The Road to Nowhere

On the outskirts of Bryson City, there is a long winding road that continuously twists up the mountain, and just as the road seems to never end, there is a tunnel. A tunnel that leads to nowhere.

The main entrance of the tunnel. Photo by Keegan Wiggins

Unofficially named “The Road to Nowhere,” by local residents, Lakeview Drive, a six-mile road,  offers visitors scenic hiking trails. However, there is a darker element. The Road to Nowhere is also known for its ominous atmosphere and supposedly haunted land.

The ominous atmosphere begins at the beginning of the road where a sign reads “The Road to Nowhere, A Broken Promise,” greets visitors. Followed by a long winding road isolated in the woods, the Road to Nowhere provides the perfect opportunity for thrill seekers to scare themselves.

One thrill seeker documented her experience on the website, your ghost stories. A woman under the name Gummybearlover85 describes in great detail her paranormal experience at the Road to Nowhere. She breaks down her experience into three eerie instances.

First, as Gummybearlover85 was about to enter the tunnel with her two friends, she saw two robed figures that beckoned her further. However, when she pointed this out to her friends, neither of them saw anything.

As they continued into the tunnel, Gummybearlover85’s flashlight went out. In a moment of fear, she closed her eyes. She heard a man whispering, “Heather, open your eyes.” Again, her friends didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

The sign that greets visitors at the beginning of the 6 mile road. Photo by Keegan Wiggins

Lastly, just as she was leaving the tunnel, she saw group of people wearing buckskins. In an attempt to grab their attention, she yelled, “Hello!” A child in the group waved to her and giggled before the entire group vanished into thin air. Again, her friends didn’t see the people or hear the giggle.

Curious of the haunted land, I went, alongside friends, on three occasions to see for myself if the Road to Nowhere really is haunted.

My first trip to the Road to Nowhere was at 11 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, with my two friends, Alexis Céspedes and Karsen Campbell.

Our journey to the Road to Nowhere did not start off well. Our drive to Bryson City went smooth, but as soon as we tried to find the Lakeview Drive, we took a wrong turn and got lost.

After roughly 30 minutes of mindless driving, we managed to find Lakeview Drive. However, tensions were high.

“I was really nervous the whole time,” said Céspedes. “It was creepy on the way up because we passed the high school and their mascot was the devil. A coincidence, I think not!”

Although the drive is only six miles once you are on Lakeview Drive, it felt as though the road was never going to end. Everything we saw from tall, willowy trees to rocks that glistened red in the headlights continued to frighten us as we slowly made our way to the tunnel.

Karsen Campbell entering the tunnel. Photo by Keegan Wiggins

Once we made it to the tunnel, we couldn’t get out the car due to how scared we were. Immediately, we turned the car around and raced back down the mountain and back to Cullowhee.

Determined to experience the Road to Nowhere, I went back a second time around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12, with an even bigger group of friends. This time the group included Céspedes, Yelina Trejo, Morgan France and CC Billings as well as their dog, Emmett.

Our goal was to get there before sunset, but by the time we made it to the tunnel it was already dark.

Unlike the time before, we all managed to get out of the car. However, both Billings and Trejo immediately turned back and took Emmett to the car with them, leaving Céspedes, France and myself to the enter the tunnel on our own.

While I explore the tunnel with Céspedes and France, Trejo and Billings waited anxiously for us to return to the car.

“So when we were in the car waiting around 6:15, we were like if they aren’t back by 6:30, 6:45 at the latest, we’re calling the cops,” said Trejo. “But, we didn’t have any service. So, we didn’t know how we were going to do that, but we weren’t going to go in there and look for them cause we didn’t want to die too.”

Alexis Céspedes took a photo with her flash on at the Road to Nowhere, and this was the result. Photo by Alexis Céspedes

Before we entered the tunnel, Céspedes and I tried to take pictures of the tunnel. Céspedes used her flash on her phone, but only came up with a hazy photo. I was using my Canon camera, but it refused to work even when I used flash.

Slowly with linked arms, Céspedes, France and I entered the tunnel.

We used the flashlights from our phones to illuminate the increasingly dark tunnel. As we trekked on, the tunnel seemed to grow longer and longer with each step.

Although we didn’t hear anything weird, the atmosphere alone was creepy enough to frighten us.

Once we made it to the end of the tunnel, we quickly turned around and hightailed it to the car ready to leave.

Recalling her experience, Trejo found our isolation to be the scariest part.

“Being on that road. Five girls, no service,” said Trejo. “That was scary.”

Unsatisfied with my previous trips to the Road to Nowhere, I went back a third time at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14 ,with Kate Shronce and Campbell.

Going during the day was considerably less creepy than at night.

Kate Shronce and Karsen Campbell exploring the trails behind the tunnel. Photo by Keegan Wiggins

We walked through the tunnel, reading the vandalism that stretched alongside each wall of the tunnel. The most noticeable difference in the tunnel was the temperature drop. Outside the tunnel, the weather felt great, but once we were inside the temperature felt as though it had dropped almost 20 degrees. The three of us began shivering as we continued walking through the tunnel.

Once we came out the other end, the weather felt great again. We decided to walk down the hiking trail outside of the tunnel to see if we could find any of the cemeteries or abandoned cars that are remnants of the community before they left the area.

However, we didn’t find anything after 30 minutes of walking, so we went back to the tunnel. It was when we went through the second time that things turned for the worst.

Halfway through the tunnel, we paused, so I could collect audio and take pictures. Just before I started recording, both Shronce and Campbell heard a little girl mumble something from directly behind them. Click the play button below to hear the audio of their reaction.

“On the way back about halfway, we were just standing around listening trying to get some audio and we heard a little girl,” said Shronce. “I was about ready to run; It was so creepy.”

Kate Shronce moments before hearing the little girl in the tunnel. Photo by Keegan Wiggins

While I didn’t hear the little girl, I did hear what sounded like footsteps above us, which is impossible because there isn’t a trail that goes above the tunnel.

After hearing the little girl, we didn’t stay in the tunnel for long.

While I’m still not sure whether the Road to Nowhere is haunted or not, I think it makes a great trip for thrill seekers that want to scare themselves.

To learn more about the history behind the Road to Nowhere, click here.

To test your bravery, click here for directions to the Road to Nowhere.