Not many Halloween Haunts in our neck of the woods exploit outdoor potential. The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride comes to mind, along with the walking portion of the back lot terror tram in Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood. Way down south toward Mexico, San Diego's Balboa Park offers a fine example: The Haunted Trail - a half-hour hike through ominous terrain teaming with creatures of the night.
The Balboa Park Haunted Trail is a single attraction, but like the Reign of Terror Haunted House, it contains multiple environments, beginning with The Experiment Maze before sending visitors on the mile-long excursion. There, you will encounter everything a church haunted by the Nun to Camp Crystal Lake, haunted by Jason; there is a decrepit cemetery, a fun house from IT, and a school bus full of creepy babies - are they dolls, or are they real?
The walk is mostly outdoors, but there are several indoor settings. For the most part, exteriors provide atmosphere in between the more intense interiors, but there are some ghouls lurking just outside the exits, ready to pounce just when you think you have escaped.
Some of the indoor settings are simple corridors, but there are also some awesome displays that raise the property values to impressive heights: the towering Pennywise figure is fantastic; the school bus is real; and the cemetery could pass for a setting in a classic black-and-white horror movie. The cast of characters is mostly themed to their surroundings, and they are hungry for victims.
One of the longest walk-throughs we have encountered, The Balboa Park Haunted Trail is definitely a workout, and the uneven terrain is obviously not wheelchair accessible. But for hardy hikers, the trek is worth the cardio, because the scenic views offer a bewildering variety of frightful sights - enough to fill a half-dozen indoor mazes.
Balboa Park Haunted Trail Rating
With tickets ranging from $28 to $35 dollars, the Balboa Park Haunted Trail might sound expensive for a single attraction, but it contains a number of characters and settings equivalent to half a dozen indoor mazes, making it an excellent value for your haunt dollars.
Located at the corner of Balboa Drive & Juniper in Balboa Park, San Diego, The Haunted Trail is open daily through November 2 except Monday, October 28. Hours vary, usually 6:30-11pm. More info here: hauntedtrail.net.