Horror and thrill enthusiasts living in the Garden State are very fortunate. You don’t have to go too far in any one direction to stumble upon some historically scary places in NJ. It seems almost every county is rich with its own haunted history or haunted legends. If you’re a NJ resident, there are a few notoriously spooky spots you need to know about.
The Pine Barrens, South Jersey
None of the scary places in NJ are quite as infamous as the Pine Barrens in South Jersey. This large expanse of preserved forest spans seven counties, and during the day it’s very beautiful. At night, however, it’s a different story. They turn dark, silent, and sinister, with endless trails that lead to unknown horrors. People report disturbing noises, strange lights, and evidence of rituals or witchcraft.
The Pine Barrens most famous resident of legend, however, is without a doubt the Jersey Devil. It’s said that the Jersey Devil was the cursed 13th son of Mrs. Leeds, a Pine Barrens resident. Born a hideous monster, he attacked his mother and the nurses and then flew with leathery wings up the chimney and out into the night.
Sightings of the Jersey Devil have been reported for centuries, some coming from as far away as Delaware and Pennsylvania. The Jersey Devil legend is so popular, in fact, that it even served as inspiration for the name of the NHL team based in Newark, New Jersey. New Jersey-born kids have all heard the legend of the Jersey Devil. Whether fact or fiction, you’d be hard pressed to get anyone to spend the night out in the lonely Pine Barrens by themselves.
The Devil’s Tree, Bernards Township
Supposedly the site of a farmer’s gruesome murder-suicide or possibly several terrible lynchings, the Devil’s Tree in Bernards Township, NJ is certainly one of the popular scary places in NJ. It’s said that the tree and ground encircling it is warm to the touch, no matter the time of year, and snow instantly melts around it. The tree itself is an imposing site, growing grizzled, gnarled, and steeped in mystery. The trunk is littered with the ax marks of futile attempts to chop it down. The legend goes that anyone who tries to cut the tree down is doomed to meet an unfortunate end.
Gates of Hell, Clifton
This is the name given to a cavernous passageway leading to a collection of several large underground tunnels and storm sewers. It’s a dark and potentially dangerous place that floods very rapidly. Legends surround these tunnels, and people report spotting animal bones from ritual sacrifice, suspicious foul odors, secret rooms that can’t be found more than once, and strange whispers in the darkness. Of course, there’s also rumors that if you journey deep enough into the tunnels, you’ll stumble into the actual portal to the underworld.
The Spy House, Port Monmouth
Dubbed “The Grand Central of Ghosts,” this house is often referred to as one of the most haunted houses in America, let alone one of the most scary places in NJ. It’s long been the site of ghostly apparitions and paranormal mysteries. The proprietor of the establishment, Thomas Seabrook, reportedly used the house to spy on British soldiers during the Revolutionary War. It’s also said that pirates came to dispose of their countless dead in the cellar.
Proprietary House, Perth Amboy
This was the former home of William Franklin, New Jersey’s last Royal Governor, and the illegitimate son of Benjamin Franklin. Many report that the house and grounds are haunted by apparitions of Revolutionary soldiers, and apparently, there’s also a particular little ghost boy that follows you around. Come around at the right time, and you may also catch the ethereal form of a woman near the dining room window.
The Devil’s Tower, Alpine
This tower was built by a plantation owner who moved north after striking his fortune. He had the tower built so his wife could see the panoramic views of New York City. Legend has it that the wife witnessed her beloved husband with another woman from the heights of the tower. Distraught, she leaped from the top.
In the years following, several attempts have been made to demolish the tower, but each time there have been strange and unexplained accidents at the work site. In addition, visitors report hearing screams from the top of the tower. Local legend also says that if you circle the tower six times, you’ll see the apparition of a woman in the window. These sightings and the unexplained work accidents were enough to prevent further efforts to demolish the tower. Currently, it still stands abandoned and undisturbed.
Can’t Get Enough of Scary Places in NJ?
Have these real, haunted, and scary places in NJ piqued your interest and left you wanting more? While you’re out hunting ghosts and apparitions, stop by 13th Hour in Wharton, NJ. Halloween may be passed, but the scares never stop for us! Our haunted escape rooms are open year-round, and are now accepting fresh victims! Think you can solve the mystery and make it out in time? Our new escape room, THE COOKHOUSE, is opening January 6th! Check out our schedule to see available dates and times.