With a nickname like the Golden State, California is probably the last state you can imagine to have dark urban legends. However, the whole state has so many spooky, hair-raising stories that have survived for hundreds of years.
Locals from Del Norte to San Diego have experienced paranormal events that drove them to doubt everything they believed in. And, if you're up to the challenge, you too can test your belief in the paranormal by trying to disprove these legends.
Be forewarned - many have tried before you only to fail and become true believers. While some returned home with physical injuries, others have lost their lives in the process.
Be especially wary while investigating the following eight as they’re the most terrifying urban legends in California. After all, they’re the real deal.
8 Of The Most Famous, Creepy Urban Legends In California
Table of Contents
- 8) Everything Goes UP on the Gravity Hill in Whittier
- 7) Death Awaits Everyone at Turnbull Canyon
- 6) You’re Never Alone in the Santa Lucia Mountains
- 5) Char Man Forever Lurks On Top of San Antonio Creek
- 4) Skinwalkers are Out Hunting in Joshua Tree National Park
- 3) Taking Anything from Bodie Will Bring its Curse to Your Home
- 2) You Can Summon the Ghost of Stow Lake (At Your Own Risk)
- 1) Anyone Alone at the Hollywood Sign is Accompanied by Death
8) Everything Goes UP on the Gravity Hill in Whittier
Whether you’re at the gravity hill in Moorpark, Moreno Valley or Altadena, your car will roll up the slope while in neutral. Though scientists have tried explaining this phenomenon, there are more urban legends justifying it than theories.
Of the state’s many gravity hills, Whittier’s Gravity Hill is the spookiest.
Located at the rose gardens of Rose Hills Memorial, the hill used to be part of sacred burial grounds. Construction, combined with Satanic cult rituals, awoke the spirits from their slumber. That’s why they push vehicles bicycles and skateboards off the hill with full force.
But if you experience strange knocking sounds in your car, DON’T step out until it stops moving. As the ‘hands’ pushing the vehicle are so strong, the last thing you want is to anger their owners.
7) Death Awaits Everyone at Turnbull Canyon
Hikers love Turnbull Canyon, but go there at your own risk. In addition to mountain lions and rattlesnakes, death lurks in the trail between Hacienda Heights and Whittier.
The Gabrielino Indians called the land ‘Hutukngna’, which means ‘The Place of the Devil’. Many believe the Indians killed for not converting to Catholicism are at unrest here.
Further intensifying the area’s paranormal activities are the satanic rituals once held there. Most of these involved sacrificing children from nearby orphanages. Though the cult disappeared one night, people in Turnbull Canyon still see hooded figures, mutilated children, and fiery creatures on the trails.
Other deaths in the area include a teenager electrocuted at the ruins of an asylum there and the 29 victims of the plane that crashed there. So, be careful or else your name will be added to this forever growing list.
6) You’re Never Alone in the Santa Lucia Mountains
Stretching between Avila Beach and Monterey, the Santa Lucia Mountains is the home of the Dark Watchers. Described as human-like giants seen mainly at twilight, these eerie entities are always staring into space from the ridges and peaks.
No one knows who they are or where they came from. But the first time they were mentioned was in the cave paintings of the Chumash Indians. They’ve also been mentioned often in literature, such as the story “Flight” by John Steinbeck and the poem "Such Counsels You Gave to Me" by Robinson Jeffers.
While they may seem harmless, the Dark Watchers have been known to bring bad luck to those who see them. So, avoid traveling alone or else you won’t be saved from the isolated Santa Lucia Mountains and whatever creatures lurk there.
5) Char Man Forever Lurks On Top of San Antonio Creek
Ojai’s Camp Comfort County Park is famous for many spooky spirits. There’s the ghost of a bride wearing a bloody wedding dress, a horsewoman reenacting her death, and a headless motorcyclist. But none of these have been seen as often as Char Man.
No one knows how the fiery entity residing on the two-lane concrete bridge spanning San Antonio Creek came to be. Because of its black, charred skin, urban legends believe it was the victim of the fire of 1948. But there are others that claim that Char Man is actually a hideous monster.
Regardless of whether he was a man or a beast, this entity has reached out to people several times. Many of the people living nearby have been engulfed by fumes before seeing it. Those who faint always woke up to a small fire nearby, reminding them of their spooky visitor.
If you’re in the area and you smell the rancid smell of burning flesh, don’t linger around. And if you’re driving on the bridge along Creek Road, don’t stop for a closer look at Char Man. Continue straight to your destination or else you may not be as lucky.
4) Skinwalkers are Out Hunting in Joshua Tree National Park
Navajo Indians have hidden the existence of yee naagloshii, or "he who walks on all fours", until a century ago. These not-quite-human entities were shamans or medicine people who used their powers to hurt others.
Now, they take the forms of coyotes, owls, wolves, or foxes to hunt the living at Joshua Tree National Park. Terrorized campers claim to hearing the cries of wildlife or injured children before feeling claws and teeth sink in them.
Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky to survive these attacks. That’s why many people were found dead in the national park. There’s also a growing list of missing people, especially in the parts in Riverside County.
Stay safe and only travel around Joshua Tree National Park in larger numbers. Though that may not save you once a skinwalker has its eyes on you.
3) Taking Anything from Bodie Will Bring its Curse to Your Home
As a fan of everything paranormal, you probably won’t resist visiting Bodie. An authentic ghost town, it’s the forever home to many entities, including a giggling child and a Chinese maid. But whatever you do, NEVER pick up anything from there.
The inhabitants of this old gold-mining town were fiercely possessive about everything there. That’s why their ghosts ensure that everything they left behind stay that way. Even if you take a rock from Bodie, you’re bound to experience misfortune and tragedy. Possibly even after you’ve returned it.
Park rangers have received many items that were taken by visitors. There’s even an album filled with letters from those suffering from the curse.
So, while you’re there, don’t even think of grabbing an authentic souvenir. If not for your own, for your loved ones’ sake.
2) You Can Summon the Ghost of Stow Lake (At Your Own Risk)
If you’re ever at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park, you may be tempted to summon its most famous ghost. According to most accounts, the Ghost of Stow Lake was a mother whose baby fell in the lake. After drowning while trying to save her child, she haunts the lake’s edges and asks visitors about her baby.
Legend has it that visitors can summon her by saying “White lady, white lady, I have your baby” three times. The best place to do so is near the Pioneer Women and Children statue, which is spooky as it changes expressions at night.
If she deems you worthy and appears in front of you, she’ll ask for her baby. If you say that you have the child, she’ll haunt you until the day you die. And if you say you don’t, she’ll drag you to the lake herself.
So, don’t summon her unless you’re willing to live forever with a ghost or make Stow Lake your forever home.
1) Anyone Alone at the Hollywood Sign is Accompanied by Death
The Hollywood sign gained a lot of attention recently when someone changed it to ‘Hollyweed’. But it caught locals’ attention for another reason altogether. Legend has it that death accompanies anyone going to the sign alone.
What probably fueled this legend is the Lady in White. A scary figure with a skeletal face and hollow eyes, she was once an actress named Peg Entwistle. A bad review drove her to climb to the top of the H and hurl herself to the ground.
But Peg isn't the only person to die there. Many people have committed suicide at the Hollywood Sign. Not long ago, a man's decapitated head and body parts were also discovered there. Considering how the Grim Reaper is always busy there, never head there alone.