Hikers Share the Most Terrifying Things They've Experienced in the Wild | 22 Words

Ever wondered how many things really do go 'bump' in the night? Well, there's no better place to find out than the great outdoors! You never know what you might encounter out there, especially out in the woods away from civilization. There are wild animals for sure; bears, cougars, and much more. But more often than not, the scariest animal out there is the homo sapiens. Because people do some messed up things.

So keep reading and maybe save a few of these stories to tell around the next campfire gathering you attend. If you're a fan of scary stories, you don't need fiction to get goosebumps. Real-life experiences are the ultimate scary stories to tell in the dark.

Anything can happen in the woods...

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 fourth 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. -jhfk

And it wasn't a few overly-curious bears.

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. -jhfk

The reality was much creepier.

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 campsite. 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 real shame.


Here's a camping trip with a terrifying turn.

via: Getty

Not hiking so much as car camping, but we were way 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. -tall__guy

They made this horrifying discovery:

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 became 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. -tall__guy

But the memory is lasting.

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. -tall__guy

Wild animal encounters are always a possibility.

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 11 pm to roughly 5 am. 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.


Here's a whole towns' worth of creepy.

via: Getty

I go hiking in the woods that permeate my town, sometimes so late that I get to see the sunrise 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 firepit that someone had made out of an old tire, with the fire still burning. But that wasn't the weird part.


This detail will give you chills.

The weird part was that this was well past 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. -Cyanora

This story is utterly terrifying.

via: Getty

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 1:30 am, and it started off as a normal walk. I wandered around the town until about 2:00 am 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.


Listen to your instincts!

And low and 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. -SleepyElie

Luckily, this guy was quick on his feet.

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 f**k 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. Edit: Because this is like the most asked question, yes I am a guy. Also told to put in here that I was 15 when it happened. -SleepyElie

Here's an Australian hiking story:

Not super scary but was camping with a few buddies once pretty far out in a sort of sand dune type terrain in Australia. The plan was to just hike to a good spot we knew well and get drunk. We got to the spot and pitched tents and were chilling, our spot is on top of a really high dune because the view from the top was just mesmerizing with the ocean and wilderness. -wee_g

This incident could've turned fatal!

Anyways we just got the campfire started and out of nowhere this Jeep just comes flying over the lip of this hill right next to us and almost crushes a few friends of mine and one of the tents, like I said this sand dune is really high up so I have no idea how they managed to get up it at the speed they did. They slammed the brakes and no one can get a look at them as the windows were tinted and sped off over the dunes. That was more chaotic and random but the creepy part was about an hour later I went off to do a piss in a bush nearby and was looking down the hill and just saw a figure staring up at me, friend of mine came behind me to piss in a bush next to me and scared the sh*t out of me.


And turns out, that spot was REALLY sketchy.

When I pointed the figure out to my mate it just took off over a lip of a hill. Definitely a night I won't forget and I don't think I've returned to that spot since. EDIT: I should have added all this was at night time. EDIT 2: Cannot believe I missed out this part, but this occurred around 3 years ago and about two months ago human remains were found right next to our spot, scary sh*t goes on in those dunes I tell you. -wee_g

A lot has happened in the Appalachian mountains.

via: Getty

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 a 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.

-walkingmonster -

What a haunting sound...

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. 


Again, instincts can tell you a lot.

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. -walkingmonster

And thinking about what could have been is even more haunting.

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 powerful.

I have never felt a shred of guilt about leaving that guy crying out in the woods in the dark. 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.


It came out of nowhere...

Not on a trail but walking my dog late at night...

It was about 1:00 in the morning, my dog rang her bell and I begrudgingly got up to take her outside. When she wants to pee in the middle of the night I don’t take her very far, just in our side yard. I took a flashlight with me in case she decided to poo so I could pick it up.

I’m standing there waiting for her to do her thing, she is doing the doggie walk in a circle thing. Then all of a sudden the dog gets spooked and whips around. Out of the corner of my eye, I see this chick just standing there. I didn’t see her walk up, I didn’t hear her walk up, I just see her standing there super still. Based on her position, she had to have come from between my house and my neighbor's house. Which is odd, because behind our houses back up to a green belt.


SO many red flags here.

It is probably 40 degrees outside and this lady, about 20, is in super short shorts and a t-shirt. I looked at her, told her she scared me, and she mumbled something like, “nice night, what are you up to?" Standing there holding the leash with my dog, I said, “I’m walking my dog..." then she said, “cool, cool... do you know how to get into my house, I locked myself out." Pointing to my neighbor's house...

Now, I’m a good American, I know my neighbors, and this wasn’t my neighbor, who is a single 30-year-old female. She hangs out with my wife, so I know her really well. So I asked her, “that house?" Pointing directly at my neighbor's house. She nodded. I said, “you don’t live there... I know who lives there." She just scoffed and wandered her way into MY back yard. I followed her said, “what the hell are you doing?" 


...And then the creepy person is good at parkour.

She then took off running, scaled my fence... which item of note, it isn’t an easy fence to scale. It is a deer fence. It is a see-through fence that goes up 3 feet with cattle gate, then the top of the fence is a stainless steel wire that runs horizontally. It is the type of thing that, if you weren’t expecting it, you’d easily trip over as it is extremely hard to see and not very common. Anyways, she scales the fence and ran away into the green belt.

I always have a pocket knife on me and was fortunate enough to have my, unfortunately, useless dog.... so I looked around my house, neighbors house for other people... shined my light in the green belt... and nothing. I have no idea how she wound up back there. What she was doing. What she intended to do... but she scared the ever living crap out of me.


This story has a HORRIFYING twist.

One night my friend and I decided to hike to the top of this small mountain at night for a meteor shower. There were 4 of us, all around 16 at the time, and thought it would be cool. We drove over and started hiking. We took a break about halfway when we noticed there was a guy following us...in a business suit? -Codarar63

First off, wrong hiking attire.

We were weirded out so we decided to start back up and walk a bit faster. But by the next time we stopped he was like 10 feet away so we bit the bullet to see if he’d just walk by. He didn’t. He stopped and asked if we were there for the meteor shower and if he could walk with us. Weird a 30 something-year-old man in a suit wanting to hike with four 16-year-olds but whatever. As we were walking my friend and I notice he was walking really close to our friend (the only girl in the group) like he could smell her shampoo close. We got to the top, sat down, and he sat down almost right up on our friend. -Codarar63

And then the truth comes out.

With her reasonably freaked out I made an excuse on why we have to leave early and we promptly booked it the f**k out of there. Nearly running the entire way down. When we got back to the car we thought “cool we ditched the weirdo". But no. When we were all in the car our my friend pointed out that this guy is FULL-ON SPRINTING down the trail and towards our car with a large stick. Being in a car we just drove out of there very shook up. We chalked it up to the dude on some drug but 2 days later we all got a text linking us to a news report about a guy that had strangled his wife and then proceeded to kill another girl later that night on a hiking trail. It. Was. The. Guy. The same dude at the same hiking trail. We never told our parents about the incident and never went back there. EVER. -Codarar63

There are mysterious noises and then there's this:

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 trailblaze through the forest right next to the lake because if you went far enough there was a really pretty waterfall. A few strange things happen 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". -PlantBasedSpaghetti

Who said that?

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. -PlantBasedSpaghetti

Here's a Scottish hike gone wrong.

via: Getty

When I was very little, like five or six, my dad used to take me on all sorts of adventures through nature, especially when we owned a little cottage up in the Scottish highlands. Now, my dad is sort of a combo Irish bloke + Yorkshire laddy type of fellow and very spry (despite his being about 55 at the time), and on this particular occasion had decided we were going to go hiking way up into the cliffs (I was quite happy with this development as it meant a piggyback ride for at least 90% of the difficult bits.)

This was a proper, proper trek, he wanted to get to one of the highest bluffs so we could have an amazing 360-degree view of the gorgeous meadows and some sparkling sea, but after we reached the top plains, where it's all short, wind-whipped grass and you can see for miles, he suddenly turned very still and very quiet.


The father got really spooked.

When you're small, your parents are God so seeing your Dad look frightened is scarier than anything your own mind can come up with, so I was pulling on his arm and going, "what, what?" - my mum is epileptic and I saw her fits when I was a kid so I thought it was happening to him too, or something similar, and I wouldn't know what to do because we're up on this huge cliff and no one is around, when just as fast as he started it, he snapped out of it, fireman lifted me right up and just started striding away without a word.

Over his shoulder, I could see a big, pale yellow object stuck into the ground like an obelisk. I know now that it was a refrigerator.


And what's the significance?

When I was older and I asked my Dad about it, he stiffened up and told me that when he was a boy in the 50s, he and his little friends had found an old style fridge in the woods, and being little boys, they opened it.

Well, of course, they had found a body - another child, who by whichever means had found themselves in the fridge and unable to get out. My Dad has never mentioned a gender which leads me to believe he either witnessed a very decomposed or skeletonized individual, but I can't ask him.

Remember that episode of the Simpsons where they unlock Homer's PTSD and it turns out he found a dead body when he was a teenager? My dad grew increasingly uncomfortable the first time we saw that episode and had excused himself to the kitchen before the ending. my Dad has seen some gnarly stuff but for whatever the reason he will not discuss anything further about this dead child in the fridge, only that it happened.


Sometimes your past comes back to haunt you.

So when he explained, I assumed it was the trauma and I said something like, "oh Dad, that's awful - so when you saw the fridge up there, it brang up the old memories?" and he honestly looked at me with his big blue eyes like I was an idiot, I'll never forget it.

"No, Amy," he said in a very low tone, "it was because it was the same fridge."


This sound wasn't lions, tigers, OR bears. Oh my.

I was walking around my neighborhood alone once, enjoying the night air and watching the stars. there was this little pond near my house, with a wooded area that had trees, a bench and a rope swing that went out over the water. I sat down on the bench to look at the stars and I heard some rustling off to my right, towards the trees. Bears were not uncommon where I'm from, so I took out my flashlight and shone it around over there. I didn't see anything. It freaked me out, so I kept my flashlight on and my senses aware, but I stayed on the bench to mull over my thoughts and watch the sky some more. I don't know why I did that, cause that's typical horror movie stuff. -strawberry_myork

But it's better to know, rather than assume.

Anyway, a few minutes pass and I hear nothing more, so I lean back into the bench and start to relax a bit. I'm staring up at the sky with my flashlight pointed downwards, so as not to create any light pollution, when I notice something in the tree in my peripheral vision. I couldn't tell what it was but the branch was swaying slightly, and the rustling noise was back too. I immediately sat up and stared at it, but hadn't shone my flashlight at it yet in case of pissing off some huge bird or something else. I don't think I've ever been that scared. I remember my heart was beating so fast and I could taste blood. I stared at it for what seemed like forever, and it slowly stopped moving. But the shape was still there. Bears do climb trees sometimes, so I was hesitant to run away in case that's what it was. So I just kept staring at it. -strawberry_myork

Of course, the truth can be worse than you were imagining.

After a while, I mustered up the little raisin-esque kahooneys to shine my goddamned light at the tree. it was a man. A f**king man. In the tree. Crouched in the tree like some silent, naked monkey. He had no expression on his face but his eyes were open really, really wide.

When my light landed on him he started to move like he was going to come down, but I didn't stick around to see if he did, I jumped the bench and ran for the hills. I ran to my house and around to the back door and locked myself in without looking back once. I went around and made sure every window and door was locked, I even checked the attic.

I never go out alone anymore.

Short and simple, but this is a bad sign for any hikers to notice:

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

Choose your "lovers' lane" wisely.

It was around midnight in a clearing for picnics in a large park that lots of people hike through, pitch black, no one around, I was with my boyfriend at the time, we got pretty frisky at one of the picnic tables, and I’m facing a river which is sort of illuminated from the moonlight, he’s facing the solid black tree line, we’re trying to have a good time and he becomes completely still and in a low voice says ‘there’s a man coming towards us.’ I turn my head, see only a white T-shirt approaching us at a brisk walking pace from the trees. He said nothing just walked very fast towards us. And that’s all I needed to see, I ran, knowing my bf would catch up. He did. I was never down for midnight forest stuff again. Haha. -malibubuddtattoos-

This is the story of "The Smiling Man."

About five years ago I lived downtown in a major city in the US. I've always been a night person, so I would often find myself bored after my roommate, who was decidedly not a night person, went to sleep. To pass the time, I used to go for long walks and spend the time thinking.

I spent four years like that, walking alone at night, and never once had a reason to feel afraid. I always used to joke with my roommate that even the drug dealers in the city were polite. But all of that changed in just a few minutes of one evening.

It was a Wednesday, somewhere between one and two in the morning, and I was walking near a police patrolled park quite a ways from my apartment. It was a quiet night, even for a weeknight, with very little traffic and almost no one on foot. The park, as it was most nights, was completely empty.


Ever seen someone walk like this?

I turned down a short side street in order to loop back to my apartment when I first noticed him. At the far end of the street, on my side, was the silhouette of a man, dancing. It was a strange dance, similar to a waltz, but he finished each "box" with an odd forward stride. I guess you could say he was dance-walking, headed straight for me.

Deciding he was probably drunk, I stepped as close as I could to the road to give him the majority of the sidewalk to pass me by. The closer he got, the more I realized how gracefully he was moving. He was very tall and lanky and wearing an old suit. He danced closer still until I could make out his face. His eyes were open wide and wild, head tilted back slightly, looking off at the sky. His mouth was formed in a painfully wide cartoon of a smile.

Between the eyes and the smile, I decided to cross the street before he danced any closer.


Next, there was a pause...

I took my eyes off of him to cross the empty street. As I reached the other side, I glanced back... and then stopped dead in my tracks. He had stopped dancing and was standing with one foot in the street, perfectly parallel to me. He was facing me but still looking skyward. Smile still wide on his lips.

I was completely and utterly unnerved by this. I started walking again but kept my eyes on the man. He didn't move.


...Before the real horror kicks in.

Once I had put about half a block between us, I turned away from him for a moment to watch the sidewalk in front of me. The street and sidewalk ahead of me were completely empty.

Still unnerved, I looked back to where he had been standing to find him gone. For the briefest of moments, I felt relieved, until I noticed him. He had crossed the street and was now slightly crouched down. I couldn't tell for sure due to the distance and the shadows, but I was certain he was facing me. I had looked away from him for no more than 10 seconds, so it was clear that he had moved fast.

I was so shocked that I stood there for some time, staring at him. And then he started moving toward me again. He took giant, exaggerated tiptoed steps as if he were a cartoon character sneaking up on someone. Except he was moving very, very quickly.


"Frozen in horror" isn't great for survival, but it's understandable!

I'd like to say at this point I ran away or pulled out my pepper spray or my cellphone or anything at all, but I didn't. I just stood there, completely frozen as the smiling man crept toward me.

And then he stopped again, about a car length away from me. Still smiling his smile, still looking to the sky.



When I finally found my voice, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. What I meant to ask was, "What the f**k do you want?!" in an angry, commanding tone. What came out was a whimper, "What the fuu…?"

Regardless of whether or not humans can smell fear, they can certainly hear it. I heard it in my own voice, and that only made me more afraid. But he didn't react to it at all. He just stood there, smiling.


And then, this happens:

And then, after what felt like forever, he turned around, very slowly, and started dance-walking away. Just like that. Not wanting to turn my back to him again, I just watched him go, until he was far enough away to almost be out of sight.

And then I realized something. He wasn't moving away anymore, nor was he dancing. I watched in horror as the distant shape of him grew larger and larger. He was coming back my way. And this time he was running.

I ran too.


Here's the chilling conclusion:

I ran until I was off of the side road and back onto a better lit road with sparse traffic. Looking behind me then, he was nowhere to be found. The rest of the way home, I kept glancing over my shoulder, always expecting to see his stupid smile, but he was never there.

I lived in that city for six months after that night, and I never went out for another walk. There was something about his face that always haunted me. He didn't look drunk, he didn't look high. He looked completely and utterly insane. And that's a very, very scary thing to see.


Yeah, I definitely have goosebumps now.

People see some things outside that they would truly never expect. Share these crazy, incredible stories with your friends -- or save them to share on a dark night and blow even the creepiest ghost stories out of the water!