The Appalachian Trail has always been haunted by legends and lore, and this trail–like the name says–has a few ghosts too.
Nestled in the 3,687-acre Big Ridge State Park, Ghost House Trail is just one of many hiking trails available for guests, 15-miles in total. Ranging from easy to difficult, these trails are called “Chestnut Ridge,” “Old Mill,” “Fisherman,” and, of course, “Ghost House.”
This 1.2-mile loop is an easy hike through the park as well as the region’s dark and grisly history (some actually documented and some a bit more on the urban legend side of the spectrum).
According to legend, a young woman was accused of witchcraft by her own father and hanged in the woods. Today, visitors claim that she haunts the gristmill, even though there are no actual reports that this tragic event ever occurred.
The nearby Indian Rock Trail (considered extremely difficult and recommended for only the most experienced/fittest hikers) is home to a plaque that commemorates the late Peter Graves, a settler who was scalped by a local Native American tribe while out turkey hunting.
But witches and scalpings aren’t what gave Ghost House Trail its name: the Hutchinson family is.
Along the trail, stop at the Norton Cemetery and see if you can spot the sunken grave of Maston Hutchinson, the head of the Hutchinson family. Continue towards Big Valley to the remnants of the Hutchinson house, the epicenter of the Ghost House Trail haunting.
According to legend, in the 1800s, Maston’s daughter, Mary, died tragically from tuberculosis. Long after the family left home, neighbors reported hearing screams and cries and even saw people wandering inside the abandoned house. Today, neither Mary nor Maston appear to hikers… however, the family dog does. Hikers along the trail report hearing the sound of a dog panting and running up behind them only to find nothing there.
Big Ridge State Park is located approximately 25 miles north of Knoxville and is still currently open during the COVID-19 crisis (though the visitor center and other buildings are now closed). The park also offers a mobile app with maps that work with or without the internet.
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