Terror Trails celebrates 20 years of haunts

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Screams of fright and haunting scares have been a part of Terror Trails in Yantis every October weekend for 20 years now.

Since 1998, the Terror Trails boo crew has provided East Texas residents and visitors a full package of frightening trail walks and more as they continue to expand.

Founders Gary Hughes, Snookie Tinnerman and Lance Nichols started the dark attraction after seeing some of the other haunted houses in the area. With Hughes’ background in lighting, the trio thought they could provide a better experience.

“I think people come out here and they’re impressed. We have a great yard at night when it’s all lit up. First time people when they drive by they don’t know what to expect from a haunt in Yantis, Texas, which they’ve probably never really heard of,” Hughes said. “They see what we have going on here and the lighting and everything and say ‘yeah, we’re stopping.’ I think we have good curb appeal.”

Terror Trails has grown through the years with new additions or improvements each year. The trail started out as a mountain bike trail but was then converted to Terror Trails.

A haunted house was added in the sixth year of the business. The ticket booth and concessions stand were upgraded as technology improved over the years.

“I like the entertainment part of it and I really enjoy the building of props and stuff like that,” he said. “From our very humble beginnings, we used to have just a little ticket booth that didn’t even have a ceiling in it. It’s been a growing process. Everything has gotten better.”

Hughes said they’ll screen old horror movies for guests to watch and the local Lions Club runs a glow booth with glow-in-the-dark items for the trail.

Terror Trails provides a full package of haunting and frightening entertainment compared to other attractions, Hughes said.

“We’re really high tech. The trail is over a half-mile long. Most of these haunted houses they don’t have the land that I do,” he said. “So they can’t build a longer trail. Six-tenths of a mile is a good walk. We try to do a complete package where you can come out here; we have concessions and our movies.”

He added that they try to keep changing each year to have something new for the guests.

“You have to keep things moving so people will want to come back,” Hughes said. “This year, the haunted house got a lot of changes and few changes on the trail side.”

He said the trails and house include the typical Halloween stuff of Freddy Krueger, Jason, Michael Myers, clowns and other monsters.

Hughes also meets with those doing the scaring to make sure they adhere to rules, such as no touching the guests.

Every year, the attendance at the trails continues to build through word of mouth and now through social media.

As for the next 20 years, Terror Trails will continue to bring the frights for a long time.

“I have no intentions on stopping,” Hughes said. “I really enjoy building this stuff and whenever we’re open it’s always exciting to see people having fun.”

The trails and haunted house are open every Friday and Saturday night from dark to midnight in October. On Halloween (Oct. 31), which is a Wednesday, the attractions will close at 11 p.m.

Cost is $10 for the trail or house and $19 for both attractions. Admission is $8 for kids 13 and under -- $15 for two. Military, firefighters and police officers receive a discount.

Hughes recommends only 8 year olds and up going in the trail or house alone. An adult with the child is not a problem.

However, Hughes noted, “Seven and eight year olds can come out fine and some adults come out crying.”

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