Hikers Share The Creepiest Things That Happened To Them While On The Trail

What is it about forests that make them so potentially creepy? Oh yeah, it's all the creepy stuff that's happened to people while trekking through the wilderness. 

We hope these Reddit stories won't discourage you from taking your next camping trip. But maybe you should bring that extra can of bear spray you were thinking of buying after all.

[Sources listed at the end of the article.]

My friends and I found the words "Per audacia ad ignotum" drawn in the snow in the absolute middle of nowhere, yet no footprints around them. 

The words were probably a few hours old. The closest translation we could find was: "Through audacity towards the unknown."


Took my young children to a cave not far from the house. Popular spot, but we had the place to ourselves. You can walk through it in about 30 minutes without too much difficulty. It has a tiny exit at the opposite end. It was pretty muddy, so we decided to turn around and head back to the entrance. 

Halfway back, there was a lit candle sitting about eight feet up one side. It was definitely not there on the first trip. I went into full-on protective dad mode knowing there was likely someone hiding in the dark while we walked the rest of the way out.


I was fortunate enough to do a through-hike of the Appalachian Trail with my sister in 2012. We stopped by this guy's house known as the "Ice Cream Man" right on the trail. We were both curious and a little scared to know the mystery of who this guy was. 

An elderly man with thick glasses appears at the doorway. He shows us inside and gives me and my sister an orange cream popsicle. He then goes to his bedroom to grab something, and just when my sister and I are creeped out and preparing to escape, he comes back with "Where the Wild Things Are" and starts reading it to us as we sit at his kitchen table. Weirdness level: 7.3/10.

I found out later that the guy's name is Bill Ackerly, and he sadly passed away in 2016. Turns out he was just a super nice guy who lived in the mountains and gave ice cream to hikers. 


I was backpacking in Yellowstone National Park, above the tree line at about 10,500 feet. My buddies and I are hiking on a ridge above a lake when all the sudden we come across a horse skull. No body just the skull, pretty cool looking. 

We get to our campsite not too far away from the lake near where we found the horse skull. When we climb down to the lake we find the skeleton of the horse laying on the edge of the lake, with celluloid film strips floating in the water and laying around the shore near the skeleton.


This woman hiker in her 70s somehow passed by us through what must have been a wormhole in time, since she said hello to us in reverse order. The first time we saw her she said, "oh, well hello again!"

I just shrugged it off, thinking she might have been slightly senile and her memory was playing tricks on her. Then 30 minutes later, we saw her again and this time she just said "hi" as she passed us. The weirdest thing is, I'm not even sure how she got there... she was going the opposite direction of us on the trail both times.


My dad and I were hiking in Nevada and we came across this tiny ghost town called Ione. It was on the other end of a huge valley outside of Austin, Nevada, behind a mountain.

We drove in and the city sign said "Ione, Nevada. The town that refused to die!"... it was pretty ironic because we never found any sign of life. The whole place wasn't creepy, just interesting, and it had a really historical vibe to it. Looking back I guess it's a pretty cool little pioneer town.


When out exploring an old abandoned quarry with some friends we found this dude who was standing staring at this rock, occasionally twitching, never turning around. We were pretty creeped out so didn't investigate, and left pretty soon after. 

Later on that night we found out that another friend was driving down the lane that runs parallel to the quarry and nearly ran over a guy in a black coat who was standing in the middle of the road, and wouldn't move. She was pretty freaked out and had to reverse all the way back up the lane in the dark because he was still there. Pretty sure it was the same guy, otherwise it was just a big coincidence.


I was backpacking in New Hampshire and camped out for the night after a day hike. I wandered off from our fire to go relieve myself and stumbled upon a circle etched into the ground. 

There were tuning forks surrounding the circle, standing up straight... It looked like a creepy ritual circle and it bugged me out so I just booked it back to the group. Never found out what it was.


I was hiking in the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington back in '03. I was trying to do this really snazzy hike from the Pacific Ocean all the way to Mt. Olympus.

Day 1 is a blast, get everything accomplished. Day 2, I'm hit by fog. Fog as thick as anything you can imagine. I can't get a decent GPS fix, but I know if I follow the Hoh river upstream, I'll get to one of the campsites I'm going for. Eventually, I get to a fairly big clearing and set up my tent as it starts going to the darkest black night I've ever experienced. I'm seriously a bit unnerved at the whole thing...not scared as much as just...anxious.

About 2 in the morning, I start hearing this huffing noise. Like Darth Vader without the helmet on. My imagination starts to go freaky, and I reach for my flashlight. I pull the drawstring on the tent a little...very quietly...and poke my head out. Still dark as death. I hear the noise coming from maybe, MAYBE five feet to my right.

I poke my flashlight out and turn it on. I'm a few feet away from a MASSIVE Roosevelt Elk, who'd lost his way in the dark as well. He sees the flashlight, bolts the other way, tags a tree and knocks himself clean out. I laid in the tent until I heard a groan, a bunch of commotion and the big guy finally grunt away.


Been waiting years for this question.

Hiking alone at dusk doing a five mile loop in the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles. I see another lone hiker approaching from the opposite direction. As he gets closer, I suddenly realize I know this person: It's the guy who played Jame Gumb, aka Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. We get within three feet of each other. He looks at me. He sees the lightning bolt of recognition hit my face. His sad and resigned expression back said it all: "Yes, I'm him. No, I'm not really a serial killer."

I walked briskly by him anyway and didn't look back until I was a good 100 yards down the trail.


Bushwalking in New South Wales, Australia, my friend and I came across this weird platform-looking thing made out of rocks. We didn't think anything of it at the time. 

Later that year, the cops arrested a man who was eventually convicted of the murders of a series of backpackers who had gone missing over the course of a few years. At the sites of several of the murders, slightly off in the bushes, were these 'altars.' A current affairs show ran a story about one of the murders and yeah, it's that platform-looking thing we found. At that point we called the police to report it... never found out whether they found a body at our campsite. Who knows, maybe we were supposed to be the bodies but we didn't stay long enough. 


I was out fossil hunting under a waterfall in Minneapolis after a thunderstorm the night before. I figured the storm would have uncovered some good stuff down in the stream-bed. 

I was digging around the wash when I happened upon a life-size copper mask. Its two eyes were peeking out from the muddy bank. It was very creepy looking. I wondered what it was; it could have been someone's art project, or could have been taken off a statue, or could be something else entirely. I brought it to the Science Museum of Minnesota for analysis. The curator emailed me back about a week later: "As you had expected, perhaps someone's art project. Still, what an interesting find while out collecting fossils!"


One time I was out hiking in the back woods with a buddy of mine. Waaaaaaay out there with nobody in sight. In the evening I start to gather some wood for a campfire that evening, and I pull this stick out of the trees. The stick is maybe 5 ft long, 3 inches wide, and it looks like a nice walking stick, straight and mostly smooth... Then I notice that one end of the stick is REALLY smooth, like it's been whittled by someone. I'm thinking, oh wow what are the odds of that, someone has carved a smooth handle on one end! 

NOPE It's not a handle. It's a penis. Someone had carved the end of this stick into a penis. And not just any penis, but a work of art. The person had put HOURS into carving it, with love and feeling. It was truly impressive.


I lived in a national park by myself for three months. Several times when I was going back to my trailer for the day, I would hear music like a music box or an ice cream truck. It was always loud and sounded like it was coming from somewhere over my head. 

One day I decided to look for the source so I followed the dirt road past my trailer. The music continued, I couldn't tell if I was getting closer or not. I had my eyes on the trees and looked down just in time to avoid stepping on a snake. I scrambled back but it didn't move. I realized it was dead and it wasn't alone, there were half a dozen dead copperheads stretched out in the road, looking in the same direction.

I went back to get my car because I couldn't bring myself to step over them, but by the time I got my keys, the music had stopped and I didn't hear it again.

Sometime after this happened, my friends told me there was a haunted prison in the same park. So, that was good to know.


I found a old Super 8 camera up on Springer mountain in Georgia. My mom had an old projector so we played the film. 

It turned out to be a couple going at it inside an anthill.


I found a cage. Not like a trapping cage or anything but something that could easily hold 5-10 average sized people.

I was hiking in the mountains just above the house I lived in at the time, in Missoula, Montana. It took maybe 45 minutes of walking, mostly uphill and without a path, to get to the spot. There were round steel bars for the edges, and rope instead of chain link for the walls and ceiling. It was all set up just on the far side of the ridge line I was walking on, so it couldn't be seen I suppose.

Nothing around it, no foot prints or tire tracks or anything. The rope looked undamaged as well. No idea what it was for but it definitely creeped me out.


It was about 2 am when I was woken up by a low snorting noise. I was only about 14 or 15 so it really freaked me out, and it being right outside my tent really scared me. 

Turns out it was a bunch of wild boars, just sniffing around our campsite for food.


I was on a "geocaching" hike deep in the New Mexico wilderness. I entered a clearing and saw a series of half-built/crumbling concrete structures, as well as a dirt road approaching from the opposite direction of my hike. Footprints and some recent trash indicated people were still using the site. The whole thing seemed somehow post-apocalyptic and eerie. I was hiking alone, and for some reason the whole situation was freaking me out a bit. I decided to abort the hike and back out the way I hiked in.

I found out later the site was used as a paintball tournament ground and designed on an urban warfare theme. There was absolutely no evidence of spent balls or paint on the concrete walls, which explains my confusion and the eeriness of finding half-destroyed buildings in the middle of nowhere.


I woke up to a bear licking my face, his head poking inside my tent.

I screamed, he screamed. We both ran out of the tent in opposite directions.


I'm... not a hiker, exactly. I enjoy nature, and I've had occasion to spend large amounts of time in it.

I think the strangest thing I found was a small gap in the trees that had women's undergarments strewn all over the place. I have no idea what happened there.


I once met a very elderly nudist hiker named "Lefty." No shoes. No flip flops. Just his pack, a hat, and a pair of trekking poles. I ran into him while I was day-hiking one of rockiest, nasty sections of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. He was super friendly, very talkative, and completely ignored any and all questions about his lack of clothing. We walked together while he talked on and on for a few miles before I turned back and he carried on.

So "Lefty," if you're still out on the trails: stay weird.


I was hiking in the northern part of Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia. Found a boulder in an inlet on an island with a large crack in it. There was a skeleton cemented into the crack that was slightly exposed. 

Locals later told me that "Ol' Wiley" ran the store on the island 150 years ago, pissed off some gamblers, and ended up dead in the rock. Store hasn't existed since. I sent some thoughts his way.


I had an experience about a year and a half ago in Colorado. I was hiking up a steep ridge line and my friend suddenly grabbed me and put a finger up over his mouth, signifying for me to be silent. I looked over to the left of the trail and about 50 yards away, there was a large, white wolf. We stood still for about 5 minutes while it walked away in the opposite direction.


One time as a kid my family was staying in a canvas cabin. In the middle of the night, I hear a rustling sound, open my eyes and see the shadow of a massive, five-foot spider on the wall. 

Just as I'm about to freak out that there's a giant spider outside, I remembered I had a flashlight lying on the floor as a nightlight. It was casting a large ring of light against the wall, and a daddy-long-legs walked in front of it.


Camping one night, I was awakened by two owls hooting in nearby trees. The location of the sounds kept changing, so I could tell they were changing perches every few minutes.

After a while I heard a flutter of large wings and an utterly ear-piercing scream. I went outside and discovered that one of them had apparently pounced upon a rabbit. They were cornering prey as a team.


One day I was hiking with my girlfriend up a mountain outside the town we lived in at the time, and we ran into a man walking the other way, carrying a couple bags. I nodded and said hello, as I think one should do when they pass someone in the woods. He mumbled something and scurried on by.

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

Turns out, the guy we passed had just robbed one of the town's banks. 


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