30 Hikers On The Single Scariest Thing They've Seen Deep In The Woods

30 Hikers On The Single Scariest Thing They’ve Seen Deep In The Woods

These stories from Ask Reddit are going to make you want to stay indoors all summer long.

1. I was in Syria on a visit from Australia back in the late 90’s. I saw 2 dogs in the distance, about 30 meters away, lit up by a bright moon. They had faces that looked human. I seriously froze. They walked up to about 10 meters away and looked totally flipping human. One of them growled so I fired off a round and they ran away. I immediately headed back home looking over my shoulder the whole way. I told my aunt what I saw and the house erupted in laughter. It was some local ghost story. Everyone had an encounter with them at one stage or something. Fuck those dogs.

2. It was in the summer around dusk and I was camping at a remote campground with my dad. There was a lake right next to the grounds and my dad and I would trail blaze through the forest right next to the lake because if you went far enough there was a really pretty waterfall. A few strange things happed on this hike. We found a slash pile that had a little kids shoe on top. When we came to a small clearing, my dad had to take a leak to he faced one side of the clearing and I faced the other and we both clearly heard a child say, “I’m over here.” My dad thought it was me, and when he realized it wasn’t, we spent half an hour looking for someone, but we found nobody. After that, we gave up on going to the waterfall and started to make our way back to camp, but there were clear sounds of something following us (twigs snapping, bushes shaking). We haven’t been camping there since.

3. I was in the woods with three friends at night. A friend’s house was nearby and I was getting hungry so I went inside to find some food. Another friend came inside with me. Two friends were still outside.

Later on, one of the two who were outside comes in and sees the indoor friend on the couch next to me. They panic and immediately run back outside.

I poke my head out the door asking what’s going on, only to hear them yell as loudly as they can: “THAT’S NOT KEVIN”

Everyone comes inside and calms down a bit, and the story comes out. They thought the friend who was indoors with me (Kevin) had been outside with them this entire time. Why? Because in the darkness of the woods they saw a silhouette about the same height walking alongside them silently, then at some point it ran away and they were chasing it thinking Kevin was running off for some reason. The reason my friend yelled, “That’s not Kevin” was to stop the last outdoor friend from chasing whoever was out there deeper into the woods.

We still have no idea who that was or why they didn’t ever speak.

4. My girlfriend and I had driven down an old dirt road that ran beside a lake on one side with mountains on the other. We were looking for unexplored territory to hike in. The dirt road became a trail and eventually was swallowed up entirely by the forest. Once the path became impassable by car we got out and hiked for quite some time and began making our way back to the car as the sun was going down.

It was a challenge getting the car turned around but I finally managed and we were off. It was slow going as it was a shitty road and getting dark fast. Suddenly we came to fork in the path that hadn’t been visible coming the other way. Neither of us had any idea whether to go right or left so I just picked randomly, hoping that both would end up taking us back to the main road.

As we rounded a small curve in the road our headlights fall upon a man dragging a large hockey duffle bag off the trail into the woods. As soon as the lights hit him he just froze completely still. Driving past him felt like an eternity because we couldn’t have been doing more that 5 miles an hour, due to the shitty road. My girlfriend and I didn’t say a word to each other until we were well past him…at which point we were like “Wtf was that?” And then the road ended. Just like where we had stopped the first time, the forest had swallowed up this part of the road. We were going to have to turn around and drive by the man with the human sized duffle bag again.

I told my girlfriend to buckle up and hold on tight because at the first sign of trouble I was going to gun it. We came to the spot where the man was and he was nowhere to be seen. We eventually made it to the right path and got the fuck out of there.

The weirdest thing about it was that there wasnt a vehicle anywhere near this guy for 50 miles in either direction. We would’ve seen it if there had been. We’d traveled as far as possible both ways and there just wasn’t and place to pull off of the road. How the hell did he get there? Where was he going? What was in the bag?

5. I go hiking in the woods that permeate my town, sometimes so late that I get to see the sun rise out there.

The strangest thing I ever saw was what I could only describe as a shanty town was built up seemingly overnight deep into the woods. Simple little hovels made of scrap metal and bed sheets and a small fire pit that someone had made out of an old tire, with the fire still burning. But that wasn’t the weird part.

The weird part was that this was well passed midnight when I found this place and it was quiet as a grave. There was no one there. Someone made the trouble of getting a fire going and then left it. From the look of it this place could hold about a dozen or so people and yet there was nothing there but the fire they abandoned and whatever possessions they had left in the shanties.

6. I go out for walks very late at night fairly often, so I’ve seen a few things.

The creepiest though, happened about two months ago. I left the house around 1:30am, and it started off as a normal walk. I wandered around the town till about 2:00am, when I decided to go home. I was walking back the route I had came when I noticed a black van meander down the street. Didn’t really pay to much attention to it though, at first. I did pay attention though when I saw it slowly drive by me for a second time. I wasn’t entirely sure it was the same van though, so I just continued walking. But this time I kept an eye out. And low and fucking behold, about ten minutes later, the same damn black van came down the street again. This time I knew for sure because it didn’t have license plates. Now I was fairly scared, so I picked my pace up a little bit. When the van came around again this time, it stopped in the middle of the road a few houses in front of me. I stopped, turned around, and booked it back in the other direction. I made a few turns onto different roads, and then ran right into someone’s yard. I waited behind their fence, and the same fucking van came down the street. I assume that when they couldn’t find me, they finally decided to fuck off. But I waited in that yard for about 20 minutes before I ran back to my house and practically threw myself through my bedroom window.

7. Oh goddammit, I forgot the one that *actually* made in fall down clutching my heart.

I was camping and some of the group had gone off on a late night stroll. After a while, me and a friend got bored and decided to go look for them. It was pretty much rolling grassland hills with few trees out there, so we figured it wouldn’t be hard. It was also unearthly quiet, other than the occasional distant owl or coyote sounds, so we were whispering and being very chill. There was pretty good moon so we hadn’t brought lights either. Anyway, I finally see someone standing under a tree on the crest of this hill, so I go up there first. I call out quietly and don’t get a response. Again, no response. Kinda annoyed, I just strut up there, but I’m realizing something looks weird about this person I’ve been seeing. They’re holding their arms over their head and the proportions aren’t right. But I think that was all kinda subconscious, because I didn’t do anything different until I got close enough to see that it wasn’t a person at all, but a fucking coyote that someone had flayed and strung up to the tree by the limbs like some kind of totem. I literally fell backwards in shock.

Turns out the woman who owned the property was no fan of coyotes coming after her livestock. She also woke us all up in the middle of the night once with sustained AR-15 fire. Like 20 shots. Someone who lived near there just said “Oh she must have found a whole pack of them. Go back to sleep.”

8. It wasn’t what I saw – I saw nothing out of the ordinary. However my dog got very agitated around a certain part of a trail and alternated between barking and snarling, and hiding behind my legs. It creeped me out enough that we hurried out of there fast.

9. I walk at night in my rural area regularly. I’ve encountered black bears, coyotes, bobcats, angry deer, and everything on down, with no real concern. But the creepiest encounter, was a little black pickup truck with rainbow and unicorn stickers. Bubblegum pop music blaring, and it smelled like cottencandy when it passed me. First time it passed me it swerved to hit me. I jumped out of the way easily. I thought nothing of it really, just figured they were startled by seeing me at night with my reflective gear. The truck circled back and comes at me again. I saw it coming this time and grabbed my dog up just in time to jump into a ditch. I heard little girl laughter, high pitched and maniacal. The tiny truck circled back for a third go at me, but by then I was hiding in my neighbors shrubbery. I watched it slowly drive down the road, hearing giggling as it passed me. Fortunately it kept on going and I made it home just fine.

10. I’m late to the party, but years ago some friends and I were going to have a campfire at a lake late at night, with copious amounts of alcohol. When we got there, we had to drive around a barricade, and one of the cars got stuck in the mud. While trying to get it unstuck, I looked around and made a joke about how we were definitely in the beginning of a horror movie. We all laugh about it. We get the car out and continue to the lake, get all set up, fire is going, music is playing, drinks are flowing, we are having a great time. All of a sudden some random fucking guy comes walking out of the woods with a beer. I get nervous, everyone else tells me I’m being paranoid since I watch a lot of scary movies. They invite him to join us, he ends up sitting next to me (but a few feet away). I go to grab another beer from the cooler, see the hatchet that someone brought and I decide I’m going to hold on to it. I sit back down and this random guy makes some comment about he can see my jugular and wants to bite it. I’m ready to peace tf out, but I of course didn’t drive. A little while later he makes a comment about he should have brought his chain saw. I’m completely alone in thinking this is going to end badly, I move across the fire and closer to the cooler and one of my friends. I set the hatchet next to me, try to ignore the guy and enjoy my night. Fast forward a bit, and the guy is making more weird comments so I reach for the hatchet. It’s gone. I start glancing around, discretely at first, when the guy smiles at me from across the fire and goes “looking for this?” and holds up the hatchet. I said “fuck all of this, I’m leaving” and managed to get one of my friends to leave. The next day everyone said that nothing more happened, but as someone who has seen A LOT of movies, I wasn’t taking any chances. I’m white, but I’m not laugh off a crazy guy with a hatchet white.

11. I drove to a park to go hiking at night in the mountains (so safe I know) And I hadn’t even turned off my car and I already feel like I’m being watched. There weren’t any cars around so I thought maybe it was just me being paranoid for some reason. But for some reason I looked to my right and I see this weird looking humanoid shape on top of the little bump hill about 50 feet away. At first I though it was a weirdly shaped tree until I saw the arms move (no wind at all). So now I know there’s a person staring at my car trying not to move, for what I assume is for me to get out of my car and leave to a more secluded area as we were next to the road.

Of course I left, I don’t go hiking at night in that particular park anymore.

12. A few friends and I went on an over night hike in the Rockies behind our little town a few years back when I was in HS. Our camping site was pretty far up there and it was getting dark. The spot we were at was nestled in a grove of trees secluded from the wind and elements so we decided to stop there for the night. The four of us built a little fire and ate dinner then just talked for a few hours. Then all of the sudden my friend leaps forward and douses the fire with our emergency water plunging us into complete darkness. Needless to say the rest of us were pretty pissed as there was no reason for him to do this. He quickly shushes us and we realize he is absolutely TERRIFIED. Like so scared he couldn’t even speak or move. The rest of us manage to get a few word out of him and he tells us to look up on the ridge we’re we should have been camping at. It was pretty far up so it was kind of hard to see at first, but that sight will haunt me for the rest of my life. There was a fire, a big one, like a bonfire sort of thing. Around the fire were several figures moving in a slow circle. They were humanoid but not quite, and in they had arms and legs like people but something just seemed different about them that I can’t really explain. Almost like the limbs were too long and skinny or something but maybe not. Anyway these figures just moved around the fire in a really slow circle over and over again. My one friend claims he could hear them singing something but I don’t remember anything. Importantly there was one standing off to the side a little ways leaning with his arm on a tree branch above his head. It really creeped us out but we were able to sleep it off. We figured it was a scout troop having a camp or something. Morning came and we finished off our hike to the peak and on our way down we passed the place we saw the figures and decided to check out the camp. It was completely deserted. It was obvious that there had been a fire and there were foot prints everywhere. Inside the fire pit was a small mound of charred animal bones (probably chipmunk) and a pile of four or five rodent skulls that had been burned. Creepy right? Then we look over at where the one figure was standing. Blood. Not a lot but enough to be of concern or anything but enough to be creepy. Then we see the tree branch he was casually leaning against. It was well over any of our heads and I’m over 6 foot. That would mean that in order for the figure to lean against it like he was, he would need to be at least 7 feet tall. Needless to say, we got off that mountain very fast and I have never been up there again. We called the fish and wildlife rangers and told them what we saw. They said it was probably just a bunch of kids messing around and not to worry about it. It might have been just that, and we let our imaginations run wild, but all four of us swear to this day we all saw the same thing and it didn’t look like a bunch of kids in the dark. I don’t believe in ghost or the supernatural but those mountains still scare the shit out of me and I will never go back there again.

Don’t believe me if you don’t want to, but there is something out there, ghost or dumb kids, I’m not going near it.

13. Not intending to mock any religion or beliefs and I really don’t know which group this would be credited to anyway. Wickens? Druids? Just a psycho?

Anyway, I was hiking through a park in central Florida about 3 years ago. Kind of dense scrub brush. You can only see the trail in front of you. Brush is chest high on both sides. I’m about 2 miles from the nearest trail head and it’s around 7pm. I had an hour of light left. I had intended on setting camp when I found the next clearing.

First clearing I get to has a gator head in the middle with a circle of stones around it. Maybe 2-3 weeks old. Just a dried skull with scales. Soft tissue was gone. I had seen gator skulls left by poachers before and I usually ignore it, but it gave me a weird vibe so I kept walking.

About 15 minutes later (and deeper in) I get to another nice sized clearing. This time, a few dead birds were strung up to some sticks and hanging in a circle, like a mobile over a baby crib. 7 or 8 small birds. Maybe 4 feet across. Had been there for a while. It didn’t smell any more at least. Still creepy enough to send me on my way. Third times the charm, right?

Wrong. 20 minutes later and after taking to side paths to get away from the main trail and hopefully avoid any other “displays”, I find a fresh one. A deer head on a stick. With sticks scattered around making 4 circles around the base of the stick. The blood was splattered all around the sticks. Fresh enough for the flies to still be on it. The head smelled rancid. Didn’t see the body, but I didn’t look for it either. I got out of there. I was dark before I got back to my truck.

Called fish and game the next morning, because the gator and deer would have been taken out of season. Told them what I found and apparently this wasn’t the first time somebody called about animal effigies in that park. Never went back but I am curious just how many other “shrines” were out there.

14. About a year ago I was talking a walk at a local nature park, it’s rather big, right alongside a big inlet river. I tend to cycle up there as there is plenty of drops and jumps for me to do on my mountain bike, but this one day/night was a bit weird, you know when you can just feel something in the air?

I was going about my business as usual and realized it was getting pretty late, like not dark but the light was beginning to fade, not many people were there that day but all day I just felt like I was being watched, I lined up a drop which runs next to a set of stairs, quite a long one, right as I hit the drop I hear this almighty fucking squark, really throaty, bit of a roar combined with like, a bird I guess, my handlebars wobbled a little bit but I managed to get to the bottom without falling.

I slam on my brakes and look up the drop behind me and there was this figure, human like just standing at the top, he was wearing denim jeans with this fucking weird, almost pagan-esque robe/garment which had like feathers on it, all tattered and stuff, and he just looked at me, dead pan, no expression and after about 10 seconds just let out this fucking noise again, really loud, eyes stretched out – I shit my fucking pants, and began to cycle out.

Now it’s about a 10 min ride of windy paths, going over little wooden bridges covering small rivers/runs – and I swear to fucking god this noise happens like 4 more times, each a little closer and to top it off, there was fucking nobody around, like normally you get couples walking through, or older folk with their dogs, but nobody, nothing. I’ve been back twice since, and each time I just cannot get comfortable enough to stick around and enjoy myself like I used too, one day I think I’ll grab a bunch of my pals from hockey and go exploring, see if we can figure that shit out.

15. I have spent many a night hiking in deserts and mountains and never felt uncomfortable or saw anything creepy until the time I looked up.

I took a night hike to some petroglyphs not too far from Durango, CO. I was alone, was about an hour hike, and it was just after midnight when I got to the petroglyphs. Checked em out then sat on a ledge and busted out some summer sausage and my flask of whiskey.

I look up to the sky and waaay up there is a speck moving pretty quickly, I’ve seen this before and been told it’s the international space station or a satellite. So I’m watching it zoom across the sky thinking how cool it is… When it suddenly reverses direction. My mind is doing mental gymnastics trying to figure it out, maybe two satellites passed each other and I lost sight of the one I was originally watching. Except it happened AGAIN and it went back the other way on a slightly different course.

I actually stood up and said ‘what the fuck?’. I don’t know much about space, but I felt really uneasy watching that white speck way up there doing that, like my mind is seeing something it knows shouldn’t be happening. And then I felt a sense of dread, which was bizarre. And then I lost sight of the speck completely and high-tailed it back to my truck.

16. It’s time for a light supernatural story.

Not so much of a hiking though, it was a survival test for joining a mountaineering club in my campus.

There were 20-ish of us including myself, in the middle of the woods, with our foods were confiscated by the recruitment committe so that we needed to find natural foods from nature such as fruit (especially banana), edible plants, or even locust or snake if lucky. Miserable test, but valuable experience indeed.

One day, it was raining so hard in the afternoon and all of our 5 groups hadn’t finished set up our group bivouacs. We intentionally set them near each other so we could check everyone instantly something is going wrong. No one was talking or chatting to each other, it was only given by our soaked clothes and empty stomaches, when suddenly all of us heard a hysterical woman scream. An 5-seconds surprised woman scream. Everyone heard it and the scream was so close and loud, we all thought it was one of us screaming because of snake or something.

So naturally, the boys jolted instantly to a bivouac we thought was the source of the scream. No girls were crouching or standing up as we imagined. All of us stared at each other, especially the girls as we thought one of them was pulling a prank on us to surprise us. No one claimed the scream nor admitted that it was her joke, everyone looked equally shocked. After minutes of investigating the girls, we then went back to our respective groups with an unanswered incident, even after the recruitment process was finished and we went back to civilization.

After we officially members of the club, we shared that story to our seniors and it turns out, the place my batch used to set bivouacs was the first time to be used in five years. And the last batch used that part of the woods experienced the exact screaming incident, also without any logical explanation, and they chose to base that incident as their batch name “Forest’s Cry.”

17. It was late and we decided to take a shortcut through a construction site because we were tired. Because all the streets around the construction site were closed it was completely empty, just the two of us in the South Loop area of Chicago.

We’re crossing this small bridge and just chatting away about what we liked the most about the show. I was looking at him and then turn my head forward and am face to face with what looks like a zombie rat. Someone had taken a mummified rat or squirrel or something and use wire to position it like it was pouncing mid-air at your face. Scared the fuck out of me.

18. Wasn’t hiking; but was camping near the Appalachian Trail when I was a teenager (admittedly to go drink on the 4th of July). Lived near the Appalachian Trail my whole life, so knew that it was a ripe spot for meth heads, and serious poverty.

We had chosen a nice big clearing that was next to a parking lot, but we knew the area well enough to know that it wasn’t a very visited spot (gotta drink somewhere). Woke up in the middle of the night to a low hum of some type of vehicle; dismissed it as being in the parking lot. Fell back asleep next thing you know the ground was shaking, felt the ground almost compressing, so the car couldn’t be more than 2-3 feet from our tent driving at a slow pace with the headlights off.

Naturally thought it was a park ranger but was too scared to be caught drinking to say anything. So I froze up and just pretended to be asleep. Eventually the car drives by full gas, and could hear it go off in the distance, but all the sudden everything was silent, and I see A LOT of flash lights walking past our tents, I dismissed it as how lights can look like a lot of lights when shown through a tent.

So thinking it was my friends who gotten out to check what was up with that car. I told them to “shut the fucking lights off”. They did, all went off at the same time. I then turned over to see the out line of all my friends in their sleeping bags, but since we had one more tent I wasn’t worried. The guys in the other tent the next day then ask us if we had gotten out and drove through the campground last night, we said no.. I then asked them if they went to check it out. They in turn said no. They thought it was us just returning to our tents.

I then had the most uneasy feeling in the world, like I was about to throw up.

19. I heard a ruckus once I cannot explain. Trees shaking, growling and grunts. This was middle of winter and everything was still, and then all this exploded. I ran to my stand since that was closest and posted up trying to figure out what it was. Still don’t know.

20. Hiking in central Maine, near the 100 mile wilderness section of the AT… about as thinly populated as you can get in the lower 48. Wife and I pull up to the trailhead at about 2AM after a long drive and epic storms, and decide to catch a few Z’s before hitting the trail at sunrise.

After settling in we notice a blinking light on a distant mountain – there’s no illumination for miles and miles in any direction so it sticks out immediately – and comment on it likely being the only radio tower for 50 miles. Then the light starts slowly moving down the hill, it’s maybe a couple miles off, and we both get interested. We figure it must be some truly insane bastard coming down the mountain in the darkest part of night with a headlamp, and the blinking is when a tree obscures line of sight.

It keeps coming and picks up speed, and at this point we start to make casual jokes that it’s coming rights towards us. I can’t remember how long we had the car’s lights off, but at this point we turn them back on as we’re starting to feel a little creepy. We watch the light come down the hill, covering the couple miles in a minute… maybe two. Then it’s right outside about 20 feet off the ground and blinking. We grab a flashlight to try to see what it is, but can see nothing – it’s just a blinking light about the brightness of a dim street light appearing every few seconds. It hovered there for around 20 minutes, then was suddenly gone.

To this day we have no idea what it was. I assume some kind of giant glowy bug, but I’ve lived in the country most of my life and have never seen anything that bright or a bug move that fast.

21. My wife walks our dogs late at night.

She heard a sound and couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. It was a high pitched whining like a radio controlled car, and seemed to be coming from the graveyard near where she crosses a road. She figured an electrical box had failed, and continued walking.

Both dogs immediately started alerting and staring at the graveyard behind her. Then she saw the culprit: a quadcopter.

Now remember that it was past midnight. The quadcopter didn’t have any running lights. And it started to follow my wife. She was more than a bit upset, so she messaged me, and asked me to be ready to drive and pick her up.

The quadcopter continued to follow her, and matched every turn she made. She said to me that she was scared of it knowing where we lived.

She was ready to call the police, when the quadcopter turned around and headed off. I drove to pick her up, and we drove out of town to approach our home from a different route.

The next day we asked the local online community groups about it. Turns out that this quadcopter had been following women to their homes for a few days. The police were notified, but the quadcopter’s pilot decided to lay low, and the police couldn’t find anything. We’re assuming that the quad pilot saw the forum discussion about them.

22. Didn’t actually see anything, and I’m really glad I didn’t. A friend and I had started walking a trail system that leads deep through some woods and fields by his house around dusk. During the day it’s really peaceful and green and whatnot, but it was late and it was getting dark fast. The area we live in has been flooding recently and the trail is currently 2 feet underwater about half way through the loop, but my friend said we could walk to that point and then take a shortcut back to the beginning through one of those man-made pine forests where the trees are all perfectly lined and spaced apart. We only had to go about fifty feet into the pines before the canopy made it pitch black all around us, but he knows the area so we kept going. About a hundred feet further in we both hear a very distinctive squeaky door noise. Like, literally no chance of it being anything other than old rusty hinges. He’s come through here twenty times in the past few weeks while jogging during the day and confirms that he’s never seen any type of building or anything with a door back here. We both decided that we’d rather just walk the trail back the way we came in than deal with whatever horror movie shit was happening in there. I’ve never noped out of a situation faster than I did then.

23. I was out taking my dog on a short walk and to go to the bathroom. She was a rescue and was at this point terrified of everything. So getting her outside was always a task.

It was ~4 am and she was whining at me. I figured she needed to go to the bathroom so I put on some shoes and took her outside. It was a warm night as it was July in Missouri.

I’m walking down the street from my apartment complex and I see a figure standing under a streetlight, not moving. Thinking it was just a guy out for an early morning run, I kept walking. That’s when this figure started to move towards me in a weird fashion. He wasn’t jogging, wasn’t walking, it looked like skipping.

Thinking to myself “uhh what the fuck.” I stopped walking. That’s when my dog started growling from behind my legs. I’d had her almost six months and had never heard her growl or bark. I turned around and walked back into my complex. I looked over my shoulder and this dude is standing at the entrance to my apartment complex, head to toe in black clothing, grinning from ear to ear. I was fully in what the fuck is this bullshit mode and walked back into the complex further while checking to make sure smiles wasn’t following me. I started to walk towards my entrance and he turned and slipped away into the night.

I went and talked to my landlord the next day and she told me they’d had multiple reports of this guy skipping around the complex late at night but whenever the cops showed up he was gone.

24. Two cubs and no mother. In other words, I had probably come between them.

25. Usually, it’s what I hear. Large (fallen) branches snapping just out of sight of my head lamp. Or waking up an hour later and hearing steps and leaves rustling, but too exhausted and fearful to inspect or want to know (probably nothing important anyway).

One time I returned to my car after a late night hike with friends and my SUV was covered in… foot/hand/paw prints. They were just sooo large and even dragged a little in the dust. It was on/near a large military base in the mountains. I think some local enlisted may have made them to scare us. But it was just so well done. Pretty scary for all of us because it’s what you’d imagine the Blair witch would do. No animal did it.

26. This happened to me a few years ago. I used to go to school at the University of California Santa Cruz. I’m a runner and the campus is in a beautiful redwood forest, so I would run on the trails. One day I left a little later than usual on a run through one of the more isolated trails. Here’s where it gets weird.

I was about 15 minutes running deep into the woods and still hadn’t seen anyone else around. Suddenly, up ahead, I saw what appeared to be a homeless man in ragged clothing walking on the trail. Now, he was walking further into the woods, and this path went very very far and the sun was setting. Aka this man was spending the night in the woods. I wanted to reach my usual running checkpoint before turning back so I decided to keep my distance and run by. As soon as I passed the man he called out to me, “What came first, light or sound?”. In my head I was like wtf this guy is nuts, but I decided to humor him and yelled out light without looking back. He said, “well I think it’s sound, but who knows…” and started mumbling to himself. I continued on.

I reached my goal and started to head back. It was really dark now and I was feeling sketched out that I had to pass this guy again to get back. He seemed pretty crazy and potentially dangerous but I didn’t have a choice. I got passed the point where I first passed him but he was nowhere to be seen. There weren’t any other branches of the trail and if he had headed back I would have seen him by then. He must have gone off the trail. Suddenly a girl from up on a hill screamed for me to stop.

I stopped and looked up on the hill but it was too dark to see anything. I was freaked out. I called out to ask if she was alright and eventually saw her climbing down. The hill was really steep so she put in a lot of effort to get up there and away from whatever was after her. She said that she was on a run when a scary homeless guy started harassing her and he chased her up the hill. But she didn’t know where he went. She was going to spend the night there until I came along because she was too scared to go back down.

At this point we both wanted to get the hell out of there. Who knew if this creepy man was like lurking around watching us from the dark. So we ran back together and made it to the road. She thanked me and we parted ways. Never ran back on that trail again. Santa Cruz can be a pretty weird place, I’ve heard legends of students flunking out of school there and then just living in the forest. Maybe this guy was a student from years past.

27. When I was younger and stupider and going to college in the north Georgia mountains, my friends and I would go night hiking a lot on the trails near campus. I got pretty familiar with the area, and being out in the wilderness at night in general, which probably made me too confident.

One night the full moon was out, and the weather was perfect, so visibility was crazy good (everything was basically washed in dim blue light). I was slightly stoned, and feeling adventurous, and I love doing fun stuff alone, so I decided to go enjoy a night hike by myself. I took a flashlight, but this was around 2002 so no cell phone. I chose a super easy trail that was mostly flat/ maybe a mile loop, in pretty secluded area, but not exactly a national park or anything (very rural area). I didn’t even need my flashlight for most of it, and just hiked in the moonlight; it was actually a really cool/ beautiful experience at first.

At some point I started feeling uneasy, and maybe a millisecond later I heard a man’s voice. It was coming from a good distance ahead of me, somewhere off in the woods, maybe from the right side of the trail. He was crying.

I’m honestly an empathetic person, and 99.9% of the time I hear someone crying I want to comfort/ help them in some way, but this time I felt sick in the stomach, like a dry panic attack, if that makes sense. I remember coming very close to calling out to him, because my brain was trying to tell me he might be hurt, which was the only reason I hesitated – but it was like my body shut my voice down before I could say anything, and I knew I had to stay very quiet. He was sobbing like he’d just found out a loved one had died, but also gibbering, and almost-babbling, like he was less than a person. There was a shrillness to it, under his crying, like he was holding back a scream – but perpetually, on and on, as if he’d been doing it all night. I remember it vividly, and my spine is tingling like crazy even as I write this. It’s hard to explain, but I knew deep down he wasn’t right in the head, and nothing good would happen if he realized I was listening.

I went back the way I came; it was like I had tunnel-hearing, and the only sound in the world was that crying. I was hyper-aware of everything else around me, and beyond paranoid that I would snap a branch, or snag my boot on something. I worried the man’s crying would get louder if I wasn’t paying razor sharp attention, getting closer, or turn into an outraged crazy-person scream.

Thankfully it just faded the further I got from it, and I made it back to my car. Still, I was convinced some wild-eyed hermit was going to rush out of the forest and bite me to death, right up to the second I locked my doors and got the fuck out of there. I finally had the rest of my panic attack on the drive back. I managed to park back at campus, and I just sat in the car and collected myself. Adrenaline is fucking powerful.

I have never felt a shred of guilt about leaving that guy crying out in the woods in the dark. I know I was slightly stoned, but slightly is the key word there. I’m convinced to this day I was in very real danger that night. Definitely not as insane as most of the stories in threads like this – but sometimes I get that same sick feeling deep down, whenever I wonder what might have happened if the moon been less bright, or if I’d been more responsible, and I’d decided to use my flashlight even once. He’d have seen me for sure.

28. While it did not happen during the hike, rather the camping, it was still the creepiest thing I’ve experienced out there.

Was working at a summer camp for kids and we went on an overnight outing. Had a cougar circle our camp from around 11pm to roughly 5am. It was crying out, hoping one of us would separate from the group. I stayed up all night with bear spray and a hatchet keeping an eye on it with the other staff.

29. Not hiking so much as car camping, but we were way the fuck out there in the middle of nowhere on BLM land in Colorado. We drove for an hour and a half down a forest service road and didn’t see another soul. You could see headlights and hear cars from miles away from our campsite – it’s not like somebody could have snuck up unnoticed.

We had 3 cars with us and 8 people. Just got done eating dinner, cleaned up, it was getting dark so we went back to the cars real quick before hitting our tents for the night. Somebody had slashed the front right tire on each of the 3 cars with what appeared to be a box cutter. Everyone thought it was a prank but it become very apparent, very quickly that it wasn’t. All of us were beyond spooked, like panicking, scary to watch spooked. We all had spares, and one dude had a gun, so we threw on our donuts while that guy literally guarded us and got the hell out of there.

I still have nightmares about it sometimes. Just knowing there was some person, probably watching us, maybe wanting to harm us, makes me feel physically ill to this day.

30. I used to often spend my summers bouldering with my friends by a relatively large forest that was about an hour and a half away from where I used to live. We used to spend some of the nights camping out there just to save some travel costs and time.

Anyway, I think this was roughly like the third or forth time we were out there camping, my friend had left all her climbing gear and her rucksack just outside her tent or we definitely think she did anyway. The next morning we found her boots, a few clothes and all her chalk powder had disappeared. We figured that it could have been completely feasible that she misplaced it, although we were quite sure that they were next to her tent we didn’t really want to believe that they were stolen. Anyway, we didn’t read too much into this and just stupidly said to ourselves that perhaps she had left it by the boulders and some animal took an interest to it… I know it sounds stupid but it was very reasonable to us at the time

Anyway fast forward a year, we’re at the same spot as usual, sitting by the tents and chilling after having some food. Mind you it’s pitch black out, and only the camp area is lit by the fire. I go somewhere a bit out of sight for a slash and what do I see? A dude in a full on ghillie suit laying on his stomach looking right towards our camp site. I kinda stood there frozen as this dude clocks that I’ve seen him and he just bolts it out of there.

I don’t know whether the event to the year prior was related to the ghillie guy but this definitely has stuck to all of us, we haven’t been back there since which is a damn shame. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

January Nelson

January Nelson

January Nelson is a writer, editor, and dreamer. She writes about astrology, games, love, relationships, and entertainment. January graduated with an English and Literature degree from Columbia University.