Three Spooktacular Halloween Hikes near Seattle

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There's something skin-prickling and hair-raising about hiking in October: Leaves stir and rustle, trees creak and moan in the wind, temperatures cool, and nightfall creeps in. Embrace the spooky change in the season with one of these three family-friendly hikes that will give you a spine-tingling thrill for Halloween! Each hike includes a "Spook factor" from one to ten, with ten being a full-blown, expect-ghosts-to-emerge-out-of-the-walls creepiness. Bwah-ha-ha! :-)

1. The Halloween Stump of Cougar Mountain

2.0 miles roundtrip, 100 feet elevation gain

Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park

No parking pass required, leashed dogs allowed

Spook factor: 5

Subterranean airshafts, ghostly three canopies, and a former coal mining town lurk in the shadows on Cougar Mountain, a fantastic option for a Halloween hike. There is a spooky tree stump 1.0 mile south of the Red Town Trailhead that always gives me the creeps! A deep black, rotted eye glares from old, bark-lined cheeks. Pencil-thin branches stand stick-straight like a mad-man's hair, while a hollowed out nose rounds out the face. Its equal parts fascinating, equal parts…creepy!

Start your hike from the Red Town Trailhead. Head south on the W1 Wildside Trail, following the signs toward W9 De Leo Wall. In 1.0 mile, the tree stump will be on your left, just past a cedar grove. Turn around at the tree stump for a 2.0 mile roundtrip hike, or keep going south to loop back to the Red Town Trailhead via the W9 De Leo Wall Trail, W7 Indian Trail, and W2 Red Town Trail (2.6 miles roundtrip).

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Tip: It's easy to get turned around in the maze-like junctions on Cougar Mountain. Pick up a map from the Red Town Trailhead kiosk (or download one here) to help you navigate. If you're looking for a little more solitude, arrive early: The trailhead is popular and parking can fill by 9:30 a.m. on summer and fall weekends.

2. Airshaft to the Primrose Mine

2.0 miles roundtrip, 225 feet elevation gain

Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park

No parking pass required, leashed dogs allowed

Spook factor: 6

The airshaft to the Primrose Mine combines a Halloween thrill with a history lesson on Cougar Mountain's coal mining past. Read fascinating (and bone-chilling) descriptions of coal mining operations on a kiosk next to the airshaft: It's chilling when you think of the miners who relied on the airshaft to breathe. The heavy grate covering it always gets my imagination going, thinking of what it must have been like on the other side!

From the Sky Country parking lot, head southeast on Clay Pit Road for 0.9 miles. Turn right at the sign for C10 Mine Shaft Trail and hike 0.1 mile south to the airshaft.

Up until 2015, Clay Pit Road had been used by the Mutual Materials Company to access a clay pit to make bricks. The pit has since retired, and is now going through a restoration. Clay Pit Road is closed to public vehicular traffic and is gated next to the Sky Country parking lot. So, aside from the odd maintenance truck, you've got a nice, wide, car-free road to hike with a viewpoint of Tiger Mountain and the Cascades from the Clay Pit at the end. 

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Tip: Pick up a map at the Sky Country Trailhead kiosk (or download one here). Another option is to start from the Sky Country Trailhead and make a loop by taking C11 Old Man's Trail, C3 Cave Hole Trail, C9 Bypass Trail, and C7 Fred's Railroad Trail to Clay Pit Road (pictured above). Hike to the Clay Pit at the end of the road for a view of Tiger Mountain (2.4 miles roundtrip).

3. Wellington Ghost Town

1.3 miles roundtrip, 60 feet elevation gain, ADA accessible

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

No parking pass required, leashed dogs allowed

Spook factor: 10

It doesn't get any creepier than the site of the worst avalanche disaster in U.S. history. In the early morning hours of March 10, 1910, a flash of lightning triggered an avalanche that swept two Great Northern Railway trains down Windy Mountain. Ninety-six people perished, and eventually the town of Wellington—a railroad town—changed its name to Tye to put the association with the disaster behind them. 

From the parking lot, head southwest on the Iron Goat Trail towards the all-concrete snowshed. The concrete snowshed was built in 1911 to protect trains from snow. It's dark. It's damp. It's drafty. It reminds me of an eerie, underground cave, and is the spookiest place I've ever hiked. 

Hike to the west end of the snowshed for a 1.3 mile roundtrip or head to Windy Point for views of Cowboy Mountain and the Second Cascade Tunnel (5.6 miles roundtrip). Information panels along the trail tell the story of the avalanche and train's crew and passengers.

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Tip: Wellington Ghost Town is located at Stevens Pass, and can have snow by mid-October. Before you head out, call up the Skykomish Ranger Station to check trail and road conditions. Due to avalanche danger, skip the hike when snow is present.

Have a Spooktacular Halloween!