Hauntings and horror in the Laurel Highlands
Harvest moons, scarecrows, pumpkin patches, frost on the garden’s final blooms, all signal autumn’s arrival.
And with it Halloween, a season of witches, ghosts, things that go bump in the night and doors creaking open at haunted houses.
Up for a scare? Dare your friends and family to climb aboard that (haunted) hay wagon, or walk past that (fake, right?) ghoul.
If you love to scream, or watch others clutch their friends (or their hearts) with fear, pick your place of fright and torture — time’s running out for local scare houses and their creepy, fascinating occupants.
And, yes, there are a couple of options for the younger and/or scare-easily set who prefer their frights more mild than wild.
The Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau has thoughtfully prepared a road map of sorts to help instill dread and a visit full of thrills and chills. Below are a few options to check into, if you dare.
Load up for lonesome
Lonesome Valley Farms is more than three decades into spooking adults and entertaining families at its 180 Fairgrounds Road, Greensburg, site.
Those looking for a fright can start with a haunted hay ride and maze trail that ends at Slotter Farm, where the deranged Will B. Slotter and his family are waiting with a barn full of crossbred mutants and other horrors.
The non-haunted Get Lost Corn Maze gets a design update every year, so even if you’re a repeat visitor you may find it challenging to exit the maze.
The younger set will enjoy the Pumpkin Patch Playland (open 2-6 p.m.)
Details: 724-423-4290 or lonesomevalleyfarms.com
Can you break free from the Hollow?
Travel to Somerset County to visit Haunted Hollow, 126 Woodland Road, Rockwood, and follow the twisted tale of the Bruner Boarding House. The story goes that each of the rooms’ tenants befell a different fate.
And be careful of evil mistress Mad Mae and caretaker Willie, who are in hot pursuit of visitors.
You will need your wits about you when Willie locks you in his shack. You have only 15 minutes to solve puzzles and find clues and make your Haunted Hollow Escape before the madman returns.
Visitors also can enjoy hay rides and corn mazes.
Details: 814-926-3133 or hauntedhollow.net
Government secrets and scares
If you find the idea of government experiments and secrets, especially those that go awry, scary then perhaps a visit to Uniontown’s Haunted Hills Estate, 236 Rolling Hills Estate Road, is in order.
Visit a warehouse where half-human, half-machine “super soldiers” were manufactured.
Walk — or run — along the Deadwoods Challenge Trail. Those likely are not flowers being planted, or harvested.
Enter the tragic Hill house, reportedly haunted by a man desperate to resurrect his beloved wife.
And visit the new midway, featuring Halloween-themed games.
A new Day of the Dead Festival is planned on Nov. 2, featuring an all-night party with ghouls, ghosts, DJ and fireworks. Those looking for a more up-close-and-personal experience can attend the Nov. 8-9 Lights Out event, where touching of visitors, typically prohibited, will be permitted.
Details: 724-984-5915 or hauntedhillsestate.com
Back to school
The idea of returning to school holds its own scary memories for most of us.
So entering the Crawford School of Terror, 125 N. 7th St., Connellsville, might be especially intimidating.
Visitors enter the former elementary school and move through the 3-D Playground of Fears, ending up at the kidnapped blindfolded experience.
Haven’t had enough? There also is a 60-minute escape room experience, sure to inspire more dread than a trip to the principal’s office.
New for the 2019 school year is Escape Crawford, a full 60-minute escape room experience where you discover the legend of the Crawford School and, hopefully, a way out.
Details: 724-277-6851 or crawfordschoolofterror.com
More Fayette frights
Travel to Smithfield, Fayette County, to visit Fright Farm, 2043 Springhill Furnace Road, where the fearless (and foolhardy) will be tempted by its attractions, including a festival midway with games, bonfires and classic horror film screenings.
You don’t want to miss (although you may be missed) the Hayride of No Return, the haunted mansion, the clinic, the slaughter grounds and the abyss.
Details: 724-564-7644 or frightfarm.com
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .