Fright Hike

Estherville to host haunted hike on Oct. 24

Fort Defiance State Park is going to be downright scary.

This will be the eighth year that Fort Defiance will play host to the Fright Hike hosted by the Estherville Chamber of Commerce. The spookiness will run from 6-9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24.

The Fright Hike is a roughly half a mile hike through the woods of Fort Defiance, which will be studded with volunteer groups acting out scary scenes as well as individuals waiting in the shadows for the chance to scare your socks off.

“The Fright Hike is a haunted hike through Fort Defiance State Park. It is a unique experience for our area,” said Lexie Ruter, the executive director of the Estherville Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a place that is already scary on its own at night — the woods in the dark are already scary and then we add more elements for more scares.”

This year, in an effort to make the outdoor event as safe as possible in light of the continuing coronavirus pandemic some additional safeguards will be in place. They are extending the line to accommodate greater social distancing space and they are mandating masks for everyone coming to the event.

This one-night-only event requires about 50 volunteers to pull together as it is all set up on that Saturday and then to help coordinate the crowds as well as the scares on the hike.

The hike is extremely popular and has grown dramatically over the eight years they’ve been hosting the event.

“Our first year we had 500 people. We were shocked. At the beginning, we thought if we get over 100 people that would be great. We only invested like $70 and just had a shoestring budget and people loved it,” Ruter said. “It has grown every year. Last year we had more than 1,200 people and we are kind of at max capacity.”

A few years ago, in an attempt to add more capacity as well as reduce the scare a bit, they added a “lights on” hour from 6-7 p.m.

The cost for the event is $5 per person and it takes about 25 minutes to walk through the haunted hike, according to Ruter.

After a spring and summer of canceled events, Ruter is very excited to be able to scare the socks off people.

“I am just really excited to have an event. We always love seeing what the volunteers come up with and watching them build the scenes and get into costume is really cool,” Ruter said. “I am looking forward to seeing the community being excited for something while still being safe and letting them have a fun night out.