This story was originally published in October 2016.
The state of Maine has long been known as a place of ghost stories and otherworldly happenings. Perhaps it’s the landscape that inspires such tales. What makes the state beautiful — it’s jagged coastline, fog-socked harbors, mossy woods and old quaint towns — can also appear spooky and ethereal. Or maybe — just maybe — Maine truly is a hotspot for the supernatural.
Whatever the reason, Maine is home to some of the nation’s oldest and most elaborate ghost tales, as well as host of modern spectres. Most of these stories take place in old homes, inns and theaters. But there are a few ghosts that prefer to haunt Maine’s great outdoors.
So for those who would like to mix recreation with spectral lore, here are a few haunted Maine trails that you can visit this Halloween season, in the spirit of all that goes bump in the night.
Mount Catherine near Franklin
To locals, this mountain is known as “Catherine’s Hill,” home of a particularly spooky ghost known as Headless Catherine. While there are several versions of this ghosts story floating around out there, all stories agree that this particular ghost is that of a woman who died in a vehicle accident nearby. She has been seen walking along Blackwoods Road between the towns of Cherryfield and Franklin, and is said to also haunt the banks of nearby Fox Pond and the slopes of Catherine Mountain.
Rising 942 feet above sea level, the sparsely wooded top of Catherine Mountain offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, lakes and ponds of eastern Maine. The top can be reached by a moderately difficult hiking trail that includes a few steep, rocky sections. Up and back, the hike is about 1.4 miles long.
How to get there: From Route 1 and Route 182 in Franklin, turn east on Route 182 (Blackwoods Scenic Byway) and turn right onto Dynamite Brook Road, a dirt road marked with a blue public reserved land sign. Drive a short distance and park in the first small parking area on the left. The trailhead — marked with a boulder and painted blue blaze — is farther down the road on the left, just before the narrow bridge. A short distance into the trail will be a sign that reads “Caribou Mt. Trail.” This trail will lead you to a juncture, where you will turn left to hike Catherine Mountain (right to hike Caribou Mountain).
The Old Narrow Gauge Trail in Randolph
This public path for walkers and bicyclists was constructed along the former Kennebec Central Railroad, which from the 1890s to 1920s transported passengers and goods to the nation’s first veterans hospital at Togus. And for years, area residents have been sharing stories about scary experiences they’ve had while on the trail, which some people believe to be haunted.
On theory is that the trail is haunted by the spirit of Bicycle Larry, a Randolph man who disappeared from the town in fall 2004 and was never found. However, some people in the town claim that the Old Narrow Gauge Volunteer Trail and the woods it passes through was haunted long before then. Ghost stories associated with this trail include shadow people, disembodied voices and glowing orbs floating through the forest.
Passing through a thin strip of woods with residential houses on either side, the trail then crosses Route 226 and enters a quieter, older forest. In addition to following the old railroad bed, the trail follows a brook.
How to get there: The trail starts beside Googins IGA on Route 27 in Randolph.
Silver Lake Trails in Bucksport
Located in a 67-acre park on the shore of Silver Lake, this trail network totals about 2 miles of walking and is said to be haunted by the ghost of Sarah Ware, who died in 1898.
As the story goes, Sarah Ware was a Bucksport resident whose murderer was never brought to justice. This is the painfully short version of the story, which is rehashed in the book “In Search of Sarah Ware: Reinvestigating Murder and Conspiracy in a Maine Village” by local historian Emeric Spooner.
Silver Lake Trails are six intersecting trails that lead downhill to the shores of Silver Lake. The trails are wide and well-marked with various colors of paint, making it hard to get lost in the reportedly haunted woods. Watch your footing on sections of the trail that are rocky and covered with tangled tree roots.
How to get there: From Main Street in Bucksport, turn onto Central Street (beside MacLeod’s Restaurant and across from Fort Knox Park Inn). Follow Central Street approximately 1.8 miles and turn left into the parking area of Bucksport Public Works (362 Central Street). Follow signs for Silver Lake Trails to the left of the blue buildings and down a dirt drive to the parking area for the trail network. A kiosk with a trail map marks the trailhead.
Maiden Cliff Trail in Camden
Rising 800 feet above Megunticook Lake, Maiden Cliff is one of the most popular hiking destinations of Midcoast Maine. It also happens to be the location of a tragic accident, which has led some people to believe it to be haunted.
In May 7, 1864, a young girl fell to her death from Maiden Cliff. Her story can be read on a memorial plaque at the top of the cliff, where a large, metal cross was erected in her memory.
Today, visitors can climb to the cliff on a 1-mile hiking trail that is steep and rocky. The trail ends at the cross, memorial plaque and a spectacular view of the lake and nearby hills.
How to get there: From the intersection of Route 1 and Route 52 in Camden, turn onto Route 52 and travel north for about 2.8 miles. The parking area for Maiden Cliff will be on the right.
Pott’s Point Preserve in Harpswell
It’s not that the preserve that is haunted; it’s the body of water the preserve overlooks: Merriconeag Sound leading into Harpswell Harbor. In the 1800s, this waterway was known to be visited by a ghost ship that some believed to the Dash, a Freeport-built privateer that disappeared in January 1815 with 60 men aboard. Appearing often at Lookout Point or Pott’s Point, the ghost ship — on which no sailors are seen aboard — was said to indicate a local death was imminent. The last sighting of the ship was 1880, but the story lives on in the 1866 poem “The Dead Ship of Harpswell” by John Greenleaf Whittier.
Pott’s Point Preserve is owned and maintained by the Harpswell Heritage Trust and includes nice secluded beaches and tidal pools. While there are no official hiking trails on this small preserve, visitors must walk from the parking lot about 0.25 mile along the private Pott’s Point Rd to reach the preserve, where can continue your walk along the water.
How to get to Pott’s Point Preserve: From the intersection of Route 123 and Bath Road in Brunswick, follow Route 123 south 13.9 miles to the end of Route 123. Park by the side of the road, but do not block the pier or town landing. Walk along private Pott’s Point Road to the preserve. You may also walk along the shore below the high tide line.