[Updated August 8, 2023]
From the mysterious disappearance of the “lost colony” of Roanoke Islan) to the dark history of the Cherokee removal and the Civil Rights era, this history is riddled with tragic tales and haunted places in NC.
Visiting them can provide an ominous thrill for anyone with an interest in the paranormal.
Of course, these haunting experiences are all the more exciting when there’s some historical context to go along with the place.
To that end, we’ve put together this list of some of the most famous haunted places in North Carolina and the spooky tales behind them, just in time for Halloween!
Read on to learn more about the spookiest sites and stories of haunted North Carolina…
READ MORE: The 10 Best North Carolina Haunted Houses
Most Haunted Places in North Carolina Guide
- Battleship North Carolina (Wilmington)
- Biltmore Estate (Asheville)
- Brown Mountain Lights (Linville Gorge)
- Demon Dog (Valle Crucis)
- Devil’s Tramping Ground (Chatham County)
- Duke Mansion (Charlotte)
- Grandfather Mountain (Linville)
- Great Dismal Swamp (NC/Virginia Border)
- Grove Park Inn (Asheville)
- Historic Brookstown Inn (Winston-Salem)
- Latta Place (Huntersville)
- Lydia’s Bridge (Jamestown)
- Mordecai House (Raleigh)
- Paint Rock (Hot Springs)
- Teach’s Hole (Ocracoke Island)
1. Battleship North Carolina (Wilmington NC)
This vessel was involved in all of the major offensive strikes by the US Navy in the Pacific Ocean during World War 2, and it once survived a torpedo attack from a Japanese ship.
Nevertheless, the USS North Carolina has seen its share of tragedies, including several soldiers who died in battle and one sailor who was washed overboard.
Inexplicable figures and out-of-place shadows have been reported by visitors and staff, and even professional paranormal investigators have had ghostly experiences here.
Ghost Hunts USA offers overnight tours on the ship a couple of nights a month, but self-guided tours are also available daily from 8:00AM– 5:00PM.
2. The Biltmore Estate (Asheville NC)
Vanderbilt bought some 125,000 acres of land to be the grounds of the opulent mansion (some of which the family later donated to create Pisgah National Forest).
He established an impressive art and artifact collection, as well as a library full of rare editions. After he died in 1914, his grandsons ultimately inherited the estate and turned it it a tourist attraction.
Vanderbilt loved to spend time in his Biltmore library when storms rolled in, and visitors have reported seeing a shadowy figure there when the weather turns gloomy.
Additionally, the ghost of Edith Vanderbilt is known to visit her husband there, and many visitors have reported hearing her whispering “George” to get his attention.
The Biltmore house is open to guided and audio tours all year round.
READ MORE: The 35 Best Things to Do in Asheville NC
3. The Brown Mountain Lights (Linville Gorge NC)
More logical explanations for the Brown Mountain Lights have been offered, but never proven.
A German scientist was immediately disputed when he explained them as inflamed nitrous vapors. A US Geological Survey decided they were locomotive headlights. A pulp magazine, The Argosy, claimed it was aliens.
Paranormal investigators and science professors have since tried to get to the bottom of this unexplained phenomenon, but no verified answers have been found.
Viewing locations for seeing the Brown Mountain Lights include Brown Mountain Overlook (off NC-181) and Wiseman’s View in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area (SR 1238).
4. The Demon Dog (Valle Crucis NC)
Though Valle Crucis is widely recognized as a wholesome setting, there’s a churchyard cemetery off of Hwy 194 where things reportedly get a little supernatural from time to time.
Two young men out for a late-night drive under the full moon reported seeing something leap from behind a headstone and run out into the road.
When they turned to see what had nearly killed them, it was a huge, human-sized dog with black hair, gnarly yellow teeth, and eyes aglow.
The dog chased them for miles, reportedly reaching speeds over 60 miles per hour. They were only able to shake the dog loose when they traversed a bridge, where the two streams crossed.
5. The Devil’s Tramping Ground (Chatham County NC)
About 10 miles from Siler City in Chatham County NC, there’s a strange footpath that forms a circle 40 feet in diameter. Locals claim that this is where Satan walks to contemplate his evil deeds.
The path is completely free of vegetation, and the only thing that’ll grow inside the ring is tough clumps of grass. Even sticks left in the pathway are cleared away by the following morning.
Some folks claim the area was a meeting place for Cherokee people or other Native Americans, who made the circle bare with their ceremonial dances.
Others link the site to the Lost Colony of Roanoke, citing that the area was once called Croatan after a tribal chief was buried there. (The same name was famously carved into a tree on Roanoke Island.)
Scientists have tried to explain the Devil’s Tramping Ground as a former molasses mill, saying that the spot was made bare due to incessant circular treading.
Samples have shown the soil here to be high in salt, possibly due to remnants of salt licks in the area.
There is an NC Scenic Byway that was originally named (by the NC DOT) Devil’s Tramping Grounds Road, and it is free to travel. But the Devil’s Tramping Ground site is currently located on private property.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Fairs in North Carolina to Visit
6. The Duke Mansion (Charlotte NC)
Located in Charlotte’s Myers Park neighborhood, the Duke Mansion was built in 1915 as the home of James “Buck” Duke (of Duke University and Duke Energy fame).
But the property was briefly owned by Jon Avery in the 1920s, which is when the paranormal happenings reportedly began.
After Avery’s wife was hospitalized for severe mental health issues, the lonely Jon began renting a room to a young writer, Maggie, with whom he eventually fell in love.
When Avery refused to leave his wife, Maggie quickly broke off their affair. But Avery got her to promise to meet him at the home one year later, dead or alive.
Maggie waited until nearly midnight on the same day, one year later. Jon Avery showed up just in time, and the two reached out for one another as Avery said, “Dead or alive.”
It turned out that Avery had actually died a few days earlier. Those tending to him in his final days recalled him wondering aloud if he would be well enough to make it to the meeting.
7. The Ghost Hiker of Grandfather Mountain (Linville NC)
This perennial tourist hotspot was named after the profile of a bearded man’s face made by the outline of the mountain’s summit.
But he isn’t the only fella to be on the lookout for when you’re in the area. A phantom hiker is also said to take the shape of an older, rather grizzled-looking bearded man.
The ghost reportedly looks as though he’s from the mid-20th century, and carries a military-style backpack and a long cane. But there does not seem to be anything to fear from this phantom.
He’s believed to be either the spirit of a lost hiker looking for his way home, or a guy who simply loved the Appalachian Mountains so much that he chose to stay for eternity!
8. The Great Dismal Swamp (NC/Virginia Border)
The swamp was home to Native Americans over 13,000 years ago, and George Washington tried to convert the wetlands into farmland. It also was home to Maroon communities of escaped slaves.
Many have drowned in its waters. Mysterious lights have been seen in the forest and gliding over the water. Hunters have lost bears and deer, claiming they disappeared without a trace of blood.
Perhaps the most famous tale from the Great Dismal Swamp was that of two Native American lovers.
The woman died before the wedding and was buried in the swamp. The man later drowned while paddling out, because he swore he could see her in a white canoe.
Now the ill-fated can reportedly be seen from time to time paddling on Lake Drummond together.
9. The Grove Park Inn (Asheville NC)
Although the ghost remains unidentified, it is believed that she’s a young woman who fell 5 stories to her death– from Room 545 to the Palm Court Atrium– back in 1920.
A contractor who was repairing the room felt a presence, got the chills, and felt a tugging on his ear. He ran out of the room scared out of his wits and never returned.
Since then, many guests have reported encounters with the Pink Lady, most of which involve being touched by her. But the general consensus seems to be that she is gentle, not malevolent.
10. Historic Brookstown Inn (Winston-Salem NC)
In 1977, the building made it onto the National Register of Historic Places. By the early ’80s, it had been converted into the Historic Brookstown Inn.
Some folks believe the historic inn is haunted by various spirits due to its proximity to Old Salem, while others claim it to have supernatural entities of its own.
Guests and staff have reported seeing the apparition of Sally, a woman who was murdered on the fourth floor back when the building was still a mill.
Visitors claim to have been woken in the night by the sounds of her screaming as she was pushed down the elevator shaft by a fellow worker. If you want to investigate for yourself, book a night in room 401!
Just don’t be shocked when you are awakened by Sally patting your feet in the middle of the night. We were thankful that we stayed on the inn’s second floor.
11. Latta Place (Huntersville NC)
This popular North Carolina haunted attraction is located in Huntersville, a small town near Charlotte.
Once an early 19th century cotton plantation, Latta Place changed hands a number of times over the years before it was finally added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
People flock to the house now to gain an understanding of what life was like in the early 1800s.
Ghost hunters also visit the area to hear stories from recent staff members, who swear they have encountered supernatural phenomena believed to be the spirits of the original Latta family.
Some say they’ve hears sounds of children playing in the attic, furniture being inexplicably dragged across floors, and a mirror being tossed across a room without suffering a crack.
12. Lydia’s Bridge (Jamestown NC)
Located near Greensboro NC, Jamestown is home to two historic bridges that are said to be haunted by a young woman named Lydia.
The spirit of Lydia has been spotted there a number of times by passersby. She’s most often seen on foggy, rainy nights, wearing a formal dress and searching for help.
Locals believe that Lydia was the victim of a fatal car accident many years ago, when she and a young man were on their way to prom.
She is said to haunt the underpasses of both bridges.
13. Mordecai House (Raleigh NC)
This grand house dates back to 1785, when it was built by Joel Lane. Its name comes from Moses Mordecai, who married into the Lane family.
When his first wife, Margret Lane, died, he married her younger sister, Ann.
The supernatural contingent of the house is thought to include the spirit of Mary Willis Mordecai Turk, who lived in the home from 1858 to 1937.
Watch out for a ghostly figure wearing an early 19th-century grey dress. You might even catch a glimpse, or hear the sounds of her playing the piano in the drawing room.
14. Paint Rock (Hot Springs NC)
Paint Rock has been a landmark for eons, featuring one of the best examples of Native American pictographs in North Carolina.
The figure of a lone Cherokee man has been seen walking through the forest near Paint Rock.
15. Teach’s Hole (Ocracoke Island NC)
Located in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Ocracoke Island is riddled with ghostly stories, particularly the tale of Teach’s Hole.
Ocracoke Island was the home and final resting place of the pirate Blackbeard (real name Edward Teach). He was known as a great intimidator, inspiring white flags at just the sight of him.
Despite having given up piracy and pledged allegiance to the Queen, Teach was beheaded in 1718 by Lt. Robert Maynard of the British Royal Navy.
Maynard was sent by the governor of Virginia, who was not convinced the famed pirate was truly willing to give up the lucrative trade.
Blackbeard is now said to haunt the land near where his body was tossed into the sea (known as the Point, or Teach’s Hole). Witnesses report seeing him pacing the shoreline, looking for his missing head.
Ocracoke Island can be accessed via a state ferry or personal boat. –by Jonathon Engels & Emma Gallagher; featured image of the Dismal Swamp by Greg Sanders via USFWS