This Nature Preserve Is Considered One Of The Most Haunted Hiking Spots In America

Pennsylvania is said to be one of the most haunted states in the country. Notable paranormal hot spots include the Eastern State Penitentiary and the Gettysburg battlefield, to name a few. Then there's Dead Man's Hollow Conservation Area. Located in McKeesport on the Youghiogheny River,  Dead Man's Hollow is less than 20 miles from Pittsburgh. It features 450 acres of greenery and various hiking and biking trails. In the 1990s, the Allegheny Land Trust (ALT), a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving land, purchased the area.

But long before it became a nature preserve, Dead Man's Hollow was home to a quarry, the Bowman Brick factory, and Union Sewer Pipe Company, both of which burned down in the 1920s, per a video on PBS. Needless to say, this is not an ordinary hiking spot. Some even believe that there are otherworldy happenings in Dead Man's Hollow.

In a 2011 article from The Tribune-Review, Steve Bosnyak, a volunteer with the ALT, said, "People will hike up in here and insist they heard some noise or saw something move, or that something else happened." Legend has it that Dead Man's Hollow was named in 1874 after a hanged body was found in the area. However, this is just the beginning of its peculiar history.

Tragic and spooky stories from Dead Man's Hollow

While the rumor is that Dead Man's Hollow Conservation Area is haunted, the question remains: why? The consensus from locals is that it has to do with the many documented deaths that occurred here in the 19th and 20th centuries. One ghost that is said to haunt Dead Man's Hollow is that of Ward McConkey, who died in the early 1880s. McConkey was hanged after he was convicted of killing shop owner George McClure. The murder, which transpired in Dead Man's Hollow, was the result of a robbery gone wrong. 

Another tragedy occurred in 1883 when a group of four quarry workers lit a fire too close to explosives, causing a deadly blast. Another alleged ghost is Mike Sacco, a Union Sewer Pipe Company employee. He died a grisly death in 1905 after being crushed by an elevator. In 1934, a man rowing his boat on the Youghiogheny River reported seeing a Native American ghost, adding to Dead Man's Hollow's haunted reputation. But besides ghosts, local lore says the area is home to a cryptid, with reported sightings of a massive snake through the years. 

Know before you go to Dead Man's Hollow Conservation Area

With its dark past and legends, Dead Man's Hollow Conservation Area is a place for paranormal enthusiasts looking for a ghostly encounter. But at its core, it's also ideal for nature and history lovers. Dead Mean's Hollow is a sanctuary for plants and birds. You can expect to encounter fauna, flora, and birds like red-bellied woodpeckers and scarlet tanagers. Moreover, visitors can get lost in the striking scenery and the graffiti-covered ruins of the Bowman Brick Factory and the Union Sewer Pipe Company. There's also a tunnel, abandoned railroad tracks, and a stone staircase known as the enchanted staircase to explore. 

There are eight miles of hiking trails. One of these is the Cool Spirit Trail, which is also mountain bike-friendly. It's under two miles, and All Trails reviewers say it's marked and will lead you to the ruins. You can also hunt at Dead Mean's Hollow, but you must have a permit from the ALT. Keep in mind that hunting is only allowed from September 1 to January 31 and is prohibited on Sundays. With that said, Dead Man's Hollow is open year-round from dusk until dawn. Dogs are allowed but must be on a leash. If you want to learn more about Dead Mans Hollow, you can read the informative displays found along the trails.