Turnbull Canyon is a gorgeous little California hiking trail area nestled within the Puente Hills Preserve that is known for spectacular outdoor recreation, amazing views, and more urban legends than can fit into a season of American Horror Story.
Ghosts, cultists, murderers, and Indian curses...yeah, all of that plus some are among the legends you will hear when talking about what some call 'Hells Gates', though very few of these legends have any historical backing or proof.
For instance, take the very first legend, that of the tribes that used to call this area home. Well, not exactly Turnbull Canyon, which they actually called Hutulegna or The Dark Place. It is said that when the Spanish moved into the surrounding area they pushed the Indians out and forced them into the canyon, where most were either converted to Christianity or killed. Several hikers have told stories of feeling as though they are being watched and hunted deep into their hikes, which counts as legend #1.
The next comes about around the Great Depression, a time in which Turnbull Canyon was said to have an overpopulation of cultists who donned black robes and supposedly kidnapped children from local Whittier orphanages to use during rituals. One story that has lived on is that of a local man wandering off and finding a group of these cultists chanting around a boy hung on an upside down cross. Again, this is all hearsay, but still legend #2.
The 1930's were said to have brought about the legend of the insane asylum, a local hospital rumored to have burned down in the early 40's, though no evidence to prove so exists. The big story with this one involves a group of teenagers who snuck into the asylum, and while there was no power to the place and hadn't been since the fire, it is rumored that one of the boys who playfully donned a shocking helmet was actually electrocuted to death as his friends watched. Hello, legend #3.
There are a few events that actually do have historical backing, however, so we will call them 'incidents'. The first actual major incident to happen in Turnbull Canyon occurred in 1952 when Flight 416 from New York City crashed and killed all 29 passengers on board, many of whom were believed to be children.
The next incident took place in 2009 when a woman knocked on a locals door in her undergarments with her shirt tied tightly over her throat. Apparently, this woman, who thought she was with 'friends', had her throat slit and was thrown down the canyon, only to climb her way out and seek help. She survived the ordeal, though the woman in the final incident did not. In 2011 this 41-year-old woman was found murdered in the canyon. Police officials arrested her then-boyfriend 7 years later for the murder.
While there is no annual Halloween event in Turnbull Canyon, there is a very family friendly, non-legend based festival yearly in nearby Whittier. The Whittier Uptown Association's Annual Halloween Capers is on Saturday, October 27th from 3 pm to 6 pm. Of course, you will find PLENTY more haunted Halloween adventures in very closeby Anaheim or Los Angeles.
So make a weekend of it, go visit some spooky California festivals, and make sure you save plenty of time to take a hike in Turnbull Canyon!