25 Backpackers And Park Rangers Reveal The Creepiest Thing They Found Lurking In The Woods

These stories from Ask Reddit will convince you to stay inside this October.
Something lurking in the woods
Unsplash / M Wrona

1. We discovered a human skull buried in the sand

“I was like 12 and lived near the sand dunes. We used to hike there all the time. My grandmother came to visit so we both went on a hike and I see this weird circular rock in the sand. I point it out to my grandmother and she goes over there and starts removing the sand around it and she notices blood on the rock. She then pulls it out of the sand and its a human skull. We reported it to the police. So what happened was that this dude was killed by his roommate and he cut him into 5 pieces and buried each part in a different location in the sand dunes. We found the last missing piece. His skull. We were on the news! Pretty cool memory I have of my grandmother.” — 2BeersADay 

2. A woman was living like Norman Bates, keeping her dead parents with her

“Not really camping but as kids we lived in a new neighborhood. It was next to about 400 acres of woods and old farmland. There were several abandoned houses and barns, equipment, and random junk. It was great to grow up there as we spent nearly every day exploring the area.

But there was one house off the main road, but about 200 yards into the woods. It looked abandoned but a woman lived there. We found out the hard way by trying to get into the house one day, and she came out screaming at us to get the hell off her property.

She was scary looking as hell. She wore a dirty dress and had gross stringy hair, and look like she hadn’t taken a shower for years. She looked to be in her 30’s. Needless to say, we stayed away from her most of the time. We also never told our parents because we knew that they wouldn’t let us play back there anymore.

We did go back sometime though. We named her ‘Crazy Mary,’ and we’d spy on here, and dare each other to get as close as possible. Even then we never got closer than 100 feet from her house.

About 10-12 years later I am home from college and my mom tells me about how they took this woman to the mental hospital. Apparently she lived there this whole time with her dead mother and father propped up in their chairs in the living room. They figured the parents were dead for 10-15 years, but died of natural causes and Mary had propped them up in the chairs after they died. That meant the were probably freshly dead when we got chased away by Crazy Mary.” — Luder714

3. My friend found a suffering man who attempted suicide and failed

“One of my friends went on a solo fly fishing / camping trip for the weekend. He was in the middle of a creek fly fishing and kept hearing the weird garbled sounds from up the creek, so eventually he decided to check it out when he took a break for lunch. It turned out to be a guy that had tried to commit suicide by shooting himself, but he was still alive. My friend hauled ass back to service to call 911, and had to hike back in to show the cops/medics where the guy was. Never found out what happened to him, but my buddy was so freaked out that he had been that close as the dude was just laying there for hours.” — champagne_farts

4. We found a massive pile of skinned animal carcasses

“I was hiking in so woods on a property my father rented as farm ground with my older brother. After a while we noticed a sickly sweet smell, being farm kids we knew what it was, something dead and left to rot. As we kept walking we entered a mash like area, soft, squishy ground and very tall grass. We had walked through marsh like areas before so we walked on the large grass clumps, being very careful where we placed our feet. After making it to a larg clump of solid ground I look up and find a massive pile of skinned animal carcasses. The pile was easily over 10 feet tall, with a 15 foot circumference. It comprised of every animal you could think of, rabbit, fox, coyote, deer, weasel, cat, dog, raccoon, and others I couldn’t recognize. The old man that owned the land trapped year-round for anything he could get. He just kept throwing the carcasses in the same pile year after year. After we left the area it dawned on me, the marsh was not in a lowland like most marshy places. The group was just saturated with the decaying fluids of all those animals. That’s also the reason the grass was abnormally tall in that area.” — Handlbar_relay_box 

5. I found a piece of a decomposed human body

“I live in Alaska and less than 2 months ago I was hiking through the woods on my way duck hunting. I was probably less than 100 yards off the trail when I found pieces of an extremely decomposed human body. Obviously I turned around immediately and called the police, the body was torn apart by animals and decomposed enough that it took a week or so to identify it. Turns out it was a 53 year old lady who had gotten lost hiking a mountain a couple months earlier. What amazed me was that even with an extremely extensive search for her when she went missing she still wasn’t found and she was so close to the trail.” — Seriwanabuckulamian

6. I came across an eerie children’s graveyard

“While hunting in eastern Mississippi I stumbled upon an old farmstead foundation complete with the family graveyard and a collapsed well. All the gravestones were dated from just after the civil war and most were women and children. No combat-age males were buried there so I assume they died in the war and the family couldn’t survive. The whole area was super creepy, especially the well.” — Gundanium88

7. I was completely alone in the woods — but smelt a woman’s perfume

“Following a trail through the snowy woods on a cold winter night. Suddenly, the strong scent of woman’s perfume. Just in one particular spot. I was past it before it really registered. That’s odd, I thought. I stepped back. Yes I could smell it. I took another step, the smell was gone. When I stood in one particular spot I could smell it, but one step either way, there was nothing, and the trail did not intersect with another. I stepped off the trail into the deep snow, and sure enough, no scent to the left or the right. The night was still, no wind.

A chill went down my spine. By this time I was looking around to see if maybe someone was hurt off the trail, or even if there was a body nearby. I called out. No response, called again, listening carefully.

And I stood there, wondering what to do. And then I carried on, with my hair standing up on my neck, looking back over my shoulder.

You know what? I just realized I never looked UP in the trees.” — im_dead_sirius

8. There were mangled dead animals with bones poking from their flesh

“I’ve been homeless… A lot. I lived in some distant family’s land where they have an old cabin up on stilts, due to the local woods flooding heavily sometimes. (Illinois is weird.) Anyway, I spent a good amount of time in this old cabin. Wood stove, porch swing hanging from the ceiling that I used as a bed. Overall, it was an okay place and it wasn’t TOO FAR of a drive to town for food, you just had to tolerate the half mile walk to your car. One day I am out walking around the woods and in a smallish clearing in the path, I see easily a good 50-60 dead geese. Every one of them is mangled in horrific ways, necks ripped off of the body, bodies splayed out over old timbers and fence posts, feathers EVERYWHERE. Bones sticking out of the dirt. It just looked like a straight up goose genocide. The ground was dry, and there was a lot of dust, but I saw no prints, and there was no other evidence of anything being in the area aside from what one can only assume was some sort of strange breed of exploding goose. I also found a torn open old backpack and a great deal of candy wrappers strewn about it. Way to moldy to identify anything about it. I decided to turn back and see if I could grab a camera when I start hearing this god awful SHRIEKING noise, as if it were coming from every possible nook and cranny within a 30 foot radius. I took off pretty fast when that started. To this day, my best guess is some sort of massive commune of foxes. It really is the only rational solution I can come to. Still scared the shit out of me.” — Nkechinyerembi

9. He found a young boy trying to hang himself

“Not me, but a buddy found a young kid (16 I think) in the process of trying to hang himself about five years ago (He was hooking a makeshift noose up to a tree). Upon seeing my friend he stopped. My buddy talked with him and they walked and talked. They lad was gay and his parents and family had disowned him when he came out to them. My buddy and his wife let him stay with them for a few weeks until he moved to a family members house. They are still firm friends.” — scrappy1982

10. Two meth heads pulled a knife on me, so I threatened them with a gun

“I do night photography in the wilderness. When life gets too hectic I pack a bag and head out into the most remote county I haven’t visited yet and hike until I find a spot I like. Very relaxing to be out alone in the middle of nowhere doing some night photography, enjoying fresh air and peace and quiet.

I was on some BLM land in California in the desert. Had a nice evening, slept in, enjoyed breakfast and started to head back to the car.

On the trail back, I see two meth heads with a makeshift campsite and junk all around (I hiked in another way).

They see me approaching and I wave and say hi, being polite and hoping they mind their business. They don’t.

Both step onto the trail and begin to approach me. One pulls a knife.

I immediately pull my revolver from the side of my pack, cock it and point it at them.

Loudly, I tell them to back off. They leave the trail and I make my way past, while they give me a menacing look.

I face them, backing away on the trail until the sight line vanishes.

I then run to my car. When I get there I drive off and call the authorities about the incident.” — fromdario 

11. I found a human arm from a murdered woman

“A human arm. I was working for the city park board, and a woman had been murdered and the asshole who killed her cut her into 6 pieces and scattered them around the city. The park is big, but it’s within the city, and idiot criminals seem to think they’re in the Yukon out there. Little did he know, a camera above the parking area for the garden where I worked caught him. The whole thing was grizzly. I had to testify as a witness. My worst memory of it was having to leap over the arm while we were waiting for the cops and shoo a kid and his grandma away so they wouldn’t blunder onto the crime scene. It took me a long time to get over the sense that any kind of branch or log on the forest floor could be a sad person. I still hate mannequin hands/arms.” — conefishinc

12. We spotted the vehicle someone used to abduct hikers

“Oh man. I hope someone reads this, ’cause holy shit.

I like primitive camping and me and my wife go out sometimes by ourselves. We usually bring the dog and spend a couple nights. This time we invited some friends for drinking shenanigans.

Anyways, on the first day we heard a vehicle coming down the road. Not odd, there are maybe 10 more sites on this several miles of road. It’s a dirt road with nothing there BUT these primitive sites, one way in one way out.

What is odd though, is that the vehicle was a meat packing truck (or maybe ice cream truck). It was old, really old, and all the lettering/signage was faded or taken off. It was this fading beige and decrepit. None of us actually made out the person driving it, but there were no tags/plates on the back at all.

So we all get creeped out but collectively kind of decide it wasn’t as weird as we thought and get back to enjoying our night.

Flash forward to the next morning, my mom calls. She is panicking, freaking out. Apparently, some hikers were abducted near us. There are several girls at our site including my wife and she is convinced it was them (no names were released). I wanted to know how near, so I pulled up my GPS and an article I found about it with their last known locations.

It was about half a mile away from where we were.

I legit don’t remember what happened after that but I’m scouring the news from those years hard to find an article. I want to say they found one of the girls tied to a tree. Apparently there are quite a lot of people abducted and murdered on and near the parkway, finding this. Pretty sure they never found the guy though.” — onlythisonecomment

13. We found an empty, child-sized grave

“Two adult sized empty graves and one child-sized empty grave.

Later found out that they had been relocated, but freaky shit at 2 am in the middle of nowhere.” — MrAcrimony

14. We found a skinned lion nailed to a tree

“Mountain Lion skin nailed to a tree with partial skeleton below.” — 0verland3r

15. I found pages of a shredded, burnt bible

“I’ve found shredded and burnt pages of a bible deep in the woods. It wasn’t on a main trail, it was barely on a path that was starting to be overgrown again. But a few scraps and a bit of google later I realized they were bible pages.” — AdjectTestament

16. We found plane wreckage atop of a mountain

“On Wright mountain in the Adirondacks, there is still plane wreckage on the summit. They obviously cleared alot of it but I was up there about 5 years ago and you can still find some pieces of very weathered metal in some off the beaten path places.” — A_Trustworthy_Pear

17. I found a gently used baby stroller sitting in the woods

“This past summer I was working on a project monitoring amphibian larvae in vernal pools. Many of them were in the middle of wide expanses of state land largely unpatrolled, technically with no public access but plenty of old logging roads and ATV trails people don’t usually use for poetic strolls at sunrise through nature or birdwatching.

I stumbled onto a lot of illegal dumps with weird things (sofas, construction equipment, hundreds of chew cans, baby clothes), not to mention plenty of abandoned camps/hangouts for people to shoot up (plenty of disposed paraphernalia…).

But without a doubt the creepiest thing I found, while all alone about 5 miles from a paved road following only deer trails, was an upright, gently used baby stroller. There were toys in the storage areas, and a blanket still in the main area. I have a picture of it on an old phone.

I just stood there and stared at it, like any moment something from the Hills Have Eyes was about to step out from the woods.” –PragmaticMoth

18. We saw a white, faceless, man-sized doll

“I was hiking through a set of old train tunnels in Colorado with another female friend. When we got to the last (and longest) train tunnel, we both got this horrible feeling that we were being watched. We entered the tunnel, and began walking toward the other side. We kept hearing strange echoes and noises, but we both nervously laughed it off.

We had one flashlight between us and, at the middle of the tunnel, it started to die. Right before it went out, we saw this really creepy, white, faceless man-sized doll. It had been stabbed repeatedly where its face and groin would have been. White stuffing was leaking out.

We heard loud shuffling behind us. The light went out. We hauled ass and RAN to the end of the tunnel. On the way back, we took an alternate route. Neither of us ever went back to that trail.

To this day, I have no idea what went on there. Was it a homeless guy? How did the doll get there? That scene was the stuff of nightmares!” — DoodlingDaughter

19. I came across a dead man hanging 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 2 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

20. We found a pile of disturbing fish skeletons

“Sheephead fish skeletons. Like hundreds of them in a pile. This was also before I knew what a sheephead fish was so it just looked like a pile of dead fish with human teeth.” — I_am_spoons

21. We discovered a box filled with bones

“A large plastic storage box bound by bungee cords filled with flies and bones.” — ChipMcFriendly

22. We heard strangers talking outside of our tent

“Camping at Yellowstone/Grand Tetons a few years ago. He set up our camper at an actual site and decided to do some two day long backpack trips in some of the longer trails. The second one we went to was Cascade Canyon. Absolutely beautiful.

So get about 10 miles into the 22 mile loop and decide to set up our tent here since it was getting dark. We cook some food and chill for a bit before heading to bed. Around 2 am, we’re all awakened by something just outside the tent. My mind immediately jumps to bears or wolves or something.

Then it starts talking. I will never forget it. ‘I think there’s 3 or 4 in the tent. Let’s just get out of here.’

None of us could sleep the rest of the night. At the crack of dawn we high tail it out of there. Made excellent time. Hiked the 12 miles in about 3 hours and got to ranger station. Reported what happened, they said they had received a call similar to our story in the middle of the night. They sent rangers into the trail at dawn.

Never found out what was going down. Didn’t hear of anyone getting hurt, but then again I didn’t really look into it.” — CappuccinoBoy

23. We found an unsettling pile of human clothes

“When I was a boy, my father and I came across a full set of women’s clothes in the woods. Shirt, pants, underwear, even the shoes. We thought it was pretty creepy and reported it to the state police, but I don’t think anything ever came of it. It was fairly close to a river, so maybe the person went skinny dipping and couldn’t find their clothes after, but it was an unsettling discovery.” — CynicalScooby

24. We found an abandoned farmhouse

“When I was a kid in the mid 90s my friends and I were hiking around in the woods behind our house on some Weyerhaeuser timber property and found an abandoned farmhouse.

The weird thing was that the house had been left very suddenly. There was still unopened mail and magazines sitting on the coffee table, all dated back to same date in the 1950s.

Sheets and blankets still on the beds, clothes still in the drawers, pantry full of canned and jarred food, half of it exploded or leaking after so many years. Dishes in the sink, dishes on the table. Unburned candles still sitting out waiting to be used. A fridge outside full of food that had turned to muck and dust.

After exploring the house for a while we checked out the farm. The chicken coop had dozens of chicken skeletons, wrapped in desiccated skins or picked bare. There were two pig skeletons in a pen, and the remains of a horse and several cows in the surrounding pasture.

A tractor was parked in the garage and was in great shape for its age.

It didn’t occur to me as a kid at the time but aside from the house having been left so suddenly, it was really remarkable that the entire place was undisturbed. There was no vandalism, no sign of entry, and as far as I could tell, we were this first people to set foot in there in 40 years.” — pupilkupil 

25. I found two dead animals huddled together

“I found two squirrels huddled together, dead, in the middle of a field. It was July. I still think about what must’ve happened and draw a blank.” — NCFire94 TC mark

The truth is that you can be struggling and still be loved.

You don’t have to solve your whole life tonight. You just have to show up and try. Focus on the most immediate thing in front of you. You’ll figure out the rest along the way.

Start Now

More From Thought Catalog