Sometimes there's more to the forest than meets the eye. People went to Reddit to share their most jaw-dropping, bone-chilling moments in the woods. We scoured through for the best stories and have edited their responses for clarity.
"My friend told me about an old married couple that he had recently helped out. He had seen them come to the park several days in a row, and found out they were visiting from out west, and they had gotten engaged there decades prior.
They had been searching for a spot they’d taken pics of where he popped the question but were having trouble. After looking at the pics and figuring out roughly where they were trying to get to, he took them in his vehicle, then hiked with them to where he thought it would be. They found it, and he left them there and went back to his station at the entrance.
He said he got a weird feeling once he got back. And felt like he needed to wait to see them whenever they left. Well, once it came time to lock up at night he still hadn’t seen them leave, so he reported it, left his assistant to wait at the shack at the entrance, and went back to where he left them.
He found both of them lying down spooning along the bank of the river. Neither were alive. He called the cops. Went through the nine yards, and went home.
The police were able to disclose to him their identities, but weren’t sure anything else initially. Later he learned that the wife was terminally ill with cancer, and they had both offed themselves by ingesting something. They just chose to do it where they had gotten engaged at.
My bud wasn’t torn up about it. He was obviously sad for about them dying, but said that he thought they hadn’t asked for help earlier because they didn’t want anyone to think they helped kill them."
"I was hiking in Andorra with a friend. Long story short, we got lost off the trail and ended up in Spain. Found another trail and we’re following it, without a map.
A while ahead of us we see a man with two golden retrievers walking in the same direction we are. He looks young and is carrying climbing gear over his shoulder. We’re rushing down the trail to catch up with him and finally do. We ask him for help with directions, and he tells us exactly where we are and where we need to be - about 12km away there’s a town with a hotel. He says there’s another, smaller, town about 6km away and that he parked his car there. He says he can give us a lift for the last 6km if we like, but says that he’s in a hurry. We are over the moon and so we hike together for a while.
The dogs are nice and friendly, running circles around us. We are chatting away to the guy and he is really nice, but my friend and I are getting tired and so we cannot keep pace with him for long. The trail bends away to the right and the man (now a bit ahead of us) disappears behind the bend. We get there a couple of minutes later, and the trail is empty - no man, and no dogs, even though the trail is a straight run for quite a while and we should’ve been able to see them. The two of us continue on, alarmed, waiting to hear/see something, or perhaps be murdered by a stranger. Nothing. We get to the town eventually, and from there made it to the safety of the hotel in the next town over.
We were completely freaked out by his sudden disappearance and to this day we are both convinced he was a ghost."
"I lived on the outskirts of a national park in a cabin. It was a four mile drive from the main road just to get to the property, and we had no plumbing or power - this property was right next to where the parks started, to call it the middle of nowhere is an understatement. My roommate at the time was interning with the park service, but he is a city kid.
Every evening at the dead of night I had been hearing noises in the woods, what I thought was someone walking... but then they'd just stop in particularly overgrown areas of the jungle, so your mind starts to doubt itself.
Is it a pig? A cat? Is it just the wind?
The cabin didn't have a locking door, and the owners didn't want me to install one, so I began sleeping in my car. Now, this is a huge property, and I'd park my car over an acre away from the cabin and where I was hearing something.
I started hearing those footsteps again.
I moved out, my roommate (who thought i was bonkers,) stayed and still slept there without a locking door.
He got robbed, not once, but twice after I moved out! So he finally put up motion triggered cameras.
There was a man with a long-weapon who'd hike up to the property, set up in the bushes, and watch us."
"In 2010, I was stationed away from home for military duty near a mountain range. Me and two of my equally bored buddies dedicated our weekends to explore the area. We would randomly choose a peak or a valley and try to see the end of it. We would usually hike off trails to experience total solitude. It was one of those days. We didn't pack any camping gear because we expected to return back to base before dark. It didn't go as planned as we sort of lost track and it was already night time, way into darkness. We were stuck in some random place we didn't know and we were in a tense mood. We kept arguing on how we got lost, how we should have taken another route and whose fault it was. After some silent treatment, we saw the lights of a small village a few kilometers away. It was a relief. We decided to reach the village and sleep over there. We rapidly hiked lower from the hills and ended up in a dried canyon.
The canyon would make turns to the right and left every 50 meters or so and we couldn't see what was ahead of us. We kept walking under the moon without our torches. Just before one of these turns, I saw a couple of glowing eyes in the distance. I didn't make much of it. It could have been any random animal, we were used to it. So we kept walking and as we made the turn, more and more eyes started popping out. They were directly looking at us. They were not making a sound. They were not moving. As we walked closer, the number of eyes multiplied. There were maybe a hundred eyes looking right at us. Large, glowing, green eyes. They belonged to something possibly as tall as us. I couldn't think of any animal that large. We stopped where we were. The canyon had two ways. Ahead of us there were big alien eyes, behind us there was a big mountain. We had nowhere to go. After a moment of total confusion, one of my buddies took out his torch and directed at the eyes. As soon as the light reached them, they started running around. It was chaos. The eyes were moving every direction possible. There were loud barks and we could tell some of them were running right at us. We couldn't do anything. We froze. All I could do was to take out my torch and weapon. I accepted my fate but I was totally in to get some of their blood.
Then I started seeing them. I could see who those eyes belonged to. They were running right at us. A pack of unbelievably huge shepherd dogs were rushing towards us and the remaining set of eyes belonged to a very large pack of cows. It was a relief. We were not about to be killed by blood thirsty zombies, outer galaxy aliens or Chernobyl mutants. It was just some dogs who were about to kill us. We quickly closed the ranks and directed our torches in their eyes. The dogs stopped at a three meter distance and they completely circled us. We were stuck there for a couple of minutes as they kept running around us. Then a man with a hunting weapon appeared in the distance. He shooed away the dogs and it was once again peaceful silence. We walked back to the village with him and his brother took us back to civilization with his tractor. We didn't die."
"They went to do a patrol during summer at one of our seldom used campgrounds. On a patrol, our maintenance ranger found a burnt out car in one of the sites.
The desert is a weird place so he just calls the sheriff and waits. Sheriff arrives and it turns out there’s a body in the drivers seat. With no arms and no legs. Just a torso and head. Burnt.
Sheriffs just marked it as a suicide and removed the vehicle. We are close to Mexico and get a lot illegal substance traffic. So I guess they don’t even bother trying to solve those.
"I have been a ranger in the USFS for almost fifteen years, but this takes place about three years after I joined. We were getting calls about a lone wolf with a collar on hanging around campsites, which was weird, since wolves aren’t known to be in the area, but when you work in the field long enough you start to realize anything is possible. No calls had mentioned violent behavior from the animal.
I departed from the station around noon to check out the places where it had been sighted. Wandered around for about three hours (no further calls during that time) until I took a break for water. Sat down, had a snack, drank some water and was getting ready to go again when the thing was about twenty feet out, trotting near the tree line. It seemed friendly and had the collar, so I whistled to it and he came over to me. Getting a closer look, I could see it wasn’t a wolf. It was huge, but it was dark and didn’t have the right body structure, though I could see why it’d be confusing from a distance.
I radioed in and reported that I had the dog with me, but as soon as I said I’d bring it in, the dog took off. Like he was playing, to see how far he could get me to chase him (typical dog behavior.) I went after it, and I swear it was a game of chase for at least five minutes as we steadily ran through the forest. (Don’t go running through woods unless you know the area like the back of your hand.) The dog finally slowed down near a rock bed/creek area, and started pacing around a spot. I drew closer and didn’t see anything off at first, then I noticed it — the overgrowth had almost disguised what appeared to be bones. I called it in immediately, and another team was sent to recover the remains. When I went to retrieve the dog, he was just gone. But.. honestly, it wasn’t a priority at that point. He was friendly enough, and I figured we’d catch up with him later.
The bones were identified as a teenage male’s, died by a self-inflicted wound to the head. He’d been reported missing in the area long before I became a ranger, and there’d been pretty much no hope of finding him.
His mom called to thank me personally and she asked how I’d found her son. I mentioned the black dog, then thought I’d said something wrong because there was a pause on her side of the line. After I gave a couple details about the dog, she quietly explained that her son, who struggled with making connections, had sunken into a deep depression after the death of his best friend - the very dog that’d led me to him.
I think I spent the rest of the day stunned. I continue to be in disbelief, in a way. But I know what happened."
"Every camp we have what we call a 'night game,' which is usually a scary game in which the kids have to complete several tasks while the leaders scare the living daylights out of them. We masked up as monsters and hid out in the woods close to the checkpoints they had to pass.
While running in between checkpoints I found an open stretch of forest with little to no foliage so it was ideal for chasing after them. There was no real room to hide besides behind trees so I couldn't use my flashlight or they'd be able to see me from miles away. It was dark, like the unsettling kind of dark that plays tricks on your eyes and you start imagining things that aren't real. During my stay there I saw a shadow that was around my size running past me a few times, I couldn't see it very well so I just assumed I was imagining things because nothing was there when I turned my flashlight on.
The game was nearing it's end and I saw the shadow again. This time I could see it vaguely standing near a tree not too far away from me. I thought it was one of the other leaders hiding to scare kids and decided to go over there as it was about time to go back. I aimed my flashlight towards the tree and while getting closer I noticed that there was indeed someone standing there dressed in what looked like a torn burlap sack and had their head covered with a few white plastic bags that looked like they were tied together. I started to feel pure dread. Something felt really off. I asked if everything was ok but they didn't respond. The only thing I heard was this weird sound that sounded like someone knocking on wood. Nevertheless I went a bit closer until I was about 10 meters away from this person. The knocking sound turned out to be that person smacking his head repeatedly into the tree and I noticed he looked like a male. He was barefoot and his arms and legs were covered with crusted mud, his hands were in a weird cramped position. I was convinced this was just one of the other leaders pulling a prank so I told them to knock it off. He slowly turned his head and started walking towards me.
Something inside me just told me to run, it didn't matter if it was a just a stupid prank and I ran away scared for nothing. If this wasn't a prank it felt like I was in serious danger so I ran as fast as I could. I heard him running after me but I didn't want to turn around to look as I'd probably run into a tree.
I arrived back at the camp site and every single person that could be dressed like that was already there, they couldn't have gotten there before me and if they did they sure as heck didn't have the time to change into their regular clothes. Still, I told them and that they gave me a good scare with that. They just looked weird at me, thinking I was trying to scare them and we left it at that.
Next day I wanted to go check it out, who knows maybe some weirdo ate the wrong mushroom and might be out there dying from hypothermia. I took someone else with me just in case and there was nothing but endless trees. We arrived at the tree were I saw the person banging his head and there was a dead, skinned, decomposing rabbit nailed to the tree. We called the cops, they looked around quickly and brushed it off as just a prank from another scouting group or some kids from the nearby town and left it at that. We didn't notice anything weird after that so it probably was a dumb prank, but seriously some people have a messed up sense of humor."
"My friend was gathering illegally placed wildlife cameras and knocking down hunting stands, feeders, and blinds with another ranger. The other ranger wasn't feeling well so he said he was going to head back as it was a 1 hour ATV ride. Friend finished up the last one when he heard voices. (He was far off the beaten path, so this was odd) He called out and no one replied. As it was getting dark he started to head back and found that his ATV wouldn't start. He then noticed that the battery was not connected anymore. He reconnected it and started to drive but it wasn't going fast at all. Less than a half mile later the whole thing died.
He radioed back basically saying "Hey guys, I need someone to come pick me up". They told him they would but it would be an hour. He asked if the other guy got back and they said no.
He settled down and started a small fire but before long he heard voices again. It's dark. He's not happy. The voices sound like an argument now. Someone was angry and yelling at someone else who sounded more scared. He called out and asked if anyone needed help. The voices didn't seem to care. He guessed they had to be less than 1000 feet away. He radioed again and they said they were having trouble finding what path he might be on and haven't left yet. He asked them just to get the other ranger to tell them about where they are because he left with the iPad (that had the map). They said he still isn't back.
About 3 more minutes go by and he hears the voices start up again. He decides to walk to them hoping they have a map. He walked in their direction but the voices seemed to be getting further as he got closer. Finally after 20 minutes he gave up and walked back.
He got a radio call and they said the other guy was found passed out covered in vomit and was being taken to the hospital but he crossed off everywhere they found a stand so they have a general idea where he is.
Then the radio died.
Then the voices came back.
Bored out of his mind he decided to listen to what they were arguing about picking up things like 'Well it wasn't yours to take' 'I don't care' 'You knew better' and so on. His guess was two hunters arguing over a kill. Then he heard the one shout something intelligible, then silence, then,
He doused his fire and hid, but after that he heard nothing. Just his breathing for the next half hour until he saw ATV lights. He told the guy picking him up everything and they called back. They had people looking for 3 hours and found nothing. They came back the next day with police and dogs.
After about an hour a shallow grave was found and in it was a long dead man who had clearly been shot in the face. Thing was, it was a skeleton who was there for years.
So either the argument he heard just ended with a bang and both parties went home last night, or he heard the murder of someone from years ago."
"My cousin is with the forest service in the Montana/Wyoming area and I decided to go up there with her to literally test the waters. She does hydrology and has to ride out to the middle of nowhere to test streams and snow runoff to ensure no contaminants, so I thought that sounded fun and wanted to do a bit of a tour with her. We were going to have to camp out there for 2 nights, so we packed up all our gear in saddlebags or saddlebundles and started out.
The first day and night was amazing. Beautiful scenery and amazing air quality. It really is so peaceful out there. I love that area and wish I got to go up there more often.
Anyway, we started out on the second day and my cousin said, 'You want to see something weird?' Of course I said yes, so she led me on a bit of a side journey into this tiny little ravine. We ended up traveling about 2 hours away from our actual path we had laid out.
At the very end of this fold in the land, she dismounts and tells me to get off my horse, too. We tie them up in this gorgeous little clearing and she tells me to follow this tiny wildlife path and bring our little rechargeable radio. It is one of those you can plug in or wind up, and it also acts as a lantern if you really need it to, but that kills the batteries quickly.
I do and, out in the middle of nowhere, there is a huge coil of wire sticking out of the ground. The wire itself was not weirdly large, like some buried transmission wire, but small, like 10 or 12 gauge wiring for a house. It trailed off into the brush and trees, so naturally I decided to follow it out of curiosity.
My cousin trails behind me as I do, and this wire, after coming straight up from the ground, is strung across limbs of trees then back to the ground, then it snakes around rocks and finally deadends into an outlet. That outlet is mounted on the side of a desk. It looks like a schoolteachers desk from when I was growing up, with a metal base and a pseudo wood/plastic top thing. No chair, no building, no nothing, just this outlet and this desk.
I am staring confused at this desk in the middle of a forest when my cousin takes the radio, pulls out the cord, and plugs it into the outlet. It up and started blaring static.
The wire was being fed from somewhere. Now, the place where we were had no road access, no buildings for many miles, and no other people around. And yet, there was a live outlet.
Weird as heck.
No spooky jumpscares or bodies, just one, lone powered desk in the middle of the woods. I wish I had taken a picture of it."
"In 2016 my boyfriend (now husband) and I went camping in eastern Pennsylvania. The place we decided to stop for the night was primitive. Camping was free, no cell service, barely a road, etc. We did encounter two other people. They might not factor into what happened later at all but they were creepy.
The first was a woman who had her truck off to the side of the road a little as we drove past. She had the hood open and seemed to be waiting for someone to stop and offer to help. Usually my boyfriend had no problem helping someone but he said his time something about her put him off. She didn’t really seem like she needed help and usually people who need help look at you hopefully as you approach. She looked like she just expected we would stop. That’s what my boyfriend said anyway, I hadn’t really noticed anything that strange about her.
The next person came when we had chosen a spot and were setting up a fire for hotdogs. I had noticed people drive by a few times but my boyfriend pointed out each time was the same car and the man in the car watched us each time he passed. My boyfriend was a little uneasy about this but we had driven around for awhile before finding a place we liked. It had been raining and everything was muddy and we wanted the driest site possible. He could have been doing the same thing. We briefly thought about moving but the road was muddy too. If he wanted to find us all he had to do was follow the tracks. There were some other tracks but not many. He’d only have to backtrack a little to locate us again. He didn’t come by another time so we stayed and spent the several remaining hours before dark goofing off. No one else drove by.
Whether or not those two had anything else to do with our experience, the real fear came later. We had gone to sleep in our tent and sometime around 3 AM we were awoken by this very loud noise. I can’t describe it very well or even remember exactly what it sounded like but my boyfriend said it reminded him of a chain weapon revving up. It was also similar to how it would sound if someone recorded a shovel being dragged over gravel and played it over a loudspeaker is another way he described it.
He jumped up and looked out the little window but couldn’t really see anything. The sound repeated itself another few times. I was too scared to speak so my boyfriend whispered that it was probably miles off and I should go back to sleep. I didn’t question this as I figured loud sounds could be easily heard miles off. After we left he told me it sounded like it had actually been coming from just down the road but he didn’t want to freak me out. Looking back I probably should have wondered why he would bother to whisper if apparently the sound was far off.
I was still terrified. Every little thing I heard outside sounded like someone was walking around the tent. We laid there for awhile longer when finally my boyfriend told me to get dressed because we were leaving. I got got alarmed by this and even more alarmed when he unwrapped the sharp weapon we had bought just for this trip from it’s plastic before opening the tent. We quickly packed up and loaded the car. I looked around for footprints that weren’t our own, but despite the moon providing plenty of light I couldn’t really see. I did point out something my boyfriend hadn’t noticed though before we got into the car. There was a can of Bud by our dead fire that wasn't there before. We didn’t even bring Bud.
While we were driving away my boyfriend explained that he was nervous someone might have been trying to lure us out, so he didn’t think it was a good idea to run from the tent right away. He also half expected to find our gas tank had been siphoned out, but that wouldn’t have stopped us because we had a hybrid car. We joked that that would make a funny hybrid commercial. Number of brutal murders avoided by driving a hybrid: 2. We only joked because we were about pooping ourselves from fear and adrenaline even then.
The rest of our trip we only stayed in well populated camp sites or got a hotel."
"I was the lone recreation ranger in a small district in southern Idaho. Nearest town from guard station was about an 1.5 hours away by car.
After moving in to the guard station, solar power was not working, and I hadn't slept for about a month due to various factors. The woods there always had an eerie feeling to them.
About two months into the seasonal job, I started to hear something walking and scratching on the deck at night...perhaps even on the door. Now this district was known for its badgers and beavers...so I didn't think much of it. When leaving the cabin at night, I always had an eerie feeling like I was being watched.
One night, I was returning from my grocery run (always went on Tuesday nights), and I had a bad feeling. At the time, I did not have my weapon in the vehicle.
After stepping out of the vehicle, I looked to the right of the cabin, about 50 feet from my front door. All I could see were two eyes about 3.5-4 ft in the air. To say I freaked out was an understatement.
I started yelling "Get out of here" but the eyes only crouched down, and inched closer. At this point I could tell it was a large animal of some kind, definitely not a coyote.
I tossed a piece of firewood in the general area and the creature leaped back a bit but did not make a sound. Tossed four or five more pieces and creature still inched forward. At this point I fumbled with the keys, of course the solar power was out again. I managed to get inside and grabbed my weapon.
Went outside, creature was bit closer. Still could not get a good look with my terrible headlamp. Loaded weapon and continued to throw pieces of wood with one hand. Finally the creature walked back into the brush.
That night, I drank about four IPA's and slept with my weapon next to me. In the morning, trail crew came up and we found mountain lion tracks all over the porch, rocking bench, and compound leading back to the creek.
After that event, I always heard the rocking chair move and someone or something walking on the porch, but never found any tracks after that point. Considering that it was always muddy up there it was weird to not find any tracks. I've been stalked by mountain lions before and never had that eerie feeling like I did in those woods."
"In 2010 I had just finished a wilderness leadership class and decided to go to Colorado to get some solo wilderness time. I found out about some hot springs near the Colorado River that were only accessible during the winter and decided to go spend a few weeks out there. It was on BLM land and I had about a 4 mile hike from where I parked to where I was camping. The BLM lady who watched the land saw me when I arrived and asked me to just write the date on my windshield every week to let her know I’m still alive out there.
Anyways, it was pretty pleasant out there – but every night I was terrified of the bears. They should be sleeping, but if they aren’t it means they are hungry and I’m for dinner. For this reason I decided to setup camp close to a cliff. It was about 40’ down to the river and I figured, worse case scenario I could jump and then get to the hot springs to prevent hyperthermia. It’s a crazy plan, but once you're out there you realize bear spray is kinda useless inside the tent. So one early morning I hear these loud animal noises outside my tent. They are getting closer and very loud, accompanied by grunting and breathing noises. I was too scared to open my tent, I just froze. And the steps kept getting closer and closer and closer. At this point I could hear it sniffing my tent. I don’t dare move – I just lay there. It starts to move away from my tent but its still out there, and now I hear more than one animal. I finally poke my head out, and it’s a herd of elk! I swear though. It was probably the most scared I’ve ever been out camping."
"I was camping on the West Coast.
I have back problems, so when I camp I sleep in the car. I had the backseat converted to a bench seat and put my sleeping bag there. I cover the car windows for privacy.
Early one morning I hear this rumbling sound. It's loud enough to wake me up. I'm a child of the suburbs and what it really sounds like is when you push a shopping cart across a really rough parking lot - one with a lot of gravel sticking out of the concrete.
Then the car gets bumped - hard. The whole car moved.
I immediately start unzipping the sleeping bag with the inside zipper, but that's not the quickest process. By the time I get free enough to sit up and look there's nothing there.
But some big animal had walked by and I loved to know what makes a rumbling noise like that."
"I was camping in the Everglades. Due to back problems I sleep in the back of my car, and it's a convertible with a cloth top.
I hear something walking on it. I know it's a raccoon and I can tell it's pretty heavy. I'm worried he'll rip through the top. So I push at it to try to get him off.
He leaves, but he comes back. This goes on for a while.
Then it stops, so I try to go to sleep.
It was December, but it was still warm so I had the windows open. I hear something, and when I open my eyes the raccoon is sitting in the driver's seat staring at me over the back of it.
I chase him out.
Still can't sleep, so I go to the bathroom.
Next morning I get up and the wrapper from the loaf of bread that I had stored in the well behind the back seat where the convertible top folds into is lying there empty under a tree.
When I was in the bathroom the raccoon had climbed in and stolen it.
I felt sorry for the raccoon. That was 18 slices of double fiber bread. So 126 grams of fiber in one sitting. I can only imagine what it did to his digestive system."