As Published in The Burlington County Times by Melissa Hanejko on October 18, 2017 |

WESTAMPTON — In the light of day, the Rancocas Nature Center offers a quiet, tranquil environment for hikers, bikers and school students. Surrounded by 210 acres of the Rancocas State Forest, the center is a scenic retreat, with meadows, forests and ponds.

But what goes on after sundown? Is the park’s quiet facade hiding something unexpected?

About this time every year, reports of hauntings and unwelcome ghostly visitors reach an all-time high. Rancocas State Park, though, doesn’t have much of a reputation for otherworldly occurrences, unlike other spots in Burlington County. Or maybe the park is better at keeping secrets.

To find out, take the road less traveled on Friday night for “The Haunted Hike to End Hunger.”

Sponsored by L.L. Bean, of Evesham, the after-dark outing will include ghost stories and tales of local lore and legend. Then it’s into the woods for the guided hike. Be on the lookout for unexpected guests. Rumor has it the Jersey Devil has been spotted in these woods. After a safe return to the center, enjoy complementary doughnuts and apple cider.

Friday’s event also has a more down-to-earth purpose: to help end hunger. In lieu of an entry fee, visitors are asked to bring one or more nonperishable food items for the Food Bank of South Jersey in Pennsauken.

The food bank serves families in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties. Annually, its distribution program links nearly 10 million pounds of food with 250 pantries, community kitchens, shelters and other charitable organizations.

The haunted hike is from 7 to 9 p.m. The center is at 794 Rancocas Road. To reserve a spot, contact L.L. Bean at 856-810-5560 or llbean.com/llb/shop/1000001722.

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