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Mysterious Parks

This Halloween, head out for a spooky hike.

By Eva Frederick

Whether you’re on the lookout for ghost crabs at Galveston Island or telling hair-raising stories around a campfire at Caddo Lake, Texas state parks can be the perfect places to get that spine-tingling feeling of mystery. Before you go trick-or-treating this Halloween, head out for trick-or-trekking at one of these mysterious parks.

Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area

Thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats fly out of Devil’s Sinkhole each night (late spring to early fall), the sound of their leathery wings magnified by the giant, hollow basin below. Day tours allow visitors to peer into the state’s largest single-chamber cavern, down into the mysterious darkness, 350 feet deep.

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Goliad State Park

Goliad State Park is steeped in Texas history. It serves as a hub for visiting Mission Espíritu Santo (in the park) and Presidio La Bahía (a half-mile south), where a cloud hangs over one of the darkest chapters of Texas’ past: the Goliad Massacre. Part of the presidio has been converted into hotel rooms where brave souls can experience the deep silence of nightfall in the historic fort.

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McKinney Falls State Park

On foggy nights, tendrils of mist pass through the doorless hallways of the McKinney Homestead. The building, which is now just a skeleton of a house, has stood for nearly two centuries. McKinney Falls State Park stays open until 10 p.m. — for eeriest results, visit at dusk.

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Galveston Island State Park

The beach at Galveston Island State Park is definitely haunted. But the otherworldly residents of this stretch of sand aren’t ethereal spirits of the dead. They’re ghost crabs! Despite their pale, translucent appearance and habit of combing the beach in the dead of night, these little crabs are reassuringly substantial — our favorite kind of “ghost” sighting.

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Caddo Lake State Park

As you paddle beneath swaying branches draped with Spanish moss deep in the eerie, bald cypress-lined waterways of Caddo Lake, it’s easy to let your imagination run wild. The lake’s stunning biodiversity (216 species of birds, 47 species of mammals and 90 species of reptiles and amphibians) means that when you get the creepy feeling that you’re being watched, it’s probably because you are.

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Enchanted Rock State Park

If you find yourself out on Enchanted Rock on a cool night after a warm day, you might hear a hair-raising creaking sound emanating from the glittering mound of granite. Don’t worry, though — it’s not the cries of the ghostly Native American chief who is rumored to walk the rock  as punishment for sacrificing his daughter. It’s just a natural sound caused by the outer surface of the rock contracting as the temperature drops. Probably.

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