The sweltering hell of summer is long gone. October in Oregon sees the rain return, which for some means cozying up on the couch with a book. But for those still craving outdoor adventure, here are four reportedly haunted hikes around the state.
1. Oaks Bottom Loop Hike: 2.3 miles
Inside Portland: Heading south on 99E/Southeast McLoughlin Boulevard, make a slight right onto SE Milwaukie Avenue, then a right onto SE Bybee Boulevard and continue on SE 13th Avenue. Turn right onto SE Sellwood Boulevard, left onto SE 7th Avenue, then turn right into Sellwood Park.
This hike takes you through Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, an urban wetland known for birdwatching. From the Sellwood Park trailhead, you'll descend a bluff and take the footpath through a field of cottonwoods.
You'll wind around Wapato Marsh, passing by the wildlife mural on the Portland Memorial mausoleum, which became the first crematory west of the Mississippi when it opened in 1901. Eventually, you'll turn left onto the Springwater Corridor and head toward Oaks Amusement Park. The amusement park is allegedly haunted by a young man and a little girl who died there long ago, according to Ghosthunting Oregon by Donna Stewart, and visitors have reported seeing floating balls of light. According to Stewart, one park visitor said she felt a cold hand on her shoulder and then a whisper saying, "let's go."
2. Fort Stevens Loop Hike: 10 miles
Two hours from Portland: Take 26 West to 101 North. Drive for 13.7 miles and then turn left on Highway 104 toward Fort Stevens/Warrenton/Hammond. After 1.4 miles turn left onto Delaura Beach Lane before merging right with Ridge Road. Keep straight for 3.5 miles and then turn left toward Fort Stevens Park, where you'll bear a right into the park. Day use parking permit is $5.
Fort Stevens has been around since the Civil War, when it was used to guard the mouth of the Columbia River. This loop trail starts at the military museum, which highlights the fort's history then passes through dunes and a marsh where you'll find the rusted remnants of a 1906 shipwreck. You'll then pass a coastal lake and head inland to continue on a paved trail where you can explore old ramparts and Battery Russell, a fortification named after a Union Army major killed in the Civil War. There are accounts of a man dressed in a 1940s-era military uniform walking the trail with a lantern in hand. The campground near it has been called "Oregon's most haunted" and campers have claimed to hear footsteps near their tents in the night, with no one to be seen.
3. Tillamook Head Traverse Hike: 6.3 miles
90 minutes from Portland: Take 26 West to 101 North and turn left at Avenue U in Seaside. Then make a left onto Edgewood street and continue straight onto Ocean Vista Drive and straight onto Sunset Boulevard, which you'll follow until you hit the trailhead.
This is a beautiful trail during warm summer days, but the cooler months bring lingering fog, dark clouds and coastal storms. Beginning at Tillamook Head trailhead, you'll ramble through a thick forest of spruce, hemlock, alder and fern, and then hit switchbacks before descending to a rustic campground, where you'll see creepy abandoned WWII bunkers. You'll then come to a viewpoint for Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, perched eerily on a rock island.
Opened in 1881, it was known as "Terrible Tilly" due to the constant storms that batter the structure and two deaths that occurred there, one a surveyor and the other a lighthouse keeper. It's now decommissioned, but those who've worked there report hearing ghostly cries. Another macabre detail: From 1980 to 1999 the lighthouse operated as a columbarium, otherwise known as a place where urns are stored.
4. Oregon Caves Loop Hike: 1.2 miles
5.5 hours from Portland: From I-5 South take Exit 55 for Hwy 199 toward Crescent City. Drive about 30 miles and turn left on Hwy 46 for 19.3 miles until you reach the day-use parking area for Oregon Caves. Cave tour fees are $8.50 for adults and $6 for children. FYI: You can only access the caves via a guided tour.
Dark caves are inherently scary, and this trail that burrows deep within the Siskiyou Mountains is no different. Oregon Caves National Monument was discovered in 1874, and its marbled cave system includes crazy column-like formations and intricate flowstone passageways. Come Halloween, there's a fun yet gimmicky Haunted Candlelight Tour, where you are encouraged to dress up. While on the guided tour you'll see the Oregon Caves Chateau, a hotel built in 1934 that's supposedly haunted by a ghost named Elizabeth who died after falling from the window of room 310.