A curated “haunted” house is tame in comparison to places where unexplained events actually occurred. These destinations, no matter how beautiful they appear, always have an eerie feel — especially in the fall. By Evie Carrick
Beneath the sparkling lakes and colourful fall foliage of the Adirondack Mountains is a history that is long and dark. Unsolved murders, missing persons, and ghost sightings are more common than you’d think, and some have been documented and mapped out in the Haunted Adirondack Trail, a route that passes by nine truly spooky stops over the course of over 230 miles (370 km).
Everything you need to know about the haunted trail in New York State
The folks at Adirondack Wayfinder, a tool that curates themed trails for travellers, are the ones to thank for this route, which can be customised to include your starting address, specific historical sites, hotels, and other attractions. (Pro tip: Share the trail to your smartphone for an on-the-go guide to each site.)
The Haunted Adirondack Trail Route
The first stop on the journey is one of the most thrilling. You’ll visit the shores of Big Moose Lake, home to the wandering spirit of Grace Brown. Grace fell in love with a man named Chester and became pregnant. Shortly after, Chester took her on a “romantic” trip to Big Moose Lake, rented a rowboat, and murdered her.
From there, you’ll travel to Inlet, the tiny town where Chester was arrested. Inlet, population 300, is also the site of another haunting — that of Jasper Day, a hermit who lived deep in the woods and is said to haunt the bridge that connects the lakes. The hiking trail leads to the eerie remains of Jasper’s shack.
After two spooky, rural encounters, head north to Saranac Lake. In the early 1900s, the village was devoted to curing tuberculosis and many of those who were lost are said to still wander the town. Much of the action revolves around Hotel Saranac, which was built in 1927. In addition to mysterious figures who disappear at will, the ghost of a cat is said to wander the halls and many guests have reported feeling the cat brush up against them.
From Saranac Lake, continue to the town of Lake Placid, which is home to three notorious hauntings. The first, is “The Lady in the Lake,” a ghost sighting that has become so common it has its own name. Campers and boaters have continued to spot the ghostly figure of Mabel Smith Douglass, a woman who disappeared in 1933 and was found at the bottom of the lake 30 years later. Nearby, the historic Palace Theater is home to an extremely noisy — and extremely friendly — ghost named George. You’ll find him in Theater 3. And finally, Lake Placid’s oldest operating inn, the Stagecoach Inn, has its own resident ghost — who is said to move items — to various locations in the building.
From Lake Placid, follow the haunted trail east to the waters of Lake Champlain. The lake is home to over 300 known shipwrecks, many of which were blamed on the “Champlain Witch,” a bloodthirsty witch with an apparent vendetta against sailors. But it isn’t just the water you have to worry about. Not long ago, a couple claims that a UFO chased them down the road, only disappearing once they made it to town. That same weekend, a young boy saw a similar object in the sky and additional sightings have been reported since.
The final stop on the haunted trail is the tiny town of Lake Pleasant. The site of the haunting is the sprawling Rhinelander Estate, which was owned by Philip Rhinelander in the early 1800s. Before it was burned to the ground, the crown jewel of the estate was a mansion, which Philip designed to be a fortress to hold his wife, Mary, prisoner. It is said that Philip poisoned Mary over the course of several years and her ghost haunts what remains of the mansion today.
Where to stop for food
If you can, nab a spot on the patio at Lisa G’s in Lake Placid. The menu has everything from a lemon Caesar salad to wings and pizza and the view over the water is spectacular — especially in the fall.
For a taste of the Adirondacks’ finer dining, head to The View Restaurant at the Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa. Start your evening with a cocktail in the lounge before moving into the dining room for house-made porcini pasta doused in a lemon butter sauce and topped with hazelnuts, fresh arugula, and parmesan.
As you near the end of the Haunted Adirondack Trail, make sure to stop by Sticks & Stones Wood Fired Bistro & Bar in Schroon Lake. This is the place to go for a hand-stretched, wood-fired pizza, which can be enjoyed outside on the patio or inside by the crackling stone fireplace.
Where to stay
The Haunted Adirondack Trail will take over seven hours by car, which means you’ll want to spend a night or two along the way. If you’re loving the eerie feel of the Adirondacks in the fall, book a room at the Hotel Saranac (near Saranac Lake) or the ol’ Stagecoach Inn in Lake Placid and let the fun continue.
When to go
You can enjoy the route year-round, but since haunted sites are always more fun around Halloween, and the fall colours are truly spectacular in the Adirondacks, we suggest checking the Adirondack Fall Foliage Report to get real-time updates on the changing colours. Then, push your trip as close to Halloween as possible.
This story first appeared on www.travelandleisure.com
Main and Feature Image Credit: Albert Pego/Getty Images