The Screaming Tunnel Niagara: Would You Hike Somewhere Haunted? (Bruce Trail Hike #3)

One week later, and we’re ready to hike some more! This time, I have recruited a third person to join in on the fun, my sister, Robyn! Shannon, Robyn and I all started where Shannon and I left off one week prior. On this hike in the Niagara area, we’d pass through the Screaming Tunnel (a haunted tunnel), wander through vineyards, and encounter some unique finds.

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Ready to hike the Bruce Trail in Niagara
My friend Shannon, my sister Robyn, and me!

Starting things off, our beginning point might appear to be a dead-end road in the middle of nowhere. Well, it kind of is a dead-end road in the middle of nowhere. But, it also happens to be a point where you can link up directly with the Bruce Trail. Technically, the stretch of trail extends between Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls, heading towards St. Catharines, Ontario. We end up hiking this path twice in actuality: one way there, and one way back to the car. It ended up being about 12km in total length for the day.

To summarize really quickly, my goal is to hike the entire Bruce Trail throughout Ontario, Canada. It extends from north to south, spanning almost 900km in length. You can read about all of my Bruce Trail hikes to see how far I’ve traveled on my own two feet over the years.

Starting our Niagara Hike

Our journey began when we immediately hiked in the wrong direction. Yes, we started walking down a farmer’s field that had a huge sign reading, “No trespassing!”. Oops. And the only way we figured that we were going the wrong way was when we saw someone jogging on the other side of the fence. It was a big, “Ohhhh…this makes sense” type of moment, so we backtracked and got onto the actual Bruce Trail path.

Hiking the Bruce Trail in the Niagara Club
Fall forest on the Bruce Trail
The Bruce Trail - hiking through the forest in Niagara Falls

It was much chillier outside than last week. We had some crazy weather patterns this past summer. For instance, you may recall that on our hike last week, I was wearing shorts and a tank top. And this week, I’m wearing jeans and a jacket. It was breezy, cool, and it even rained a little bit at the end of the hike. However, I thought the weather conditions were optimal: not too hot out, but not too cold. It was pleasant enough to wear a sweater without a coat.

The trees were only starting to change colour, just as they were last week. We saw some splashes of yellow and red leaves, but the trees were mostly green. There were plenty of leaves on the ground. Fall is on its way.

The Bruce Trail in the Niagara region
Tall trees in the forest, Niagara on the Lake
Stairs leading down into the forest, Niagara Falls

In this spot, there were some “stairs” created with some wooden boards down the hill. This was really helpful. There were less steep places that didn’t have steps that became a little bit slippery as the ground was moist.

Crossing a Major Highway

The Bruce Trail across the QEW Highway bridge

Next, we reached a clearing and a huge bridge. The bridge actually crosses over top of a main highway, the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW). The bridge was built by the Bruce Trail Conservancy and the government in order to link up the trail. Before the bridge, I have no idea how people must have crossed to the other side!

Soon after the bridge, we encountered one of the main attractions of this stretch of the Bruce Trail: The Screaming Tunnel.

The Screaming Tunnel Niagara

The Screaming Tunnel Niagara Falls

The Screaming Tunnel in Niagara Falls is a small, limestone tunnel constructed in the early 1900s that runs beneath some railroad tracks. It was built as a drainage tunnel to remove water from the surrounding farmlands. The farmers also walked through the tunnel to get beyond the railroad tracks. So, how did it get the name, “The Screaming Tunnel”?

The Screaming Tunnel Niagara Falls

As legend goes, the Screaming Tunnel is haunted by the ghost of a young girl. Back in the day, there was a fire in a nearby barn and a young girl with her clothes ablaze died within the tunnel. There is another version of the story where the young girl is set on fire by her angry father after he loses custody of his children. Apparently, if you light a wooden match at the stroke of midnight in the tunnel, you will hear the young girl’s dying screams.

The Screaming Tunnel Niagara Falls
The Screaming Tunnel Niagara Falls
The Screaming Tunnel Niagara Falls

Thankfully, we weren’t there at midnight and couldn’t test this theory. I wouldn’t say that I am the type that believes in ghosts haunting people, but I do still get scared quite easily by my own imagination running wild. The tunnel is haunting, atmosphere, and even a bit creepy. The three of us hiked through the Screaming Tunnel Niagara without any incidents, but I’m not sure I’d want to visit at night. Would you go hiking in a haunted tunnel?

Another interesting fact: the Screaming Tunnel was used in the 1983 David Cronenberg film, The Dead Zone (adapted from the Stephen King novel).

Hiking in Wine Country

Hiking in Wine Country Niagara - Bruce Trail

Once we escaped the tunnel, we continued along a quiet road in the middle of the country. We enjoyed typical country scenes and even came across a few farm animals. But, as we were in Niagara-on-the-Lake, there were also vineyards. We were in the heart of wine country in the Niagara Region. That meant walking past plenty of grapes growing on the vines on our hike.

Cows on our Bruce Trail hike
Chickens on the Bruce Trail hike

A Shoe Tree

Here’s a very interesting sight that I’d never seen before…a shoe tree. Yes, shoes on the side of a tree. Why were they there? Whose shoes were they? I’ve heard of shoe trees before where people toss their old pairs of shoes up into the trees (don’t ask why they do that either). I have never seen a tree with shoes deliberately nailed to the side of a tree trunk. Have you?

Shoe tree Niagara on the Lake
Shoe Tree Niagara Falls

Woodend Conservation Area

After walking down Warner Road for a little over a kilometer, we headed back into the forest leading into Woodend Conservation Area. There are numerous side trails that split off from the main trail. As we were following the Bruce Trail, we stuck to those white trail markers on the trees. We enjoyed gorgeous views of the forest and surrounding rock formations of the escarpment. While most of the trees were still green, it wouldn’t be long until they changed color.

Woodend Conservation Area Niagara
Woodend Conservation Area Niagara

And there’s Robyn and Shannon at the end of our hike. This is the spot where we’ll start our next hike!

Post-Hiking Beer & Pub Grub

Beer flight at the Merchant Ale House St Catharines Ontario

After a long afternoon of hiking, we were starving. We drove a short distance away to a local pub, the Merchant Ale House in St. Catharines. It is a microbrewery and restaurant, and I recommend trying their beer as it’s delicious. There are lots of vegan selections on the menu (which is rather rare for a pub!). We drank beer, ordered some “meatless wings”, and I ordered a soy chicken quesadilla with vegan cheese.

Beer flight at the Merchant Ale House St Catharines Ontario
Beer flight at the Merchant Ale House St Catharines Ontario
Vegan hot wings at the Merchant Ale House
Vegan quesadilla at the Merchant Ale House St Catharines

I highly recommend checking the restaurant out if you’re in the St. Catharines area. Plus, they have lots of live music there on the weekends. Many years ago, I used to play guitar and keyboard in a band, and my old band played a few shows at the Merchant Ale House.

If you go hiking on this section of the Bruce Trail, you’ll encounter haunted tunnels, peaceful vineyards, and a very random work of art. It certainly makes for an interesting day! We all thoroughly enjoyed our encounters with the Screaming Tunnel, even though we didn’t end up meeting a creepy ghost child.

Interested in more Bruce Trail hikes? Here’s Bruce Trail Hike #2 (previous walk) and read on for Bruce Trail Hike #4!

Bruce Trail Hike #3: Niagara Region
Hike #3
DateOctober 5, 2014
LocationMap 02, St. Catharines
Distance6.2km (x2 = 12.4km)
Total Trail Distance15.2km (878.8km remaining)
Start9.0 Mewburn Rd.
Finish15.2 Taylor Rd.

Have you visited any haunted places before?

25 Responses

  1. An Instagram Travel Photo Review of 2014 - Justin Plus Lauren
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    […] entire Bruce Trail along with my best friend and my sister, and we even hiked through a supposedly haunted tunnel.   […]

  2. Brett Andrews
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    Wow – Spell check …”your”.
    She is cute though :)

  3. Brett Andrews
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    You’re friend Shannon is very cute!! :) Is she single?
    I’m an outdoor enthusiast not to worry, in fact, I’m LoneHikerB from the BTC! I posted on your BTC blog.
    Keep it up!
    Brett

    • Lauren
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      Haha thanks for the inquiry, Brett! She has a boyfriend, sorry to say!

  4. Margherita @The Crowded Planet
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    Amazing! I loved this episode of the Bruce Trail too! Beautiful scenery and the pics are amazing…. I loved the Screaming Tunnel story. I have been in a haunted place before, my grandfather’s house. It was haunted by the ghost of a maid who died there 300 years ago. Her name is Anna Neumann. People usually make fun of me, but I have heard the banging pots that are said to be her signature call!

    • Lauren
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      Oh goodness, that sounds scary! I’d be out of there pretty quickly, I’m a big chicken!

  5. antonette - we12travel
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    Great post! Love it that the fall colors are setting in already, although I expect to see them here sometime soon, too. Screaming tunnels are so much fun. I can’t help trying them out, even now since I’m a grown up. i’m looking forward to reading more about your Bruce Trail hiking in the future!

    • Lauren
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      Thanks, Antonette! I have been hiking a bit more this spring/summer, though I had to put things a little on hold as it got way too hot out there. Bring on the Fall hikes! :)

  6. Megan Claire
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    Lol there is no way I would go near that tunnel around midnight!! Though it looks gorgeous during the day! Really loving all of your accounts from the bruce trail and looking forward to seeing you reach your goal of completing the whole thing! Keep the amazing photos coming!

    • Lauren
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      I wouldn’t want to go near midnight either…too scary! :) Thanks, Megan!

  7. Beth
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    I love the shoes on the tree!!
    And I, too, am I firm believe of ending every good hike with a drink… and even not-so good hikes too!

    • Lauren
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      All of my hikes seem to end this way…lol! I think it helps that I’m hiking near one of my favorite drinking spots.

  8. Lisa Goodmurphy
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    I have been enjoying your Bruce Trail posts because I’ve been saying for years that we should do some hiking on it but never have. I would never get my younger daughter to walk through the Screaming Tunnel if she knew the story behind it though!

    • Lauren
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      I hope that you get out to doing some hikes on the Bruce Trail – there are some truly lovely places to explore with great scenery! Maybe start at one that includes a waterfall, that’s always a great reward for the hiking!

  9. Kim
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    What beautiful photos. I love to hike and from your description and in depth details on the hike, it makes me want to take this hike.

    • Lauren
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      I hope that you do someday! :)

  10. The Screaming Tunnel – A Haunted Tunnel along the Bruce Trail. Read the story behind the tunnel: justinpluslauren…. - Totally Frickin Awesome
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    […] Screaming Tunnel – A Haunted Tunnel along the Bruce Trail. Read the story behind the tunnel: justinpluslauren…. Share on TumblrjQuery(document).load(function(){ […]

  11. Angela
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    Nice pictures. The hike looks fun and pretty for the fall. Also, every hike should end with beers. The shoes on the tree are something interesting and nothing I have seen before!!!

    • Lauren
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      Thank you! Yes, those shoes were quite interesting. I haven’t seen anything like it before either!

  12. Chris Boothman
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    I would love to find out about the history and meaning behind the shoe tree though perhaps the unknown is what keeps it so intriguing! I also think that beer sampling selection looks very inviting. You experienced a whole bunch of really cool, diverse attractions here and definitely provides a benchmark to inspire visitors to the region. Hopefully we can have similar positive experiences when we make our way to this part of the world!

    • Lauren
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      It was hard to tell if the tree was even on someone’s property or not…so I wouldn’t even know who to ask! Maybe it is best kept a mystery :) A little family of shoes. It was a great hike and a great day!

  13. Sammi Wanderlustin'
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    I love those taster beers you seem to get in America :) they are awesome!

    That tunnel would have freaked me out, it even looks like somewhere someone could’ve died! Ugh! Haha, I would’ve convinced myself I could hear screams during the day (I frighten easily, I can’t even watch Dr. Who)!

    • Lauren
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      I could definitely see it getting really scary at night, especially since you would need a flashlight! Eeep!

  14. Dave Cole
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    You guys saw quite a bit on this hike! That tunnel seems very eerie – not sure if I’d want to hang around it once the sun sets. And I firmly believe that every hike should be rewarded with a flight of craft beers. If I know those are ahead, I’ve always got a few kilometers left in the tank.

    • Lauren
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      Ending hikes with some beer is definitely a great reward, I think! :) It seems to happen quite often for me!