This 230-mile Haunted Trail in New York State Is the Perfect October Road Trip — Eerie Lake Towns and Ghost Sightings Included

Come for the fall foliage, stay for the unsolved mysteries and stories of UFO sightings.

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. 

Beneath the sparkling lakes and colorful fall foliage of New York's 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. 

Mountain Village of Lake Placid at Sunrise from a Fog Covered Mirror Lake

Albert Pego/Getty Images

The folks at Adirondack Wayfinder, a tool that curates themed trails for travelers, are the ones to thank for this route, which can be customized 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

Street view at night in Lake Placid, a village in the Adirondack Mountains in Essex County, New York

Denis Tangney Jr/Getty Images

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 town's two 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, where travelers will find the sprawling Rhinelander Estate. It was owned by Philip Rhinelander in the early 1800s, and in the estate's main mansion, Philip held 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 (on Main Street in Saranac Lake) or the ol' Stagecoach Inn in Lake Placid.

Not ready to put yourself at the mercy of resident ghosts? Book a room at the Whiteface Lodge or Eastwind, both in Lake Placid, and both of which have a decidedly un-ghostly feel.

When to Go

You can enjoy the route year-round, but since haunted sites are always more fun around Halloween, and the fall colors are truly spectacular in the Adirondacks, we suggest checking the Adirondack Fall Foliage Report to get real-time updates on the changing colors. Then, push your trip as close to Halloween as possible.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles