The great outdoors is full of beauty and surprises. But sometimes, hikers come across things that are hard to explain. Our collection of scary hiking stories shares tales from real people who’ve had strange and spooky experiences while exploring nature.
From seeing mysterious shadows to finding trails that change unexpectedly, these stories show that there’s more to nature than meets the eye. So, if you’re curious about the mysteries that some hikers have faced, keep reading and get ready for some spine-tingling tales!
Vanished In The Night
One of my first camping experiences was almost my last. It was a relatively isolated campsite, far enough away from civilization to have no phone reception.
But we surprisingly weren’t the only ones there. There was a huge group of people set up nearby across multiple campsites. They were a noisy group, while we spent our days hiking to nearby waterfalls.
On our second night, it was already dark and they looked to be in no hurry to finish partying that night as we settled in for the night, hoping they wouldn’t keep us up all night with their rowdiness.
Suddenly it went silent, like someone had turned off the switch on a radio.
We were both trying to listen for noise, a little shocked by the sudden quiet but no more noise came. Just about ready to fall asleep, we were startled again by a torchlight shining directly at our tent.
We both froze, wondering why someone would be walking so close to our tent when it was a fair distance from the other sites. And the light was dancing all around erratically. Next thing we knew, our tent entrance collapsed and the light was gone.
We waited around 10 minutes in a quiet panic, assuming someone was messing with us, then finally pushed our way through the collapsed entrance to see what the situation was.
Shining our torch around, we realized there was not a single tent or trailer left in sight. They’d all just disappeared suddenly, after dark… without a sound. No engine noises. Nothing.
You can bet we didn’t sleep much that night!
The next morning we took a closer look around and it was like they had never been there. No obvious sign of the multiple tents, caravans, and cars that had lined the far side of the camping ground.
Especially when they showed no signs they were planning to pack up before dark that night. Nor will we ever know if they intentionally knocked down the front of our tent that night before ‘silently’ vanishing into the night.
Chased by Midnight Shadows
It was 1am, and I found myself 14 hours deep into a grueling 100km trail race along the desolate cliffs of the Jurassic Coast, UK. Exhaustion had taken its toll, and I was desperately craving sleep.
Completely alone, I wandered deliriously through the pitch-black night, my feeble head torch casting only a small, flickering light ahead. In that eerie silence, a sudden noise shattered the stillness.
My heart raced, and I snapped to full alertness. Panicking, I scanned the darkness, and there, in the distance, I saw it – twenty pairs of eyes, glinting like malevolent stars. They drew nearer, and my primal fight-or-flight instinct surged within me.
I screamed, terror, gripping my very soul, and I bolted as if the hounds of hell were on my heels. I raced across the treacherous cliff, the relentless pursuit of those unknown eyes driving me forward, the abyss to my side a cruel reminder of the danger.
I dared not glance back, fearing what lurked in the darkness. Finally, a gate appeared in the distance, a beacon of hope. I sprinted through it and slammed it shut.
It was then that I realized they were just cows, innocent creatures, but in that terrifying moment, they had transformed into monstrous pursuers in the dead of night.
Mysterious Footprints at Echo Peak
While on a solo trek to Echo Peak, a remote mountain in the Appalachians, I was excited to experience the solitude and pristine beauty of nature.
The trail was challenging, with steep inclines and rocky terrains.
As I neared the summit, I noticed something peculiar: a set of footprints in the snow that seemed to come out of nowhere and lead towards the edge of a cliff.
The footprints were fresh, and what was even more baffling was that they were of bare feet. No other tracks, no signs of any equipment, just a lone set of footprints leading to the cliff’s edge and stopping abruptly.
I cautiously approached the edge, half-expecting to see someone, but there was nothing—just a sheer drop and a panoramic view of the valley below.
I scanned the area, looking for any other signs of human presence, but found none. The eerie silence of the peak, combined with the mystery of the footprints, sent a chill down my spine.
I hurried back down, feeling uneasy and frequently checking behind me.
Upon returning, I shared my experience with the local ranger station. They were equally baffled and mentioned that no one had reported any missing persons or unusual activities.
The footprints at Echo Peak remain a mystery, a silent testament to the unknown stories the mountains hold.
By Alex C. via email
Abandoned Echoes in the Colorado Wilderness
Once, I went on a multi-day backpacking trip in the Colorado wilderness with my boyfriend. Our first day on the trail was picturesque and peaceful.
An hour into our second day on the trail – at least 10 miles from the parking lot – I needed to “use the facilities.”
I climbed a steep hill adjacent to the trail that looked semi-flat. When I had dipped out of sight of my boyfriend, I was shocked to find that the area contained the remains of an entire campsite.
There was a tent that had collapsed from the center, sleeping bags, backpacks, and assorted camping gear like gas canisters and rope. It had been there at least one winter.
I immediately feared for the hikers and whatever strange fate might have befallen them. Why would they abandon their entire campsite, backpacks and all? Where did they go?
And if they weren’t experienced backpackers, how did they end up here, at a dispersed campsite in a remote wilderness area in Colorado?
After returning to Denver, I reported the incident to the Forest Service. I tried to describe where the site had been, but it was pretty remote. The agent told me that people sometimes just abandon their campsites when they don’t feel like carrying their gear back to their car.
I suppose it’s possible they just brought out all of that gear to camp and then hiked back without it… but it seems like such a strange thing to do.
I’ll probably never know if that’s what actually happened to those campers in Colorado.
The Disappearing Path of Pine Ridge
When I moved to a small town nestled in the Rockies, I was eager to explore the local trails. Pine Ridge was a popular one, known for its breathtaking views and challenging terrain.
One sunny morning, I set out alone, armed with a map and my Salomon hiking boots. The trail began innocuously enough, winding through a dense pine forest.
The scent of fresh pine and the chirping of birds created a serene atmosphere.
As I ventured deeper, I came across a fork in the path. The left seemed well-trodden, while the right was overgrown and less defined. Trusting my adventurous spirit, I chose the path less taken.
However, as I progressed, the trail became increasingly narrow and indistinct. The trees seemed to close in around me, and the once-clear path was now littered with fallen branches and thick underbrush. I checked my map, but this offshoot wasn’t marked.
Determined, I pressed on, hoping the trail would clear up. But it didn’t. Instead, it ended abruptly at a sheer cliff drop, overlooking a deep canyon.
Confused, I retraced my steps, but to my horror, the path I had come from had vanished. The forest seemed to shift, and landmarks I remembered were nowhere in sight.
Panic set in. How had I lost my way on a well-known trail? Hours felt like days as I tried to find my way back, the sun’s position my only guide.
Eventually, I stumbled upon the main trail and made my way back, exhausted and shaken. Locals later told me that many had been led astray on Pine Ridge, with the forest’s layout seeming to change inexplicably.
Some believe it’s the land’s way of testing its visitors, while others think it’s just easy to get disoriented in the dense woods.
Whatever the reason, I now tread with caution, respecting the unpredictable nature of Pine Ridge.
By Alina G. via email