Location: White Mountains in Bartlett, NH
Trail: Willey Range Trail in Crawford Notch State Park
In fall 2018, a hiker set out with a friend to explore the Willey Range Trail in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
They kept hearing strange noises throughout their trek, sounds with no apparent source as they were the only hikers on the trail.
After descending the trail’s iconic set of ten low-angle wooden ladders, the lead hiker noticed a young boy ahead on the trail… sitting all alone.
“There was a 10- or 11-year-old boy wearing a white shirt and blue shorts sitting on the left side of the trail, tapping a stick,” the hiker said according to Trail to Summit.
As the boy tapped away, the hiker wondered who would let a child wander the wilderness alone. He looked at her with a smile… and vanished without a trace.
Alarmed by the encounter, the hiker later researched the area only to discover the story of the tragedy of the Willey family.
Sam Willey, his wife, and their five children ran an inn at the base of the mountain in the 1820s. In the fall of 1826, a violent rainstorm caused massive landslides on the mountain.
The Willey family abandoned their home, seeking shelter in a nearby mountain pass.
Unfortunately, the landslide avoided the family’s home but tons of debris were funneled down into the pass where the Willey’s were sheltering. The entire family perished and the bodies of three of the family’s children were never recovered. Including, yep, an 11-year-old son named Jeremiah.
They’re now said to wander the wilderness where they lived and died.
If you’re ever exploring this challenging 6-mile round-trip trail, pay attention. The disappearing trail companions might not be hallucinations from oxygen deprivation as you climb the ladders.