America's Scariest Trails: Yosemite's Supernatural Wind

Go ahead and hike to this park's famous lakes and waterfalls. Just watch your step–and your back.

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No less an authority than America’s first park ranger, Galen Clark, claimed to have heard a ghost while exploring Yosemite in 1857. In his memoir, Clark wrote about the encounter in the “Legend of Grouse Lake.” After arriving at the lake in the southwest corner of Yosemite–and naming it–Clark “heard a distinct wailing cry, somewhat like the cry of a puppy when lost.” He assumed that passing Native Americans “must have left one of their young dogs behind.” But later that night, he met local tribal members who told him: That was no dog.

“A long time ago, an Indian boy had been drowned in the lake,” one of them said. “Every time anyone passed there, he always cried after them. No one dared to go in the lake, for he would catch them by the legs and pull them down and they would be drowned.”

Yosemite’s famed waterfalls are also haunted, allegedly with fatal consequences. Among the malevolent spirits: witches who dwell in the pool at the base of 2,420-foot Yosemite Falls, and an evil wind, known as Po-ho-no, that visits 620-foot Bridalveil Fall. According to legend, this soft wind lures unsuspecting travelers to the edge, then pushes them over to the rocks–and certain death–below. More than 900 people have died in the park’s recorded history, and incautious hikers plummet from Yosemite’s waterfalls almost every year.

Hike it
See two of Yosemite’s finest cascades on the 6.2-mile Nevada Falls Loop. Go in spring for high water–and stay back.