad depot, and on a snowy day in 1910, an avalanche hit the depot along with two trains stalled by a blizzard, killing 96 people (only 23 survived). The town was swiftly renamed to Tye, but was still abandoned in 1929 after its railroad depot became obsolete. The trail heads through some of the town’s still-standing snow sheds.

Iron Goat Trail
Leavenworth, WA 98826

5. Rattlesnake Mountain Trail

37580 Winery Rd, Snoqualmie, WA 98065

Rattlesnake Lake hides a secret underneath: the remains of Moncton, the town it flooded out of existence in 1915 after the construction of Masonry Dam. Fall, according to the Washington Trails Association, is actually the ideal time to view the ghost town—the water is low enough to catch a glimpse of tree stumps, foundations, and even a fireplace.

37580 Winery Rd
Snoqualmie, WA 98065

6. Franklin Ghost Town

Black Diamond, WA 98010

This south King County hike takes you through a former mining company town—the site of one of Washington’s worst mining disasters in 1894, when 37 miners suffocated after a fire in the mine that appeared to have been started intentionally. Like Wellington, it chugged on for a little while after the disaster, but by the 1920s, the town was largely abandoned. Some remnants still remain, like a mining cart, a grate-covered mine shaft, a cemetery.

7. Liberty

Liberty, WA 98922

Liberty was founded way back in 1867 after gold was found in the surrounding creeks. It’s only partially a ghost town; while the population dwindled after the gold did, a few people still live there (be respectful!). But a lot of historic buildings remain, added to the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970s. There’s no official trail, but as the WTA notes, there’s lots of big, open space to explore.

8. Copper City

Naches, WA 98937

Like other Washington ghost towns, Copper City was also a mining town (guess what was being mined!) before it was abandoned. And while things looked promising at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, things ultimately didn’t go quite as planned, and the mining operation’s profitability didn’t last. The place was abandoned in 1948, but hikers can still view a collapsed bunkhouse and what’s left of an ore mill. Exploring History in Your Hiking Boots has a lot of detailed information on this hike, including a wealth of photos.

9. Picnic Point

7231 Picnic Point Rd, Edmonds, WA 98036

If you can find a day with a very low tide, you can walk a few miles miles north along the beach to see a ship graveyard—and while multiple ships are here, one 1800s ship ends up being the centerpiece, with at least the shape of its hull still intact. The story of that ship isn’t especially spooky, but it’s easy to imagine some stories. Walk a full five miles and arrive at Mukilteo’s Point Elliott.

The ships themselves are on private property, so don’t get too close, but there’s plenty of beachfront for viewing them from a distance. And seriously: Make sure that tide’s going to be low for a while.

7231 Picnic Point Rd
Edmonds, WA 98036

10. Mission Point Trail

St Paul Mission Rd, Kettle Falls, WA 99141

This one’s a little out of town, but if you’re passing by the Colville area, this half-mile trail will take you from an 1847 mission to the site of Fort Colville, built in 1825. Here, there’s a small graveyard that might actually be bigger, but it’s apparently hard to tell after all the grave robbery. Some graves are marked and some are unmarked, so watch where you step if you’re a superstitious type.

St Paul Mission Rd
Kettle Falls, WA 99141