Tag Archives: Gravity Hill

Gravity hill

It was a… it was an urban legend of Gravity Hill somewhere in Pasadena, you would driving to a certain location, I forgot what street it was and you would get off, you would put baby powder on all the windows of the car and you would put the car in reverse and supposedly little kids were pushing you up the hill and then you could see the handprint.

My informant was an active practitioner of this legend. He had heard it from some of his high school friends, however their attempt did not work. He told me this urban legend while we were casually talking about other urban legends. His story reminded me of the same story I had heard about a certain hill in Hacienda Heights, California. The other people that were around us at the time also chimed in, saying that they had seen the same thing in a movie. I have heard several versions of this legend. I heard one version where the heater/air conditioner is supposed to fog up the windows instead of baby powder. I also heard that there is supposed to be a dent on the roof of the car, signaling dangling feet from a hung dead body above.

“For another version of this urban legend, see the movie Fingerprints (2006) based off an urban legend from San Antonio, Texas.

Gravity Hill

In Altadena, California, there’s a hill called Gravity Hill. When you go on its downward-facing slope in a car in neutral, the car starts going uphill.

Gravity Hill is situated next by a reservoir; there are trees everywhere, but it’s a pretty open space otherwise.

The informant first heard about when she was 12 — she’d heard that it was super creepy and that there were ghosts and spirits pushing you up the hill, and that the “magic” worked better at night.

When she first went on it, she thought that the entire scene was an illusion of angles. Later on, she would walk around in that area all the time, climb the fences that surrounded the area and hang out there with friends. Hanging out in Gravity Hill was very much “a thing” to do when you were a kid or a teenager in Altadena.

Altadena in general is, in the words of the informant, an Altadena native, “hippie dippy.” She describes the locals as “sort of weird,” so something like Gravity Hill seemed right at home there.

The informant, one of my housemates, shared the story with me in conversation.

The existence of these sort of geographical anomalies, where the perceived tilt of the earth doesn’t match how things actually move, is not that rare — I recently traveled to a similar place in NorCal named Confusion Hill. In both cases, the existence of spirits was taken as granted, not necessarily because people strongly believed in them, but because it was just seen as another weird thing to add onto the already weird location.

That said, the fact that the residents in the area are known for being a little off kilter as well makes the existence of and continued legendary presence of Gravity Hill more understandable.

Gravity Hill

Informant describes an optical illusion creating the appearance of a hill on which the rules of gravity don’t appear to apply in the conventional sense. Cars left in neutral roll up instead of down, water trickles up, etc. The kids in the neighborhood would say that a group of children getting killed or something of that nature is what gave the hill its unnatural properties, though the informant doesn’t buy into those explanations, instead calling it an illusion but not elaborating on how exactly it’s caused.

Informant speaks of multiple “gravity hills” in various locations around the world, likely wherever the conditions for the illusion arise. I’ve heard of these as well (possibly on an episode of Mythbusters or the like) and don’t find it strange at all that such an illusion would cause quite a stir in those prone to belief in supernatural phenomena.

Moorpark’s Gravity Hill

The story teller was a USC student from the city of Moorpark, about an hour north of LA. She grew up in Moorpark, and is from a Japanese American background. This ghost story was collected late at night, walking on a dimly lit street through campus.


Me: First of all, where did you hear this ghost story?

K: Uhm I mean, someone told me, it was just a casual thing, someone told me at someone’s house, it wasn’t a dark scary night or anything. But everyone hears this story at one point or another living there.  So, there is this place in Moorpark, called Gravity hill and its back in…people don’t live back there. Its like farm land, getting into the orange trees and everything, I don’t know anyone who lives back there. I’ve only been back there for this place. So basically, there is this place where supposedly there used to be train tracks and a bus full of kids stalled in front of these train tracks, a long time ago, no one ever told me when. And they couldn’t get the bus off the train tracks, and it was full of kids, and a train started coming and hit the bus and everyone in the bus died. All the kids died. So they say this place is haunted by these little kids, and that if you put your car….if you go to this place and you go to this certain spot and put your car in neutral, and let it sit there, the kids will come, and think you’re stuck there, and they will push your car up hill to try and save you, you go up gravity hill. So we tried it this one time, homecoming night, freshman year, went there before the dance. So we went to this place, and it was my friend’s older sister who was driving the car, and so she had to find the right spot. So she put her car in neutral, and we’re sitting there, and then all of the sudden the car started moving forward. And, I mean, its not that big of a slope, its like a little tiny bit of a slope, and your car starts rolling up hill. Its like, the creepiest thing ever. I heard that some people like to put flour on the back of their car and they check it when they get up the hill, and check for handprints later. Which, I mean, there are rumors about people finding handprints in the flour but I don’t really believe them, but people say that they do.


Me: At the time did you believe any of it?

 K: Uhhhh, I don’t know. I don’t really believe in ghosts. I honestly don’t, I mean, I would have to actually look up the history to see if there were actually train tracks there to believe it. If I found out that there were actually train tracks and this did actually happen, I might believe it a little.

Me: Do you think there is any other explanation other than some sort of other worldly spirit?

K: (Laughs) Uhh, I mean, maybe putting your car in neutral doesn’t really put your car all the way in neutral and maybe you have a little gas putting you up the hill? I don’t know, the hill is really small.  So it’s not like….maybe people don’t realize at the very end of where you put your car at there is a little down slope first, you know? I don’t know. You do roll a significant amount forward though, I don’t know. It ‘s kind of creepy. I got goose bumps there, and I was freaked out. I locked my doors.


After I heard this story, I was quite speculative myself. Being an engineering that trusts in the good laws of science, I knew this was physically impossible, and that a car could not roll uphill. I did some research using the keyword “gravity hill”. I found an interesting article covering an in depth investigation of how this happens, at it is reported as a common phenomena at various places around the world. The conclusion that they came to was that the car does not actually roll uphill, but rather downhill, and the upward slope that people see is actually an optical illusion caused by the surrounding landscape and curvature of the road. What I find fascinating about this ghost story is that it has an interesting legend, complete with spirits of children, and people are able to go and see it for themselves. Due to the variety of places that have reported this occurring, there is great potential for a variety of different ghost stories to explain why this occurs. These ghost stories could vary by location or culture, and have unique stories, different than the children pushing the car.




Richards, David. “IIG | Gravity Hill Investigation.” IIG | The Independent Investigations Group. Independent Investigations Group, 07 Jan. 2006. Web. 05 Nov. 2011. <http://www.iigwest.com/investigations/2006/20060107_gravityhill.html>.