Evil Lumberjacks Lurk in Markoff's Haunted Forest

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Witches, zombies and evil lumberjacks roam the dark, ornament-lit grounds of Markoff's Haunted Forest, with the fright-lovers not too far behind.

"Some nights we see from 5 to 6,000 people come through," co-owner Matt Markoff said of what's billed as the oldest and most original haunted attraction in Maryland.

Awaiting your fate on one of two carefully constructed haunted trails, you can try your luck at any of the ghastly activities on the main grounds. Take a ride on the zip-line, climb the pole and jump the "Leap of Death," test your aim throwing axes like a lumberjack, or feel the rickety bumps on a haunted hay ride through the shadowy farm.

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The three Markoff brothers began the 18-year-old attraction as a haunted bus, traveling from high school football games to senior homes across Maryland. It has since grown into a nationally ranked attraction on the Calleva Farm in Dickerson, Md., where they grow their own food and wood and even make some of their own gas. The proceeds support an outdoor camp for children on the farm.

The forest is family friendly and sees a number of repeat visitors. Carl Hall, a local Maryland resident, attends each year, bringing his wife and son to explore the terror.

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"We had no idea what to expect," Hall said. "The trail is different each year. This year they said Trail Two was going to be very different, and it definitely was."

The trails are created at the hands of the Markoff brothers, who spice up both paths with something new each year. Trails combine the theme of the year (evil lumberjacks this year) with frightening scenes such as a wicked carnival, a witch's lair and a chainsaw massacre, all while fire shoots in the air from the course's grand finale.

Markoff's Haunted Forest

The brothers' attention to detail can be seen in the elaborate displays; airplanes crashed into school buses and underground castle passageways.

It's a fright-night experience that's sure to spook even the most strapping fright-lover.

Ticket prices range from $20 to $25. Go to the forest website for additional information.