Haunted Attraction at Local Ski Slope Offers Double Black Diamond Scares... and Bunny Trail Options as Well

At this time of year, it seems as if every outdoor venue with even a smattering of cornstalks and a patch of pumpkins offers a haunted hayride or a scary walk through the woods.

Scream Mountain in Schwenksville, Pa., however, stands alone in a number of ways.

First, it begins with a chilling chair-lift ride up 535 feet to the summit of Spring Mountain. "We added the chair lift to our Halloween experience two years ago, and it gets the night off to an exciting start," says show director John Brown. As visitors coast through the chilly night air, the shrieks of the hapless guests who precede them pierce the murky darkness below. Before dismounting, a maniacal soul may actually leap up and grab hold of the chair, swinging directly below the seat as it approaches the drop-off point.

He's that eager to welcome you.

The other distinguishing feature is the attraction's backstory: The grisly tale of a onetime mining operation is based, at least at its core, in fact.

Other haunted locations may rely on fictional tales of nuclear holocausts or rabid viral epidemics. The legend behind Scream Mountain, in contrast, rests on documented artifacts found of a long-ago mining operation. Evidence shows that from the late 1800s to the 1920s, granite miners and their families lived and worked on the mountain, much to the chagrin of vacationers who had built exquisite homes there.

As a deterrent, the well-to-do's burned a number of storage shacks and equipment sheds, in a none-too-subtle message for the miners to move on.

A Denizen of Scream MountainBrown explains: "There have been excavations here, and charred remains of structures were found. We don't know if there were casualties or not. But we just took that a step further." The cast - 52 actors in all, representing a wide range of ages - plays the tortured souls who retaliate for their untimely demise.

Scream Mountain's uniqueness also unfolds in Brown's use of imagination rather than out and out gore. "There's not a lot of crazy animatronic stuff or a lot of higher technology scare tactics," he says. "It's mostly an old-fashioned surprise. I tell the actors: ‘You're entertaining them, not horrifying them.' It's more a startle and a laugh and then the guests run. It's a boyfriend and girlfriend, and she jumps in his arms. That kind of thing."

The thrills come in various combinations. The complete tour of the otherworldly mining camp involves a walk through and a ride through on a hay wagon. The hayride brings riders through 14 additional scenes, utilizing 30 scarers. Some of the hayride sights keep guests in full fright mode, while others tilt toward silly. "We've got a Hillbilly Camp out there that is just hilarious. A little too much time out by the still," he laughs.

The walk and the ride can be combined for a single ticket, or the hayride frights can be experienced on their own. If that's not enough heart-pounding action, a zip-line through the darkness can be tacked onto the evening's thrills. For younger fans not up to the rigors of the full terror, a 6:00 p.m. option allows them to experience the hayride in the daylight and without the scare-actors. The faint of heart can also opt for an "immunity necklace" that dials back the intensity of the walk and ride just a bit.

In Austria in the movies, the hills are alive with the sound of music.

In Schwenksville in October, the hills are alive with the sound of screaming.

This Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (October 24-27) are your last chances to brave the mountain.

The childhood tactic of dealing with things that go bump in the night by pulling the bed sheets over your head is still an effective coping technique, by the way. If you want to quiver in luxury, check out the hotel recommendations on our website.