24 Urban Explorers Reveal Their Scariest Stories From The Underground

These urban explorers from Ask Reddit have stories that will make you wonder what kind of creepy stuff is hidden in your own hometown.

1. We found an old, abandoned bomb shelter

“Was playing in the woods and tripped over something solid. Fund it was a cement circle, and realized it was an underground door. The next day I come back with a crowbar (to open, and like hell I’m going in unarmed). Pull it up, and it’s a cold war era personal bomb shelter… that failed? There was a giant crack in the roof, the floor was covered in slime. But what was worse is the walls are covered in writings. ‘This is the end.’ ‘We must die.’ ‘Everyone is gone.’

Then I find the back wall, and a giant red scrawl: “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOME.”

That’s it, fuck this. I’m fucking out. I sprint up the door, and close it. I don’t want to know what the hell that was. But I come back the next day… it’s burned out. I didn’t set a fire intentionally, and I didn’t smell smoke leaving.” — Secretly_psycho

2. A stranger appeared out of nowhere

“There’s an abandoned and boarded up WWII fort in the southern part of Belgium, that we often sneak into with the scouts. Getting in there requires scaling a sheer wall (where we’ve placed anchoring points for ropes and climbing gear) next to a relatively busy road. So you’re being super quiet, making no light and cowering every time a car passes by so he doesn’t spot you in his lights. The atmosphere is set.

The moment you enter it, it’s like diving into water. Sound stops and the entire place is at a constant 14 degrees Celsius, with a slight breeze passing through. The tunnel is barely large enough for me (slightly broader than the average person) to pass without turning my body sideways. The tunnel is just high enough to work up a decent gait while hunched over. If someone ahead of you blocks a passage for a moment, the breeze stops and it feels like the entire tunnel network takes a breath. Because of the way the tunnels are constructed, they echo in such a way that your own footsteps seem to be coming from behind you. They also seem to take one more step than you do when you stop.

Of course we don’t allow the guys and gals to take any source of light in there, so it’s pretty scary overall.

So I’m in there, posted at a side passage to ensure everyone takes the same path and doesn’t get lost. I go in first, before any of the climbers arrive, so they don’t know there are friendly faces in there to help them. I’m in there for a while, just waiting for the first to come by, when I see a dancing little light coming down the long hallway. I quietly settle back in my nook and wait for whoever was smart enough to hide some matches and take them away.

The light quietly bobs closer when I realize there aren’t any footsteps accompanying it. I poke my head around the corner just in time to see it disappear. I hear no footsteps still.

I settle back and wait some more, when I realize I do hear some scuffling. Very faint. Breathing noises, but still very faint. I become aware of a wet heat coming from right in front of me, with a faint smell of… person, sweat, dirt? Suddenly I realize, there’s someone there. Right in front of me. Inches from my face.

The breathing stops suddenly, whatever it is is aware of me as well. Whatever or whoever it is, we’re both holding our breath, both acutely aware of each other. It takes ages. I’m sitting there, unable to move, speak or breathe properly.

The wet heat passes and some minutes later I become aware of very faint light coming from my right side, which soon dissipates and leaves.

Some time later still, I hear the familiar stomping of combat boots coming down the hallway from my left. I stop the person, tell them to keep following the passageway and take the first right they come to. Out of curiosity, I ask who went in first. No one, he went in first…” — SoreWristed

3. There were scratch marks inside of the closet

“I was in a house that the police confiscated from a biker gang. My job was to assess the damage for an insurance company. The walls were all painted white and the floor was sheets of plywood painted dark red. I was going around measuring each room, opening doors, no problem. I then open the linen closet and it had deep scratch marks on the inside and dents on the back of the door like someone was trying to escape, the freaky part was straight ahead at my head level was a round red splatter pattern on the back wall that had been painted over with a coat of white paint. Freaked me the fuck out, like someone was trapped in there and then someone opened the door and shot them in the head.” — YaSeeTheThingIs

4. A ghost grabbed my hand

“I was walking through the woods with some of my friends at about midnight, having fun and messing around. It was pretty much pitch black in some areas, usually taking about a minute to get to the next light section, and at some point I felt somebody hold my hand, it was very clearly a small, and definitely female hand.

After about a minute we finally got close to the light again and I asked if she was alright, only to look over and notice that everybody else was about two meters behind me, and the only female was at the very back of the group. Almost immediately I felt the pressure leave my hand. I never brought it up with them, because they’d probably just tell me I was imagining things.” — gameaddict877

5. We found blood stains across the ground

“At a hotel in my hometown that everyone breaks into, (its the most famous building in our town and our downtown is super run down). Anyway, me and my two friends crawl through the basement from a side entrance and initially, all we see is spray paint graffiti, but as we make our way up some really steep steps, we see a bunch of dead cats that have been dragged around and left blood stains on the ground. We pretty much booked it the fuck out of there after that. We’re probably going back in a couple of weeks, and that shit better still be there.” — JetStreamWolf12

6. Blood was all over the walls

“An abandoned mental hospital that I went to first time the freezer which at one point they put there dead when they first opened up like in the 1800s was full of mold. Next time I went it was spotless. Then in one hallway blood (that I tested) was written really big and had hi written in spray paint small under it. Next time I went the blood was gone but the hi was still there and looked same as before.” — slothcopta

7. I found a vault beneath a graveyard

“I found a gigantic cement vault under the Arlington national cemetery. It was super spooky and not on any map.” — Pipewrecker

8. We stumbled across a dead creature

“My buddy and me spent many years crawling through sewer pipes. One day we were out in the woods. Me him and another friend. We were deep in the woods. We found some pipe sticking out of a hillside and agreed to explore it.

Well we crawl down this thing a good 600 feet or so, on our hands and knees. At times it gets smaller and we are on our stomachs. Finally it comes to one of those big manhole rooms, and we get the impression were under a house.

Of course we also know that in some places manholes will exist in the middle of nowhere for future developments. Anyways the room has 3 other super small pipes heading off into different directions. Like slither on your stomach size. We choose one and make our friend Z go first.

We go down about 300 feet and he shouts back that theres something in the way. He thinks its a dead animal. But since we are using weak headlamps he cant tell. We coerce him to climb over it. Then comes me. He’s freaking out saying shit is all over his clothes and he didn’t know what it was. I climb over this dark lump of refuse. Feels like a body but not human. Not even animal. Just alien. Smells bad. Smells horrible. I slide over this nasty shit almost puking. My buddy behind me comes next. Same story.

We keep going. Asking ourselves why we even do this shit in the first place. Exploration. Etc. Into the unknown. The forbidden.

We crawl another few hundreds feet. Z starts complaining about a horrible god awful stench ahead. We cant for the life of him get him to continue. He ends up throwing up. We start throwing the idea around of gas of some sort. He says with his headlamp theres something big up ahead. Looks like a honest to god body. Human maybe. We slide backwards quickly until we get to the manhole room. We crawl out quickly.

We get into the daylight and investigate the shit stuck to our clothes from the thing we slid over. Its dark. Bloody dark. Refuse dark. Looks like fur. We agree that it was probably a trapped animal.

Never go back ever again.” — XRebirth_Pilot

9. A ghost appeared out of nowhere

“I once was alone at Moorgate station in London after staying for a few after work drinks with my buddy who also works in central.

It was around 10pm so I left the pub and walked to the station and found I had missed the previous train by about 5 minutes.

Moorgate station is an underground station but the overground trains depart and terminate there. The train that I needed to catch always departs from one of two platforms that are in their individual tunnels adjacent to one another but accessible by foot as they are connected by paths that connect the platforms every 15 feet or so.

I was sat on the bench right at the end (near where the front of the train would be when departing). As I sat there I saw some movement in the corner of my eye so I turned and stared to see just a regular guy dressed in dark clothing come through from the other platform passage about 10 meters from me and thought nothing of it. He went by the track, starred down, backed away and ran back through the passage to the other platform.

I thought to myself that was weird and quickly got up to follow him and find out why he was running/if he was ok.

I was no more than 5 seconds behind him and the exit/entry to the platform is right by the other end which was a good 150 meters or so away.

As I go through the passage to the other platform I look to see no one there. I then went back to the other platform and again I was the only one there apart from a women who just reached the bottom of the escalator to the platform entrance right down the other end.

It was something I couldn’t explain and I was sure I couldn’t recall any footsteps that made is even weirder. London is an old place and has a lot of history so not sure if there was an event that could give reasoning to what I experienced but it’s a memory that will always stick with me.” — tttttttypo

10. I found a group of strangers living in complete darkness

“This was in the San Bernardino area, in southern California. I was inspecting the bridges that run over canals for lead and asbestos. Most bridges that run over canals have a small space on either side of the water to walk, usually small enough that you have to bend over.

One bridge appeared to have a small crawl space under it, but once I got inside it opened up into a huge, dark, low-ceiling room that extended back below the highway. I entered alone ahead of my supervisor and carrying my tools and flashlight. As I passed the flashlight over the darkness about twenty people stared back at me from the back of that room, all standing.

I must have ducked out of there immediately but I clearly remember seeing a nice rug, multiple large couches, a TV, a table with a vase with flowers in it, beds, paintings on the walls, a nice floor lamp, but none of it was powered…. and just twenty people, living there in the dark…” — cavt949

11. I came across five carcasses — and then quit my job

“Although its technically not urban exploring, as a former electrician I think I can still share one moment from a job I had to do about 13 years ago.

Me and my job partner were called out to a larger restoration job that was being done to an older house from the early 1900’s. The house was until this point, a family owned house wich had 2 owners since it was built, and the last owner was an old lady who had passed away there whilst being the last person in her family line (sad story on its own) and nobody could take over the house.

So the house got auctioned to a younger couple that bought it for an insane amount of money due to how large the house was, but it was now time to get the old house up to modern standards, wich included a completely new installation from scratch, as the old cables around the house were the type of cables that was insulated with black cotton and fastened with hand crafted wooden clamps.

While working in the 1st floor was quite easy as the entire installation process was made to fit inside the new wallframes that the carpenters were setting up, we eventually had to move on to the 2nd floor and prepare for setting up a new intake from the attic wich would then pass down to the new main fuse box on the 2nd floor.

We opened the hatch to the attic, and while using the flashlight to look up there, we could surely see that the attic was very cramped, so the smallest of us would have to go up there to fix everything to get the intake cable settled while removing the old one.

As you might guess, I was the smallest of us and had to do that shitty job of going up where nobody probably had been for many many years. So I decided to grab a lunchbreak and mentally prepare myself for what I expected to become a pretty shit job. After eating, I grabbed my flashlight and toolbelt and started climbing up the stairs, and while climbing upwards I noticed that the smell (that we thought was pretty much “old people smell” after they die) was getting increasingly stronger.

But I had to continue, so I got to the top and crawled myself onto something stable when I got up, while noticing that the smell up there was pretty damn bad. So I grabbed my flashlight to look around and get somewhat oriented about where to crawl. Looking forward it seemed like a pretty straight forward route towards the intake point that I could see in the distance, but out of curiosity I wondered if there were anything up there, so I looked to my right, only to light up 5 carcasses of what once was the old lady’s cats that probably had died, one of them were more or less ‘intact’ whilst being visibly partly eaten by various insects (or whatever eats such stuff), while 2 of them were more or less just rotten dried skin and bones.

At that moment I absolutely regretted my decision to eat lunch as the sight of this along with the realization about what I had smelled all along was these dead cats, and immediately threw up on the spot before VERY swiftly noping the fuck out of there.

After some talk back and forth, we came to the possibility that the old lady had been throwing her cats up there when they died, one by one, but we will never know for sure since the lady had died.

The new owners had no idea about this when buying the house, but our company ended up denying to continue the work until the attic had been cleaned appropriately. This apparently took them about 1 month to complete, I guess there are not many companies who wants to deal with that kind of nasty stuff, but my partner at work ended up finishing the work on the attic afterwards as he felt kinda bad for me.

In the end, I decided to not continue being an electrician anymore, as this was not work I really enjoyed doing, especially not after this event.” — Tekowsen

12. There were decapitated animals everywhere

“Explored an abandoned factory? I think I’m not sure what it was. Extremely sketchy. In the middle of the floor there was a square cutout and just a dark room below it with no light source, around a 8-10 foot drop. Would have been fucked if someone fell down. Also many children toys and random musty books. Tons of bat and pigeon shit and it went up about 4-5 stories. Stairs were very sketchy. Worst part about it was the decapitated animals there but oh well.” — shifting27

13. It always felt like someone was standing behind me

“Many years ago I worked as a technical assistant at a coal mining company. this was basically doing the grunt work for those with degrees, taking samples of things, doing data entry, driving the surveyors around etc etc.

One of my duties was to go into the underground mines and take coal, dirt, and air samples on a regular basis. Often this’d be a little away from other workers.

One place i’d hate going because every time it’d feel and sound like there was someone standing just behind me to my left and whispering in my ear, even when the nearest other person was 30 yards away or so.” — renegade_donut

14. The stairs disappeared into water

“There used to be an old abandoned school in a town by my house. It was heavily boarded up, and super hard to get into. Well, a friend and I managed to get inside, by climbing up the side of the school via a pipe/fire escape combo and slipping through a window on the roof. We explored the basement, which was flooded. It was kinda creepy seeing stairs disappear into water. We had just left the gym, when we heard footsteps coming from the doors on the other side of the gym. Scary, especially considering it sounded like it was one person (not another group of explorers like us) and blocking our exit back up to the roof (the only way out otherwise was behind us, through boarded up doors). They sounded like someone who was walking around, and stopping periodically. There was no light coming from that direction, and we couldn’t fathom why someone would come into a creepy place like this alone. We waited for the footsteps to stop, then snuck across the gym, peered down the hallways, saw no one, and continued towards the stairs which would lead us back to the roof. Halfway down the hall, we hear someone SPRINTING behind us. Probably 50 meters away or so, down a typical high school hallway. Now, it is mostly dark in here, but there was a small amount of light coming in through cracks in the window boards. Still, we didn’t see anything behind us as we quickly ran up the stairs. We didn’t stop until we got back to the fourth floor. We listened for noise; nothing. Hopped out the window and climbed back down the pipe.” — shreditorOG

15. I walked right past a corpse

“As a teen I was into urban exploration. There was an old ice plant near my house that had burned (I know- ironic) around 25-30 years prior. Anyway, it wasn’t really underground, but was so overgrown that it felt more-or-less like it. I go climbing around over and under mangled concrete and rebar and graffiti for a while and finally decide I’m done. Couple of days later I hear about how the police pulled a corpse out of there. Pretty sure I walked right by it and didn’t even notice…” — digitalis303

16. We found hidden messages inside of the sewer

“There’s a sewer system under my old neighborhood and I would go in there to smoke weed with my buddies. We started to notice ‘messages’ left on the walls in red paint, like ‘We are watching you’ and ‘smoke the reefer meet the reaper.’ One day while we were down there we heard a couple of voices laughing and were getting closer and closer. We panicked and lifted a manhole right above that opened up to a busy road street. We never went back down again.” — Buzzkill1591

17. She felt a spirit inside of the mental hospital

“After the Community Care Act in Scotland in the early 90s, a lot of the big sprawling long stay mental hospitals were closed down and all the patients moved into smaller houses and homes etc spread out through the community. A lot of these old sites are still standing though!. In Dundee we have Strathmartine Hospital, the core of which was constructed in the 1800 and expanded. Back in the day it was kind of place you’d be sent if you were an unwed mother or a ‘bad’ child. The place was bought over to develop into flats, but the owner went bankrupt in the recession, so the whole site is standing there unprotected by security, albeit surrounded by fences and kinda difficult to get to. Me and a few friends have broken in a few time and it’s HELLA creepy. Wards with beds and furniture perfectly preserved, old mass communal bathrooms, open loft shafts, meds rooms with health posters and medication still there, children’s ward with child’s pictures still on the wall decades later, mental health wards with seclusion areas, old crematorium, gym and swimming pool.. People don’t realize these hospitals were entirely self contained communities!. If there’s interest, I can upload some pics..

A couple of stories though.. On the children’s ward, my friend who was filming, who’s a bit of a spiritulist, said she felt a ‘presence’ and got really anxious. I laughed it off, but when you play the video back, when she expresses that she feels something, the clip is all freakily distorted.. Other story is when we were in an L shaped building, I SWEAR ON MY LIFE I heard whistling and footsteps coming round the corner. We quickly scrambled and hid, thinking security had found us, but no-one was there.” — Worgen_Druid

18. We found an abandoned quarry someone lived in

“Me and a few friends explored this abandoned quarry once. There was one main tunnel going back into a mountain with tons of straight offshoot tunnels and clearings intersecting it. We came to one of the cleared out areas far back into the mine (the entrance to the tunnel was out of sight with no light other than our spotlights).

Laying on some rocks at the bottom of the flooded, partially caved in clearing was one of those old T.Vs that sit like a cabinet on the floor. At first we thought it was some kind of chest or crate but when we put a spotlight on it and realized it was an old T.V. It was definitely unsettling. The whole quarry had a creepy vibe to it but the T.V. was just really out of place. I guess some of the miners had it running off a generator or something back in the day. Creepy nonetheless.” — HaxtonSale

19. We were all arrested for exploring the underground

“Went exploring with a bunch of friends at the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. While this is not underground in its entirety, portions of it are. The buildings were left with hospital equipment, beds, books, patient files… literally everything. It’s eerie as if a zombie apocalypse occurred and everyone left. It operated from 1864 to 1994. The facility was self sustaining, (i.e. The “patients” farmed the land, and had all resources on campus. The years this was open a lot of horror stories came out of this place, this wasn’t the modern day psychiatric ward. More like a prison, where families paid a lot of money to hide their mentally ill, or the state put undesirables. There’s an underground network, that was heavily blocked off with chains. However, the main buildings were easily accessible. But, the access ways to the underground were blocked off inside as well. Every time we got near one of the underground tunnel systems we could hear faint music playing, sounded like a music box playing. We found a bent wired gate and attempted to file in, the music got louder and we were all pretty freaked out. We were all promptly arrested before attempting to go into the tunnels. There’s a lot of speculation about the tunnels still to this day. The new owner said he was afraid of asbestos, and was fearing for our safety. He was very grim,he agreed to drop charges if we never went back. We obliged happily. Still, I sometimes think of my interactions there, all of the remnants left behind and get severely creeped out.” — jake502120

20. A truck followed us around for a half hour

“There’s an old half torn down school on the airbase outside of my home town. The supposedly haunted old grain silos about a quarter mile away get more attention, but the school is what me and my friends were obsessed with. We had gone in during the day and poked around, finding the typical bullshit graffiti teenagers make in places like that, like ‘fuck god’ with the anarchy symbol and ‘all hail the zodiac killer’, stupid shit like that. We wanted to go in at night but didn’t want to break our necks doing it, which ended up being a smart choice, since there were holes in the floor that went all the way down to the basement, which seemed to have about just above ankle deep standing water at the time.

We didn’t get really freaked out until later, when we went back at night, and as we’re psyching ourselves up to go in, some kind of early nineties blue Ford and a gun rack pulls into the empty parking lot. It’s lights cut right through the car and made it hard to see much, but it spooked the hell out of us. We got the hell out of there, but the truck followed us around the airbase for the better part of half an hour, turning on it’s high beams and tailgating us, and then turning their lights off completely and acting like they were tailing us…in spite of it only being the two cars on the road at that hour, plus the airbase being, y’know, abandoned. We’re just glad we were still in the car and not inside when they got there.” — pumpkinguydancing

21. We had a rotten glimpse into their lives

“I grew up in Frederick, Maryland. Back in the mid 90s to early 2000s when I was a teenager, the city still had a very rust belt vibe. Before its fairly recent “revival” into a hipster-infested douche mecca, it had a fairly large blue collar presence – particularly along the city’s open air drainage canal, which back when I was growing up was flanked on both sides by tons of abandoned and/or condemned buildings, both residential and industrial. Now it’s all sushi fusion joints, hilariously overpriced condos and vintage thrift shops like every other city on the east coast.

Anyway, back then we would roam around the city and break into abandoned buildings for fun. Sometimes we’d vandalize the place, but usually we were just exploring and using them as a hangout spot where we could drink and smoke weed without having to worry about cops. There were a bunch of creepy moments, particularly when you’d break into a condemned house only to discover that one or more homeless people had set up in there – my city kind of had a reputation for having a LOT of severely mentally ill homeless people back then, paranoid schizophrenics and such, a bunch of whom I knew by name back then.

One memory that stands out, though, was an abandoned house we broke into which had clearly been vacant for many many years, with visible black mold growing on the walls. It was weird because it had clearly been occupied by a family previously because all of their stuff was still there, like the Rapture happened and they just disappeared. Beds, dressers with clothes, family photos on the walls, all of that (we didn’t dare open the fridge). It really seemed like for some reason the family drove away one day and just never returned, it was super creepy walking through their home with flashlights and just getting this rotted glimpse into their lives before whatever happened.” — Vokudlak

22. The space filled up with noxious gas

“I’ve popped hundreds of manhole covers in Boston working for dig safe. The only thing I can think of is surprise bee nests. Of when the noxious gas meter starts beeping which means ‘Stay fuck out of this hole or you’ll pass out and die.'” — My6thRedditusername

23. My grandfather got lost in a cave

“My grandpa got lost in Mammoth Cave after he got back from WWII. Apparently before he was drafted it was not a National Park and the rules around exploring it were very loose, the property it was on was privately owned and locals were known to trespass to explore the cave. (or that’s what my grandpa used to tell me, he and his friends vary well may of been the only people trespassing..) While my Grandpa was serving in the Pacific Theater the cave became a National Park. After arriving home my grandpa and his friends that survived the war went back to explore for old time sakes. They were wandering around with flashlights when they heard a tour group, considering they weren’t in their ‘legally’ and had bypassed many Federal trespassing signs, they cut the lights and slowly but surely tried to walk unnoticed back to the entrance. Unfortunately they went deeper and spent 17 hours in there before getting out. He didn’t have many stories because apparently you inch along in complete darkness without being able to see your hand in front of your face. But he said one of his friends kept saying: ‘We didn’t survive that shit to die in here.'” — beechknoll

24. Homeless people lived underground

“I work for the MTA in NYC. The underground train system is the perfect place for homeless people to escape the elements. I walked into a fully naked man bathing under a leaking hot water pipe. That was pretty terrifying.” — TSCHWEITZ TC mark

About the author
Holly is the author of Severe(d): A Creepy Poetry Collection. Follow Holly on Instagram or read more articles from Holly on Thought Catalog.

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