Robert Frost wrote that “the woods are lovely, dark, and deep” but he forgot to add “scary as hell.” It seems Bobby Freeze left out the part about the hungry bears, hunting mountain lions, and the scariest of all – randomly appearing strangers. Below we’ve gathered a list of the most frightening forest stories, just don’t read them before heading out for a camping trip.
1. BIRD-ON-BIRD VIOLENCE
We were relaxing in the truck after work one evening maybe a kilometer from a nearby lake. We noticed an osprey (a kind of bird of prey) in the distance, flying toward us, carrying something in its talons. It was really moving fast, and we soon saw why – a fully-grown eagle was chasing it. It was probably a couple hundred feet above us. I was in the back seat, and maybe ten seconds after the eagle passed out of view, a 10-pound fish landed in the middle of our dirt parking lot. Still flopping.
2. THERE ARE SEVERAL TV SHOWS WITH THIS PREMISE
Former park service here. Way out in Alaska waiting for a float plane to pick me and my partner up after a week of slogging through the tundra. Waiting. And waiting. And running out of food. And eating berries. And then the plane landed, 3 days late, because some asshats had blown up a tower in New York.
3. STRAIGHT OUT OF A HORROR MOVIE
I work in the outdoor field and lead trips regularly. I once led a trip to the top of Mt. Sterling in NC. It’s a tough climb to get to the top and about 6 miles from the nearest road. I was leading a group of 8 middle school kids and had one co-instructor. We were camping out on top of the mountain and it was a beautiful night with a full moon. I chose to spend the night in a hammock that night. I turned my headlamp off to settle in for the night. Everything around me was rather bright from the moon and from the position I was in, I could see down the trail we had hiked to get to the top. I laid there enjoying the scenery and noticed something moving on the trail. Bears are common in the area so I perked up. As it got closer, I could tell it was a person. We were in the middle of nowhere and there was someone hiking up the trail with no headlamp or any gear. I was just frozen watching this person move closer to our camp. They arrived at the top of the mountain where we were and just stopped. I watched as what appeared to be a man survey our camp. He stood there for what seemed like thirty minutes. He then turned, sat down under a tree facing our camp. He was sitting up in a way that I knew he wasn’t trying to sleep. He just sat there staring at our camp. I had no idea what to do. I decided to wait it out. I waited, just staring at the man while he stared at my camp. This went on until about 3:30 am. Then, he stood up, took a moment to survey my camp a few minutes longer and then went back down the trail he came up on.
4. GHOSTS ARE THE LEAST OF YOUR WORRIES, APPARENTLY
Around 9am we heard yelling in the bush. Odd. Nobody else should be out here. We keep on grabbing samples and it’s in the back of our mind. Around 11 we hear it again. A little closer this time. We call back but again it’s silent. Now through our travels of this 30 km piece of property we came across many pieces of animal evidence. Deer, moose and rabbit droppings were everywhere. A few carcasses here and there. Bear tracks and bear feces were seen a few times but nothing prepared us for what happened next. Around noon we were in an old blast hole from the 80’s when we hear an earth shattering bone chilling howl. I looked at Dave and he turned so white he was almost green. I unclipped my bear spray safety. Then at our 9 o'clock, facing due west, a wolf appeared. Then another at our 10 then another and another all the way to our 4 o'clock. Dave calmly said, “We need to leave, but you cannot run, if you run you die.” We left most of our sampling stuff there. Longest walk of my entire life. We didn’t say a word. I didn’t hear anything but I’m positive they followed us back to the road and into the truck.
5. THEY BASICALLY LIVED BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
There was a group of teens that hadn’t been heard from after their scheduled return time from a camping trip. A good friend and I know the area very well so one of the search and rescue guys we’re friends with called us in to assist in the search. We’d been hiking for most of the day and saw nothing. We’re about 35km into the woods at this point when we start noticing odd things. Sticks carved like spears stuck into the ground, weird carvings in the trees, a child’s stuffed animal hanging from a noose up in a tree. This place was nowhere near any roads, it wasn’t on the regular trails people would go on in the area. The really eerie thing was that everything was freshly carved. Somebody had been there within a couple of hours of us and made these things. Mind you we’re still looking for these teens. We kept on hiking and eventually made camp for the night. We get up with the sunrise, pack up the gear and get ready to go when I noticed a bit of shirt that had caught on a small tree and ripped along with some shoe prints, we were thinking great maybe we’re close by to the teens when a radio call comes through. The teens had just been found 20km east of us they’re calling everybody back.
6. MORE WEIRD THAN FRIGHTENING
A crazed, drugged up, naked man running around. Took three rangers and myself to catch the damn guy. When we finally caught him, found out he had multiple cuts across his body from running through brush and a rock lodged firmly up his ass.
7. HOW ELSE WOULD YOU MOUNT IT ON A WALL?
Headless deer. Normally when a pack of coyotes take down a deer they leave bite marks all over the body along with torn of flesh everywhere…but the head was cleanly sliced off and placed directly next to the body, meaning this is something created by human intervention. We still haven’t figured that one out yet.
8. PIC OR DIDN’T HAPPEN
According to experts, there are no such things as black mountain lions. One day while out with my dogs hunting deep in the woods of northern Humbolt County, California, My dogs caught a scent and took off ahead of me, before I could call them back they were out of sight and then I heard a horrific screaming sound and my dogs snarling and barking and squealing. By time I got over the hill they had three mountain lions in a tree, a mother and two large cubs. The mother and one the cubs were jet black. One of my dogs had a severely mangled leg and shoulder, and puncture wounds to her neck, so I didn’t stick around to observe, and I sure as hell didn’t think to take any pictures. I scooped up my injured dog, slung her over my shoulders and hiked the three miles back to where I’d left my car and rushed her to the vet. While she was in surgery to amputate her leg, my vet’s husband, who is a forest service worker came in the office. He had heard about the attack and wanted to ask me about the location and details. When I told him about the black mountain lions, he told me that there are no black mountain lions. He refused to believe me and treated me as if I were crazy. Every expert I talked to had the same reaction. I know what I saw, and there are at least two black mountain lions in the world!
9. SO THAT’S WHY THEY CARE SO MUCH ABOUT PROPER TOILET PAPER USE…
Honest to God, I once encountered a bear orgy. It was deep in Rocky Mountain National park about 15 years ago. I was hiking and I came across 5 or 6 black bears just going to town on each other. No one back at the station ever believed me and this was before I had a phone that could take pictures or video. Never seen anything like that since.
10. THAT WOULD BE SLIGHTLY TERRIFYING
My dad and I would occasionally go hunting together when I was a kid. We woke up early one morning and hiked into the woods. It was still dark when we got to our stand. We didn’t see or hear anything. Not even birds. I remember my dad commenting on it and looking back it should have been a sign. Frustrated, we pack up and look for a spot to camp and we would set up again later that evening. We hike a ways away from camp, set up our blind and wait. Again, nothing. We get back and our tent has been pulled up and laid flat. Not in a neat way but it’s just kinda laying there. We thought it was just the wind or something and we didn’t put it up right and it collapsed. We didn’t think much of it. It’s pitch black, middle of the night, I wake up and I’m in that half asleep half awake phase when I hear laughter. I jolt awake but don’t hear it anymore so I figured it was a dream. I lay back down and a few minutes later I hear it again. It continues and gets pretty loud. I wake up again but this time my dad is up too. He whispers and asked, “Did you hear that?” and this is when my heart dropped. He heard the laughing too. It wasn’t a dream. We heard it again but it was faint and now that I’m actually awake I am paying attention to it. It sounded kind of like several people laughing in unison. It wasn’t cackling or hysterical laughter but just kind of normal laughter. I have never felt that much fear before in my entire life. We didn’t hear it anymore after that but needless to say we didn’t get any sleep. We packed up as soon as the sun came up and got the F out.
11. THE BEGINNING OF EVERY HORROR MOVIE
One spring night, two friends and I decide to go fishing. It’s around midnight, we’re going to a place that was once a maintained primitive camping area. This is not a remote location, but it’s not very well known either. As we approach the turnoff for our spot, we see another vehicle slowly turning out of it, and proceeding the way in which we came. We pass them and a friend says how he figured no one else would be around. We get to our spot, get our gear out and begin to prepare. But as we chat, drink a few beers, we all notice an unspoken uneasiness. Something is just not right. I explain to my friends how I feel, that we should leave and I just have a bad feeling. They agree, we load up. While slowly driving through the old campground we notice some brightly glowing embers in an area where no one has been. My friend driving stops without even thinking and goes for a look. He is startled, telling us to come see. What we saw was the remains of 3 crosses, made of wood that would stand about 12 inches if upright. But they had been burned, along with a small campfire. And to make it even worse, all were lying on freshly turned soil, which resembled a freshly dug grave. We freaked, got hell out of there fast. When we approach the exit of the old campground we notice a vehicle parked on the side of the road. We pass it and we all realize, it’s the same car we passed on the way in. There was no one in the car. They had doubled back and were likely watching us.
12. WHY WOULD YOU BELIEVE THIS COMPLETELY?
Wildland firefighter with the forest service. Not my story but from a old supervisor of mine that I believe completely. Setting is 2004, Hell’s Canyon area of middle Idaho. He was working his way down a logging road that clearly had not been used in some time when a bobcat or lynx appeared in the middle of the road. Thing stands there for a good 10 seconds, screams at him, and scampers up a tree not 5 feet off the road. He finds this odd but not particularly unsettling. Just a half mile or so down the road, he finds a small cabin. Also odd, as this is federal land and no private structures should be there. Upon investigation, all the windows had been boarded shut tight and someone had done a good job of doing so. The door knob had been punched out and secured to a hole drilled into the log frame by a chain. Someone did not want anything getting in (or out). This has him kind of unsettled, so he hops on his ATV and heads back up the road. Well, here’s where it gets real interesting. Right where the bobcat had been, there stands a Native American woman, in a badly tattered nightgown and bare feet. Just standing there. He yells at her, asking if she needs help. She just screamed at him, the same scream as the cat from before, and climbs right up the same tree, faster than any human has a right to be climbing. Obviously, he gets out of there as fast as he can.