Haunted Hikes: Norton Creek Trail

Does it come as a surprise that Great Smoky Mountains National Park is haunted?

Located in the hazy Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, Norton Creek Trail begins along the north shore of Lake Fontana and winds through the highest concentration of cemeteries in the region (over 200 if we’re counting). And that’s just the beginning!

Two very different spirits are said to lurk in the shadowy woods surrounding the lake.

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Flickr / Peter Ciro

The Cherokee living in the area used to scare their children with tales of Spearfinger, an old witch living high up in the mountains. With one finger made of stone and sharpened like a knife, she would lure children who ventured too far from the village to her home. Once there, she would rock the children to sleep and sing to them, before using her sharpened finger to cut out their liver (which she considered a delicacy).

A far more benevolent spirit is that of a settler in the region many years ago. According to legend, the man died while searching the woods for his lost daughter (perhaps taken by Spearfinger?). Today, lost hikers report seeing a bright light that leads them to safety.

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Flickr / woodleywonderworks

If you’re feeling particularly brave, you can actually spend the night camping near one of the many historic cemeteries in the area. Start at Lakeview Drive on the north shore of Fontana Lake and follow the road for six miles before you reach the Upper and Lower Norton Cemeteries. Along the hike, you’ll pass different ruins of chimneys, stone walls, and foundations, all dating back to early settler life in the area. There are a number of official backcountry campsites for you to pitch a tent and spend the night near the dead… if you dare.

And once social isolation is at an end, consider joining the American Hikes Ghosts and Legends tour out of Bryson City. They’ll take you down the Road to Nowhere as well as the Goldmine Loop for a night of ghost stories, Cherokee folklore, and local history.

If you own a haunted bar, cafe, hotel, or restaurant, and you’d like us to check it out, reach out to us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.  If you have a favorite haunted hot spot with great food and atmosphere and you’d like to share it with us, hit us up on social media or leave a comment below! We’d love to hear from you… Thanks for joining us and Happy Haunting!

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