Camping is supposed to be a relaxing activity, where one can reconnect with the outdoors. Unfortunately, there's no telling exactly what will be for the campers when they get into the wilderness.
Campers on Reddit share the creepiest thing they've experienced in the woods. Content has been edited for clarity.
“Creepy, But Incredibly Cool”
“I spent some time in the peat swamp forests of Borneo studying wild orangutan. We would go into the forest very early, around 4 am. One morning, there was a clouded leopard on the trail we used to enter the forest. It was just crouched there watching us. We shouted, tried to act big, one of the people we worked with even took out his slingshot and shot rocks at it (he missed on purpose just trying to scare it off).
It stayed there for a good five minutes watching us before it slowly walked into the thick brush off the cleared trail. When we walked by, I shined my light on where it had walked to. I could clearly see a pair of reflective eyes only three meters away, crouched watching us pass. Creepy, but also incredibly cool to see one in person for how critically endangered they are.”
If It Wasn’t Eric, Then Who Was It?
“I used to teach outdoor education. Which was essentially just summer camp during the school year, and school groups would come up and spend a few days at the camp. On their last night, we would always tell them a scary story around the campfire. It was the same scary story every time. We worked as partners so there were always two staff members for every school group. One staff member would tell the story, and the other staff member would go hide in the forest and make scary noises.
So, I’m telling the story, and every few minutes there’s like a snap of a twig or rustling in the bushes. Of course, as always, the kids all get freaked out and they start getting scared. It’s very fun. Well, as I’m telling a story I’m walking around the campfire looking at all the kids’ faces and I noticed a familiar one. My partner Eric. Sitting there smiling at me wondering why I’m staring at him.
My heart has never started beating so fast in my life. Eventually, I sped through the story and all the kids left. I explain to Eric I thought it was him in the woods and his eyes got very wide.
He said, ‘Are you telling me that that wasn’t one of the staff members?’
So we both RAN back to the main road.”
“Such A Weird Sight”
“When my father was sent to Alwar, Rajasthan, for archaeological study, I encountered a very strange thing. Our house was near a small forest. One morning, I saw a group of blue bulls (a kind of Asian antelope). They were five in total, and they were running in circles around a skull for like 30 minutes.
Then, one of them took it into the forest and they all followed him silently. It was such a weird sight, it still gives me creeps.”
Learning What Actually Happened
“In middle school, I worked at the school during the summer, doing general painting and helping the maintenance guys. One day, we had to drive out to the middle of a Floridian forest to pick up some pine lumber for the gym’s new bleachers.
When we got to the mill at like seven am, the whole place was locked down with police. They had found gasoline cans and pill bottles out in one of the tree farm groves, telltale signs of kids abusing substances, but supposedly the cops were there because they found human remains. I was pretty young and I don’t remember anything outside my little kid point of view, but I remember seeing streaks of dark blood running up the trunks of several pines.
I’ve since learned from the guys I was with then that a teenager was killed by a bear after attacking it, and the blood was either from the wounded bear climbing the tree or dragging a hurt person up with it.”
“We Wanted To See What Was Up”
“When I was a kid living in Queensland, Australia I used to ‘bush bash.’ Meaning, I would walk off the beaten track through thick scrub. I knew the national park my house backed onto like the back of my hand. I knew from the topography where I was at all times. Both my parents were ex-military and had a sort of ‘hands-off’ parenting approach. They trusted me even as young as 12 to venture off on my own into the wilderness.
So I could just pack a lunch, and my sister and neighborhood friend would join me. We’d head off early in the morning, returning just before sunset usually.
Once, when I, the oldest, was about 14, we had been following creek beds and bashing over heavily forested hills towards an area I’d never been.
We came down a hill, through a gully full of ferns and followed a dry creek bed for another hour. As we traveled, the sides of the creek became steep and rocky, and before long, we were passing through a gorge.
As we emerged from the gorge, we noticed what looked like a dwelling. Being idiot kids, we wanted to see what was up. It looked abandoned at first. But as we got closer, we saw tarps had been affixed to the ramshackle structure. Chicken-wire surrounded what looked like a pen just outside.
As my eyes traveled across it, I suddenly caught another pair of eyes looking directly back at me. A rottweiler. We started slowly edging back away from the property, but it was too late. The dog started going nuts and, worried that it was coming after us, or at least alerting the people who were living in the hut, we bolted.
I went back to the area a few times, but not too close to the abode itself. Each time I’ve gone back, I’ve found discarded bones from small game and other bits and pieces, spent .22 casings and such.
As an adult and knowing the area, it’s very likely we stumbled across either a homeless person camping out. Or a narcotics lab. As the area, as I would find out as an adult, was absolutely riddled with those types of labs.”
They’re Never Going Back
“I was walking with my cousins about 14 years ago when we found what looked like an old burned house. So naturally being kids at the time and having no sense of self-preservation, we decide to explore it. Mostly, it was just full of charred wooden trash and junk. But as we were about to leave, one of my cousins found an entrance to a cellar outside. We busted the old rusted lock off the door and looked down inside.
It was dark down there, and we didn’t really have any reason to go poking around it. Plus, we were starting to get creeped out so we kicked some dirt down into it and walked off. When we get about 15 yards away from the house, one cousin says he hears a noise so we stop. And yep, there was a noise like somebody coming up the rotting cellar stairs of the house. We peek back through the trees and see a dark kind of fuzzy shape crawl out of the cellar which we left open. It looked kind of like a big old dog.
And then it stood upright. We freaking hauled our butts out of there. We all ran off in different directions like morons, each of us convinced whatever the cellar thing was chasing us. I ran right through some briars in a panic and tore up my arms and legs, which got me in trouble when I got home. We were all fine otherwise, but we did avoid going that far back into the woods after that for a long time.
The closest thing I can figure is there was a small black bear living in the cellar. Maybe it had another entrance we didn’t know about, and we woke it up being little brats. But seeing something hairy and dark come out of that cellar then stand up was like being in a horror movie. I never want to see that old house again.”
“Could Have Been There A Month, Or Five Years”
“I hunt whitetail in Saskatchewan in very remote places. One time, I was driving through old logging roads (70-110 years old roughly) in the northern provincial forest, looking for a place to set up camp. We were probably 40 kilometers from the forest edge as the crow flies, and closer to 60 kilometers from the closest town.
We had the chainsaw with us, and by the amount of clearing we had to do to get the truck down the trail, I’d say the area we were in hadn’t been traveled by vehicle in at least five years. A little before sundown, we were getting close to where we wanted to hunt and parked the truck to find a clearing to set up the tent. Walked about 50 meters into the bush and found a full girls’ bedroom set just set up in the middle of the forest.
There was a four-post bed with a faded pink blanket (the bed was made), ornamental mirror hanging from a tree, an antique dresser in makeup, and brushes scattered on it. Couldn’t really tell if it had been there for a month or five years, but it was creepy as heck. We got back in the truck and set up camp at the entrance to the forest.”
There Were So Many, The Dog Was Scared
“I worked on a farm as a volunteer for a bit a few miles out of town and deep in the forest. My job was to feed the turkeys and chickens, as well as a few other things like harvesting the garden. I remember working out there a few months ago and I was walking the family dog while they were in Florida having a baby shower. We were heading down a small dirt road when the dog froze and looked in this one direction into the woods. She started whimpering and running up to me while she was staring something down that I couldn’t see.
After like 15 seconds of me trying to calm her down and looking around the woods for what spooked her so much, I started hearing a ton of croaking. Seconds later, like 50 toads started to leap across the path in the same direction, going around us both and I noped the heck out and left the farm with the dog. Weirdest thing I’ve ever experienced.”
“It’s Crazy And A Little Unsettling”
“I work in forestry doing reforestation work in northern Ontario (Canada).
I, and several people I work with, have found balloons out in the middle of nowhere, having drifted sometimes hundreds of kilometers from the nearest town or city.
Happy Birthday balloons, Valentine’s Day balloons, Mother’s Day balloons, wedding anniversary balloons, plain decorated balloons, any kind of balloon can drift out anywhere, so long as it’s filled with helium. It’s crazy and a little unsettling how far they can be carried once the wind catches them.”
This Wasn’t A Regular Survey
“I used to do salmon spawning surveys, which involved walking up streams looking for fish. Some streams are quite remote and/or inaccessible on timberland, and you don’t really expect to see any other person when you’re out there. As a naturally smiley, friendly, small feminine woman, I’ve learned to be wary of people 100% of the time in the field. I actively try to avoid running into people when I’m alone in remote places.
One of the survey locations is close to a highway. To get to it, I had to park at a pullout, follow a river downstream to a flagged trail, hike over a ridge to meet up with an old logging road on private timberland. I walked along the logging road for about 100 meters before peeling off into the woods (very thick second-growth Douglas fir reprod), where game trails eventually lead to the stream at the base of the hill slope. I came here during spring to survey steel head, but this stream was also a survey location for other types of salmon during the fall. The game trails off of the logging road were flagged by previous surveyors, and multiple routes were marked. This made it kind of confusing, and not all routes actually led to the stream. Some just petered out once the vegetation got too thick. Another led to a cliff face overlooking the riverbed. Lots of faint trails.
One day, I turned off into the woods to one of the survey flags tied around a branch at the side of the road. I followed some pink flagging heading south along the hillside. I noticed the trail seemed freshly turned up, and figured maybe a bear clambered through recently since the time I was there last (two weeks previously). The trail led to a small claustrophobic clearing, and the ground was freshly torn up in the shape of a circle. Seemed strange. I was looking for elk tracks but didn’t see any.
Then I noticed an assortment of bones scattered around the edges of the clearing. These weren’t there before. Everything was dead silent, and something about it was setting me on edge. I poked around the bones a bit, trying to piece together this scene. I noticed another slight path, which strayed from my main route, veering to the right from the clearing. I walked a bit down that way and gazed ahead trying to see if this path was flagged. It was densely packed with trees. A subtle movement caught the corner of my eye ahead and to the right as I walked — I turned my head to look past the trees and saw the silhouette of a large shelter maybe about 50-75 feet from the clearing. It was surrounded by what looked to be jugs and bones. Tons of plastic jugs. Light shapes of bones on the ground. The lighting made seeing anything else impossible. Everything was so, so quiet.
I left in a hurry, off the trail, without trying to get a better look, without getting to the stream. The alarm bells in my brain were screaming.”
“Not Out Of The Ordinary”
“My mom used to live in a small town in the cascade mountains and worked as a forest ranger. The creepiest thing that happened was when the oldest male ranger kept hitting on her and trying to get her to come home with him. This was not out of the ordinary behavior for this guy.
But many years later after she’d left the town, she found out he had been convicted of manslaughter and had killed a young female ranger right before she got hired. She would have probably been his next target.”
Woken Up Unexpectedly
“I drove out to Big Bend National Park over spring break a few years back to solo the Outer Mountain Loop. The first day was spent hiking the Dodson trail through the unrelenting desert, and setting up camp in a large valley. I was super stoked by the lack of other backpackers as I thought going during the break would result in a lot more traffic.
The next day, I set out shortly after dawn and again saw two or three people over the next eight hours. I tacked on a couple of side routes to hit the South Rim where you can see probably 50 miles out into the Chihuahua Desert and into Mexico, amazing views. I set up camp at the base of Toll Mountain on the edge of a cliff with about a 1,000-foot drop-off.
With the sun beginning to set, I rushed out to hit my last goal, Emory Peak, which is the highest point in the park and has an incredible 360-degree view that seems to go on forever. As it was getting dark and I was smack dab in the middle of big cat country, I rushed as much as I could. The last about 100 feet was bouldering to the peak and I started to wonder what I was getting into. Alas, when I got to the top, I was washed in pink and orange light as the sun was starting to dip below the horizon. It was an amazing feeling to know that I hadn’t passed anyone in hours, and sitting at the top of the peak. I felt like I had the entire park to myself. As I scrambled back down to camp, I definitely noticed that my knee had taken a beating over the course of a 15-mile day and I was eager to cook and go straight to bed.
I woke up wide awake in the middle of the night with a bright white circle shining through my tent. I was absolutely frozen stiff and I thought for sure that I was dreaming, but then I could feel the intense ache of my swollen knee and realized I was indeed awake and there was indeed a light shining into my tent. Being as how I was most likely hours away from any other humans, my mind raced as to what the source of the light could be. I turned my head to look at it and it immediately shot away and was replaced with a green light. My heart was pounding out of my chest, but I absolutely could not move out of fear.
This continued for maybe five minutes. A light would appear and shoot off like a watermelon seed the second I looked at it. The lights were all the same size and of various colors: red, white, yellow, and green. I never heard any noise and they were gone just as quickly as they had come. I never got up the nerve to get out of my sleeping bag, especially since they were bright enough to where it seemed like they were coming from directly outside the tent.
I hiked out the next morning through a gorgeous canyon and dry river bed system and drove my 10 hours home to Houston. I have been backpacking and camping for over 20 years and had never had an experience remotely close to this before or since.
An interesting side notes that I didn’t know of until after my trip is that the mountain range that I was in is called the Chisos Mountains. Chisos is a Native American word for ghost or spirit. I have to assume that they named this area because the wind is constantly blowing through the valleys and with little vegetation to stop it there is a pretty eerie constant whistling sound.”
“I Have No Idea What He’s Talking About”
“I was out in the forest with a friend of mine and was getting settled in to go to sleep. My friend was still walking around with his headlamp and is just staring at one spot out from our camp. He keeps talking about blue dots out there. I’m looking at exactly where his light is and I’m not seeing anything.
Eventually, he walks out and starts digging in the leaves then comes back. He keeps asking if I see the dots, and of course, I have no idea what he’s talking about. He hands me his headlamp, and then I see them.
Hundreds of little blue dots everywhere. On the ground and in trees. We found out that every single one was a spider.”
Not An Ideal Place To Be
“I worked at a nature center on 80 acres that was up against a national forest of several thousand acres. My commute was great at a whole 1/4 mile from my front door to office door.
One day as I was walking home, I wasn’t paying attention as I lost in the thoughts in my head. When I looked up finally, I noticed a big bobcat about 20 feet from me. We just kinda looked at each other and tried to figure out what the other one was going to do. Finally, they decided I wasn’t worth the effort so they went back into the woods behind my cabin. One of the few times I have actually had to grab my bear mace.
The other time, I was doing some trail maintenance with my coworkers up from the city. We came upon a baby black bear and didn’t initially see the mama. Well, it turns out it was because we were in between mama and baby. We just backed out of there slowly and headed to a different spot. Possibly more terrifying situation but with other people it was less so at the moment, rather than being alone.”
“Truly Frozen In Fear”
“I was hunting in northern Wisconsin. I was about 20 miles out of town, another 10 miles into the forest. I was 12 or 13 at the time. Only my first or second year being able to carry a loaded weapon with me after completing hunter’s safety (a course about loaded weapon and hunting safety, knowing effective caliber distances, knowing what’s behind your target, etc.). I was very eager to hunt on my own, instead of sitting with my dad.
I was dropped off at the trail where I had made a mark at around 4:30. I used my flashlight to search the trees for the reflective markers I had set up the day prior leading to my stand. I started making my way through the dense, completely dark, silent, forest when I came to a small clearing surrounded by trees. It was about 15-20 feet in diameter, almost a perfect circle, surrounded by trees too dense to shine my flashlight through. I only made it to the middle of the open area before I heard leaves ruffling, a twig snapping here and there from my right. It was a quiet set of footsteps.
Immediately, I knew these were the footsteps of some kind of predator. They were stealthy and quiet compared to the squirrels, rabbits, and other small animals that drag their bellies on the ground. I shone my light over there only to realize I was unable to see past the treeline. All of a sudden, I hear the same sounds to my left, in front of me, and behind me. I was surrounded. I was truly frozen in fear. I could hear multiple things all around me, just past the trees, unable to see anything with my flashlight, I tried to regain my composure amidst the pitch-black forest. It (is or was at the time) illegal to load your weapon before dawn, so I was surrounded by something, with no real defense aside from my field knife.
This went on for nearly 30 minutes until the day started to break. The sounds trailed off just before this. The second I saw light, I loaded my Remington 870 with as many slugs as it could hold, and braved my way past the treeline. I saw nothing. Shaken but not in immediate danger, I continued to my stand which overlooked a small creek over a ravine. It hadn’t been 10 minutes when I saw a pack of wolves across the creek. I ended up counting 13 of them.
I’ve never experienced paralyzing fear like that before.
I no longer hunt in that location. Apparently, the wolf population has killed much of the game wildlife like deer, turkeys, etc. over the years. The past couple of times I’ve been out there, I haven’t seen deer at all.”