When the leaves chase themselves in circles and the cooler wind makes your neck hairs stand up, you may wonder if it’s something more than just the season changing. While many people flock here to experience the bright, vibrant-colored side of the Smokies in October, others may be curious about exploring the darker, creepier side.
This part of Appalachia does not disappoint when it comes to ghost stories and eerie tales. We can’t exactly validate the following information from personal experience, but these legends, tales, and lore have been passed around these parts for decades. Rich local histories of early settlers and mountain communities and the Native American culture that runs deep in this area make these stories even more believable. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, these spooky legends are sure to raise the hair on the back of your neck.
Lucy of Roaring Fork
“Lucy” is the spirit of a young woman known to haunt the Roaring Fork Trail looking for a ride. Roaring Fork is a 5.5-mile-long, one-way loop in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park scattered with original homes and farms of early settlers. In 1910, a young man named Foster came upon Lucy in the mountains and offered her a ride on his horse. He found her to be unusually “warm” that cold night, and he quickly fell in love with her. He went looking for her again the next day, but learned from her parents that Lucy had died in a cabin fire one year earlier. Today, visitors traveling up Roaring Fork have reported seeing a pretty, young woman standing on the side of the road without shoes, still looking for a ride.
Legend of Spearfinger
Cherokee legend tells of an old witch known as “Spearfinger,” who was said to lurk in the fog and shadows of the Norton Creek Trail. Spearfinger had skin made of stone and one long finger that was as sharp as a spear. Often disguised as a kindly old woman, she would lure unsuspecting children who had wandered too far from home on the mountain trails. Mesmerizing them, she would then use her long spear-like finger to cut out and then eat their livers. To explore the area where Spearfinger was said to live, simply hike or walk the Norton Creek Trail, which will also lead you past several old cemeteries.
Lydia, The Ghost of Greenbrier
According to local tales, back in the 1940s, “Lydia” was a young bride-to-be on her way to a small church in Gatlinburg to meet her groom. Devastated that he did not show, Lydia went back to where she had been staying at Greenbrier Lodge and hanged herself from the staircase bannister. Several days later, her groom was found dead in the woods, having been mauled, possibly by a mountain lion. Legend has it that whenever one of these big mountain cats is found dead, Lydia has exacted her revenge. Many “sightings” have also been reported, or stories told, that Lydia can be still be seen on the staircase at Greenbrier where she ended her life.
For hard-core hunters, there are local ghost tours, such as the Ghost Walk of Gatlinburg and the Ghost Ride of Pigeon Forge and Hillbilly Haunts Ghost Tours. For those who like their scares a little more fun than horrifying, visit Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, Mysterious Mansion, Castle of Chaos, and other local “haunts.”
Whatever your appetite for terror, though, we recommend a nightly stay in one of our comfortable suites. Unlike the lodge on top of Mount Le Conte, where a ghostly girl is reported to stand at the foot of your bed at exactly 3:33 a.m. and watch you sleep, Riverstone’s staff are alive and only come to assist you when called! Happy Halloween!