25 Campers On The Living Nightmares They Came Across While Deep Inside The Woods

These stories from Ask Reddit will convince you to stay inside. It’s far too dangerous out in the wild.
A camper
Unsplash / Ihor Malytskyi

1. There’s a terrifying, haunted house in South Lake Tahoe

“There’s a house in the woods on a hill in South Lake Tahoe. I’ve hiked there a few times to witness the weird.

Basically, you stand on a hill across from the house and the porch light appears. When you walk to the house(half mile) you lose site of it in the tree line before walking up on it.

When you walk to the house, there’s no light on. No lights work at all actually as the house is completely abandoned.

What’s creepy is I’ve seen this many times with many people and it’s always the same. We’ve even planted people at the hill and the house to see what’s happening- those on the hill see the porch light while those at the house do not.

These houses always have a story, don’t they? Story goes a girl would sneak her boyfriend into the house after parents were asleep and let him know they were asleep by turning on porch light. Girl died in fire.” — mkink

2. I discovered a dead man dangling from a tree

“I found a dead guy hanging from a tree out in the woods of a Korean national park. Really scared the shit out of me and the two guys with me. We were looking for a point and walking up a very steep hill when we rounded a bush and pretty much stumbled into this guy who hung himself from a tree. I sent them back down the hill and called up the duty desk for the nearby post. Standing up on the hill looking out at the last thing the guy must have seen just left me feeling incredibly lonely.” — Sparks_MD

3. Someone crushed the roof of our tent with their hands

“Went camping with my boyfriend when I was 19. We weren’t in a designated camping site, just out in the wilderness of Northern Scotland. Apart from the midges we hadn’t seen another organism for nearly a day. We had a fun evening drinking and watching the stars, fucking under nature’s canopy etc.

He fell asleep before me cause he’s a lightweight. I was just chilling in the tent using a torch to read my book when all of a sudden the roof just starts bowing inwards. It came down 2/3 feet to the point where I had to lie down so it didn’t touch me. I was still pretty wasted, but I’m sure I saw 10 points pressing in right above my face, like someone was pushing it down with their hands. I was full of rum at the time, and I’m a certified scouser, so I went outside with my torch and a knife in full on ‘lets-be-having-you’ mode, but there was no-one to be seen. I was scared shitless for the rest of the night.” — J4viator

4. We spotted UFOs dashing across the sky

“20ish years ago, myself and my fellow boy scout troop saw some strange lights in the sky. We were in Texas, pretty far out in the middle of nowhere, away from city lights. I don’t recall the name of the area.

On the night in question, we were sleeping outside in sleeping bags, on cots, and we arranged our cots out so that we were laying in the same direction, head-to-toe. I don’t recall what actual direction we were facing, we were just lined up the same way. We broke up the sky into sections (e.g. ‘top left, top middle’ etc) and started watching for satellites.

After we’d been watching a while and had seen what we were sure to be at least a couple of satellites, we saw three lights — not much brighter than the satellites we’d recently seen — moving towards each other, none moving in the same direction that the satellites were moving. We were stunned… even more so when they stopped. They stopped about half of a finger width (holding your finger to the sky) apart from each other. Eventually they all shot off, each in the direction they came from, but MUCH faster than they were moving the first time.” — n0g0d

5. We came across a killer dog

“Yesterday I was hiking in New Hampshire, and as me and my group were descending we passed a family with a dog. We were in a groove, so we just continued past them as they were standing off to the side of the trail. But as we walked by, they appeared to be holding hands around the dog in a prayer circle. I heard the (assuming) father say, ‘Lord please, do not let this dog kill again.’

I have no idea what was up with this dog.” — SeashellBob

6. We saw a man brandishing a large butcher knife

“I was camping near Nederland, Colorado and a fellow walked out of the woods with a large knife and a beekeeper hood on. It was near dusk and he walked between our tents and our fire, where we were, through our campsite (which was dispersed camping, not in a campground) and back into the woods on the other side. I assume he was just trying to scare the shit out of people, and he succeeded brilliantly. I am glad I brought a change of underpants, and he is lucky that we weren’t the gun totin’ sort.” — slamdanceswithwolves

7. We were told stories about the ‘lizard people’

“When I was a kid, we used to camp down by this river. Not an official campground. On the way down to it, there was an old school bus and some creepy guy living in. He used to tell us stories of seeing lizard people coming out of the cliff sides in giant bubbles to visit him and of some wild river monster that would eat our toes. Creeped the hell out of me as a kid.” — qorsana

8. We were surrounded by a bank robber and a SWAT team

“It’s always the people that are creepy. One day I was hiking on a mountain near the town I lived in at the time when I ran into a man walking the other way, carrying a couple bags. I nodded and said hello, as one should do when they pass someone in the woods. He mumbled something and scurried on by.

I didn’t think much of it. Commented to my girlfriend at the time that he was an asshole. We had a nice hike, summitted the mountain, and began to head down. On the way down, two big vans pulled up. Men in full swat uniforms and AR-15s popped out. They ran uphill past me, rifles at the ready.

Turns out, the guy I passed had just robbed one of the town’s banks. They guys who passed me where the SWAT team going to pick him up.” — Levelsixxx

9. I came across a dead body

“Found a guy who had killed himself by sticking a pipe in his exhaust on a logging road.” — Artie-Fufkin 

10. My daughter and I heard a man fall to his death

“I was on a short day hike with my then 8 year old daughter. It was winter and we were trying to hike a favorite summertime trail. The problem was while this trail was safe enough in the summer, it had become a narrow and icy path with an almost 90 degree drop down a high cliff.

I decided we would take our time and finish the trail, but take an easier route back. 3/4 of the way along a black lab bolts past us and I had to grab saplings to keep from being knocked over the cliff edge. The dog’s owner comes along trying to apologize but I was too shook up to talk and rudely waved him off and we continued.

A minute later we hear the guy hollar. My daughter and I just laughed and kept walking. We finished our walk and went back to the car. I noticed the lab in the parking lot and cursed him as I drove away.

The next day on my local news I read about a guy who fell off the cliff and died the same location as our hike. The report also mentioned the black lab…

My daughter will never know she and I shared a laugh over a man falling to his death…” — MrFluke

11. She found photos of herself that a stranger took

“A friend of mine went backpacking out on the AT alone with her digital camera. Wakes up one morning to find photos of herself sleeping on the memory card…” — bibliophile232

12. We were stuck in complete silence

“Complete silence. No animal noises, no birds chirping and no leaves rustling. Nothing for hours until we pitched camp. Scat and tracks everywhere, but not any other trace of critters.” — SchrodingersHairball

13. The entire group of us had a bizarre feeling of being watched

“When I was about 12, a friend of mine threw a party. The basic idea was to goof around, play games, then watch the meteor shower (this was in August), and then we would all sleep out in the tent in his yard. He lives in a very rural area. Meteor shower was cool, and then we all went to the tent to go to sleep. I remember going in and out of sleep. There were weird noises all around, some sounding like voices, and we just had kind of a creepy feeling. Guys did look around outside of the tent and no one saw anything. At about 3 AM, we all woke up with a completely creeped out feeling. My friend turned on a light. It flashed and went out. We all instantly grabbed our sleeping bags and walked to his house and wound up sleeping in the basement. I don’t know what it was, but there was something around us that scared the hell out of all of us.” — fd1Jeff

14. There was a mysterious man carrying an axe around midnight

“This was at my little sister’s Girl Scout camping trip I was chaperoning. No boys allowed — just little girls, their moms (or in this case, older sisters.) So imagine our surprise when this guy just shows up at about 11 PM with an axe.

He wasn’t drunk, but he just seemed… off. And he had an axe. I would assume he was going to do some wilderness-y thing with it, but he had no other equipment. No other supplies. Not even a backpack. Just some dude at nearly midnight in a Girl Scout camp with an axe.

We yelled at him to leave. He stood around for about half an hour, we considered calling the police just because it was weird and shady to have this middle-aged axe man staring intently at an off-limits campsite of 11-year-olds. Then he vanished. It was strange. We told the owner of the campsite and he never found anything.” — alderaanirebel

15. We found an animal skull by an empty bonfire

“One time we found an empty bonfire with an animal skull laying on top of it, along with various liquor bottles. This freaked us out and the villagers thought we had satanist worshipers.” — ooo-ooo-oooyea

16. I heard a creepy snippet of conversation while deep in the woods

“Hiking up a mountain a family walks past, the mother says to the little girl with a look of worry on her face ‘what bunny with no eyes?'” — BadgerUltimatum

17. I had a paranormal experience on the prairie

“I work as a field biologist, and a few summers back I had what I would call my closest experience with the ‘paranormal.’ We would drive around on ATV’s all night with spotlights looking for prairie chickens. One night my boss and I were working together, our coworkers were at another site about 5 miles away and we’d made plans to meet up if either of our groups finished up in our respective areas. Anyways, it’s about 4o’clock in the morning, very dark out, and my boss and I both notice the grass on a hilltop opposite us was illuminated – as though someone had parked their truck on the other side and turned their brights on lighting up their side of the hill. It was coming from the direction and general distance our trucks were from us, so my boss and I decided to head that way assuming our coworkers were meeting up with us. We drive the ~1/2mi to the hilltop, when we finally crest, all we see are the reflectors of our parked trucks in the distance. No lights, no vehicles, nobody nearby. Mind you, we were working in incredibly remote areas in Wyoming. The roads in and out were treacherous, there’s no possible way someone snuck a truck in and out to spook us without us seeing them. This was prairie, we could see everything around us for miles. We saw that light, but now it was nowhere to be seen. Anyways, that was weird.” — Teh_Critic

18. A mysterious gray film hovered in the air

“Went camping with a friend in a isolated southeastern forest.

We left a little too late and realized we wouldn’t make our designated campsite so decided to camp under a overhang of rock that would be sufficient to keep rain off of us.

We started a fire, cooked chicken, talked and he went to sleep fairly early. I’ve always been a night owl and I was sort of just chilling there on my side when I realized I was putting a lot of pressure on my phone. I lean up to get it out of my pocket and I see it.

It’s a smudge. A grey film hanging in the air. My first instinct is its the moon reflecting light off the aluminum foil onto the rock ceiling. I look for the aluminum foil – can’t see it. I look for the moon – it’s raining, no moon.

That’s the moment I realized I had no idea what I was looking at. That’s the only time I’ve ever felt actual terror in my life. I immediately scrambled back and yell for my friend to wake up. And the smudge hesitated then accelerated away and dissipated as if it was never there.

It was frightening not because of how it looked, but more so that I didn’t have a damn clue what it was.

We thought maybe some folk were screwing with us with flashlights, but no one was around and it honestly wasn’t bright enough to be a flashlight. It was just slightly brighter than the dark wall behind it.

I’m a scientist and while I have a open mind, I’m also pretty skeptical, but I honestly believe I saw something.

No idea what it was, damn interesting though.” — Slovish

19. I spotted a ghost inside of an abandoned cabin

“A year or so back I did a 3 month long outdoor expedition in Arizona. We saw plenty of strange things. Ranging from the Marfa lights while on our way by car to our canoeing section. An old Mexican man trying to sell 15 people ( our whole group) hatchets for chocolate… or the calls of elk near our camp. But nothing beats this one strange thing only I saw. We were nearing the end of our 3 month expedition, was probably the last 2 weeks and we started our ISE ( individual solo expedition) we started the trip in the Galiuro mountain range as a whole group but split into 4 groups of 4. My group was the most experienced hikers so we gave ourselfs a 25-30 mile loop through 3 days as the rest did easier 15-20 mile sections. The first day was alright with nothing too challenging. The second day things got weird for our group. We heard footsteps near us but no one was around. About 7 miles into the day we saw an old abandoned cabin that we used as a marker since it was on our map. We were going to start heading east once we reached it. But we decided to take a break near it. So we placed our bags on the ground and started to talk and snack. About 10 minutes into the break I needed to pee. So I wondered away about 30 feet closer to the cabin and started my business. I could look inside the cabin while I was standing there so I peaked inside. And I swear to god I saw a whispy looking man inside the cabin standing there looking at me. He was wearing an old tattered, dirty cotton shirt and brown pants. With a long white beard. As I saw the man a chill was sent all through my body. I freaked out when I saw him and quickly finished up and rushed to the others and told them what I saw. None of them believed me so they joked a bit but I was quite distraught by this. I told them either go look for yourselfs or let’s gtfo and they realized I wasn’t kidding at that point,( Mind you I’m not a huge muscular guy but to this point in the expedition we have gotten to know each other quite well and they knew I wasn’t easily freaked out, I was usually the one to grab a snake and get it out of camp or other crawling creature) but they saw how freaked out I was and high tailed it the fuck out of there. The rest of the day was fine until night came around and we all heard the foot steps again. So we all become on edge and pulled out our camp knifes and kept them close. Eventually we all fell asleep and nothing else bothered us the rest of the time, but that freaked me the fuck out and still have nightmares about that man to this day.” — Selter711

20. My little cousin started crying over something unseen

“Camping with family, it’s about 11:00 at night in the middle of a forest. Pitch black, you can’t see anything without a flashlight. Out of the blue, my little cousin who was about three at the time starts crying. When my uncle asked him what was wrong, he just kept repeating ‘help, guy come.’ He couldn’t yet talk in complete sentences yet, which made the whole situation even more terrifying. Nobody slept well that night.” — queen-of-hell

21. We ended up near a mountain lion den scattered with bones

“My cousins and I got a cabin in West Virginia for a few days. Every night we would hear some farmers dogs barking at something in the woods near by but I just thought it was just coyotes, Ive gone hiking in California a lot and know that coyotes don’t really bother people in a large group. We went hiking out in the woods by the cabin and we followed a road until it ended for a few miles and then keeps going until we got to a sort of a hill where the trail zig zagged down. I said we should just take a short cut and go straight down so this is where we all kinda split up, me and My friend Omar when down the hill while one of my cousins stayed at the top of the hill to rest for a minute awhile my other two cousins took the trail. we got about half way down the hill when i saw something white in the leaves, i went up to it and it was just a vertebrae and hip bones of a large deer. Omar asked me is coyotes killed it so i took a closer look and noticed that its neck bones had been broken so it was a higher likelihood of a mountain lion , then a few feet down we found another spine and then a kill that was probably a day or two old (it still had skin on it). It started to look real bad, the sun was going down we where all scattered and we where defiantly in its territory. My cousins are the panicking type and would try to run which is a bad idea so I told them it was probably going to rain and we should leave before the trail got too muddy and too dark. Me and Omar told them about what we found later. They didn’t even leave the cabin for smores that night.” — The_Saweed

22. We found an empty stroller out in the middle of nowhere

“I grew up in a rural area, so we had a lot of undeveloped land surrounding our neighborhood. There were some ATV trails off one of the dead end streets, so my friend and I used to go hiking and exploring there. One day we were hiking a couple of miles down the trail when I spotted something bright pink off into woods. Curious, I decide to go check it out. As I start to get closer, I quickly realize what the object is, a little girl’s stroller. Whats really creepy is the fact that it was standing upright, as if someone placed it there not too long ago. It was also facing away from me, so I circled around it very slowly just to make sure there wasn’t someone or something sitting in it. Thankfully, it was empty. Still creepy to see something like that randomly placed out in the middle of nowhere.” — Ombee

23. I heard heavy footsteps following behind me

“I was hiking the Appalachian trail thru the GSMNP and ended up between shelters as the sun fell and ended up hiking into the night. I was maybe 3-4 miles from the next shelter when I started hearing heavy footsteps the sounded like cinder blocks crushing leaves and sticks on the ridge above me. Those footsteps followed me for at least half an hour but it felt like a lifetime. I never saw what it was.” — Quiet_MoJo

24. A mysterious stranger stumbled across us in a remote area

“I’m not sure writing it does the creepiness factor justice, but anyways:

Me and a group of friends camp in this really remote area in Southern Brasil, not far from the border of Argentina. It’s by a small pond with only 4-5 families, all small ‘vacation houses’ that are only sporadically occupied. There’s 0 cell phone service in this region.

So we spend a day swimming and grilling and whatever, and most are sleeping except me, when I see a flashlight through the trees not too far away (maybe 100m).

I just watch the flashlight, thinking maybe it’s someone going to another camp who arrived early (I guessed it was 3am-ish). Then the person (a woman) started yelling in kind of a panicked tone in a language I didn’t understand.

Some Gauchos out there do speak German, and it sounded like a weird English, so I thought maybe it’s German – so I woke up my friend who speaks some.

He yelled out something, and the person replied again, but my friend didn’t understand. He said maybe it was Dutch. So I tried shouting in English, but this time the person didn’t respond at all.

They pointed their flashlight toward our camp, paused for like 10 seconds, then turned it off and we could hear them running quite fast across the woods. None of us were able to really go back to sleep, it was just creepy.

The next day, we walked around the pond to each camp and asked if anyone heard/knew who the person could be, and nobody had a clue, although some said they heard the yelling and saw the flashlight and thought it was just us being drunk or something.

This is a really remote area, that nobody would ever be there by mistake. To this day it’s probably my biggest ‘wtf’ moment. I still worry that it was a lost tourist or something who stayed lost in the Brasilian bush.” — GeraldoSemPavor

25. We found spooky drifters with cold eyes

“In my experience, the creepiest thing you can see out on the trail is a sketchy person or a drifter. I was on a weekend hike with a friend, and we came across a man standing just off trail staring at us as we approached. I offered him a greeting, don’t remember exactly what I said. No response.

He had cold eyes and was just generally spooky. We were pretty far out from the nearest town, and he had zero hiking gear. Normal clothes that looked clean enough.

We passed him, and kept trudging on up the trail. I glanced back over my pack and the guy just turned and walked into the brush.

We stopped hiking that area.” — i7xx Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Holly Riordan is the author of Lifeless Souls, available here.

Holly is the author of Severe(d): A Creepy Poetry Collection.

Keep up with Holly on Instagram, Twitter and Amazon

More From Thought Catalog