Entering Grant Park’s Seven Bridges Trail, walkers see a sign encouraging them to “Enter this wild wood and view the haunts of nature.” If the local lore is to be believed, more than nature haunts these trails.
In the daytime, the trail is filled with joggers and families strolling with baby carriages, but at night, the trail belongs to the spirits that have made the park their home.
Claims of supernatural experiences are abound in Grant Park. Some people report seeing a misty apparition on the covered bridge, either coming up from the main bridge or suddenly appearing next to them as they cross the entrance over the ravine.
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Others have spotted a glowing apparition of a woman, clad in white, seeking children who are rumored to have long ago drowned in Lake Michigan’s cold depths on the unpaved portion of the trail near the beach.
Nocturnal walkers passing the stone bench have reported hearing terrified screams from deep in the empty woods.
Most frighteningly, those who continue undeterred along the paths have heard disembodied footsteps walking toward them, accompanied by heavy breathing. The footsteps and breathing grow nearer, then suddenly pass, leaving a feeling of dread in their wake.
Whether these are urban legends are based on a misunderstanding of the bridge’s welcome sign, or evidence of haunting is a question best answered by exploring the trails. Those who dare to walk the Seven Bridges trail by moonlight should note that Grant Park closes at 10 p.m. and is regularly patrolled by the police.
Anna Lardinois is the founder of the ghost tour company Gothic Milwaukee and the author of Storied and Scandalous Wisconsin, a collection of stories about our state that will be available in local stores and online beginning Nov. 1.