Not only is it October — the spookiest month of the year — but we also saw a Friday the 13th fall in this month. As such, the reporters from MetroNews’ North Central division are going to visit four of the most haunted and/or most frightening places in North Central West Virginia. Consider this your area primer on where to go for regional scares this Halloween.
MOATSVILLE, W.Va. — For seconds that seem to last forever in the pitch black of quiet Barbour County, all you can hear is that crunch-crunch-crunch of the gravel beneath your feet.
Sickler Farm, located just outside of Philippi in Moatsville, decided to get into the Halloween spirit this year by offering a Haunted Trail attraction that is sure to spook you as much as anything this year — and for central and southern West Virginians it’s a bit geographically closer than the southern Pennsylvania Fright Farm attraction.
Lisa and Jeff Sickler, who run the farm, weren’t expecting the large turnout that they have already seen in the opening weeks of the trail’s existence. That turnout through just six days of open tours: nearly 500 people, with a sizable increase from the first weekend to the second weekend.
“We wanted to come up with an idea that would help us go into the winter,” Lisa Sickler said, “We were trying to think about what kinds of things people value, and it’s doing things with their families. So we came up with the haunted trail.”
Visitors have enjoyed the tension as Sickler Farm continues to build through the roughly half-mile trail. In the beginning, in the thick of the trees, it feels never ending — and like anything could be lurking around the corner. It’s good for a scare or two, when you consider participants have nothing but a single, modified flashlight on a trail that looks like it was ripped right out of J.K. Rowling’s pages describing The Forbidden Forest in the Harry Potter series.
Josh Rodeheaver, a Preston County native who visited the farm this weekend as part of a group of six, said the scares were definitely worth the trip.
“I liked the jump scares that happened,” he said. “They were few and far between, but they were awesome.”
Harrison County resident Eddie Sykes was part of Rodeheaver’s group, and said the “few and far between nature” of the scares is perhaps what had him on edge the most. He said he was more scared at times when the silence reigned supreme for stretches that seemingly went too long before you’d see the inevitable hanging inanimate object meant to represent a body.
“It does scare you more when you know something is going to happen, but you don’t know exactly when it’s going to happen,” Sykes said.
Tyler Hillery, also of Preston County, had the unenviable job of leading his group through the dark woods of Sickler Farm and the difficult-to-navigate corn maze that follows.
“Took a left, then a right, then a left,” he said. “Then I was lost.”
Lost with none but some friendly costumed-ghouls in the shadows offering up advice in a maze that has an other-worldly feel to it. You wouldn’t be able to tell if the advice coming from the actors was good or not — or whether to follow it. Lisa Sickler said she has received a lot of positive feedback from visitors, and they are already planning for next year’s Halloween.
“Everybody has been pretty positive and encouraging for our first year giving this a try,” Sickler said.
And when they’re not busy trying to scare you, they operate as a farm that strives to use organic practices — and are a regular seller at the Morgantown Farmer’s Market. The Haunted Trail will be open each weekend in October through Halloween.
Alex Wiederspiel and Brittany Murray contributed to this story. In our next installment, the two reporters will cautiously pursue all the paranormal leads at one of the most popular haunts for spooky activity in West Virginia: Weston’s Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.