10 Appalachian Cryptids That Echo In The Hills With Ancient Mysteries

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Vote up the creepiest cryptid tales.

The Appalachia is a sprawling expanse of precarious mountains, captivating forests, and an undeniable sense of magic. But nestled within this beautiful landscape are shadows filled with secrets and whispers of spirits and bizarre creatures. This region seems to exist in a perpetual embrace with the unknown and exudes a palpable air of mystery that lingers like the morning mist on its rugged peaks.

If you ever find yourself wandering through the woods or the rich collection of small towns that have transcended time, you might be told stories of restless spirits or hear an unearthly screeching deep in the heart of the forest. But remember, if you think you see or hear something, no, you didn't.

From the legendary Mothman to the enigmatic Sheepsquatch, the Appalachia is a treasure trove of tales that defy explanation. Here, the line between truth and lore becomes blurred, and one can't help but wonder whether the landscape gives birth to such folk tales or if the creatures really do walk the land.

Let's jump into the untamed beauty of Appalachia and unveil the stories of the cryptids who may call this region home. 

  • 1
    164 VOTES

    The Not Deer Appears At First To Be A Deer But Then Something Much Creepier

    Unlike its well-defined brethren like the Mothman or the Jersey Devil, the Not Deer is an elusive creature that initially appears as something it's not. Hailing from the foothills of the Appalachia Mountains, this cryptid mimics the appearance of a deer, but the more people observe it, the more they realize something isn't quite right. The proportions may suddenly seem off, or maybe the animal has more joints than it should have. 

    Some witnesses say the Not Deer moves like a newly born fawn, while others say it awkwardly jerks forward, twitching its body in odd angles. The most defining and unsettling feature is that its eyes don't sit on the side of its head but rather on the front, like a predator.

    Unlike regular deer, the Not Deer doesn't appear to be afraid of humans, choosing to make prolonged eye contact instead of fleeing into the brush. Witnesses feel an unsettling sense of dread in their presence, and although there have been no reports of attacks, they often perceive the creature as a threat.

    Not much is known about the Not Deer, but their origins are sometimes linked to shapeshifting Skinwalkers of Navajo folklore. Others say it's connected to Wendigos. Whatever the origin, if you see a deer while traveling through the Appalachia, it's probably best to keep on driving. 

    164 votes
  • 2
    170 VOTES

    The Grafton Monster Is Said To Look Like A Cross Between A Hairless Bigfoot And A Troll

    There's a monster prowling the dense woods of Grafton, WV. Journalist Robert Cockrell was the first to encounter the creature during a late-night drive home.

    Cockrell couldn't comprehend what he was looking at when his headlights illuminated a monster standing on the road, but he described it as a cross between Bigfoot and a troll. He fled the scene in fear, but when he returned with two friends, the grass where the creature stood had been trampled by something of considerable weight.

    Dubbed the Grafton Monster, the lumbering humanoid cryptid is said to stand more than 7 feet tall and weigh up to 900 pounds. A large hunchback often makes it appear headless and its skin has a slick, sea-like appearance. 

    Cockrell's account of the Grafton Monster led to widespread search parties sweeping the wilderness, but while many people came back with stories of their own sightings, no one was able to bring back evidence of its existence. Proof or not, the Grafton Monster has become a local legend in the area, and tourists still wander the woods hoping for their own encounter.

    170 votes
  • 3
    160 VOTES

    The Flatwoods Monster Caused A US Air Force UFO Inquiry

    Nestled within the rugged landscape of West Virginia's Braxton County, seven eyewitnesses and a scared dog had an otherworldly encounter that still can't be explained today.

    The story goes that in 1952, a group of children playing football saw a bright object streak across the sky before crashing close to a nearby farm. After calling for one of their mothers and being joined by several other children, the group headed toward the object to see what had fallen. What they saw changed their lives forever.

    Described as a Frankenstein-like monster, all seven witnesses reported it was 10 to 12 feet tall, with a green face, red body, and claws instead of hands. Its eyes glowed as it floated towards them, emitting a sickening metallic order as it drew closer. When others returned to the site to investigate, only a foul order and two large skid marks remained.

    The ordeal was so bizarre that it prompted Project Blue Book - an initiative launched by the US Air Force to study unidentified flying objects - to dispatch investigators to look into the incident and interview witnesses. Even with the US Air Force looking for answers, the Flatwoods Monster was never seen again, making it one of the most puzzling enigmas in the village's history. 

    160 votes
  • 4
    137 VOTES

    Raven Mockers Are Said To Feed On The Hearts Of Dying People

    Rooted in Cherokee folklore, the Raven Mocker is an evil spirit that takes the hearts of the dying to preserve its own life. They typically appear as old, whithered men and women in human form, using the stolen lives of their victims to prolong their time on Earth, but they can also turn invisible, only to be seen by the dying and the medicine men who hunt them.

    It's said that when someone is sick or dying, the Raven Mocker takes to the air in a fiery form with flaming sparks trailing behind as they fly. With outstretched arms, they glide through the sky, creating the sound of rushing winds and an unearthly cry like a raven. Those familiar with the Raven Mocker bunker down in their homes, knowing the sounds warn of death or loss.

    Unless a medicine man is present to drive away the spirit, the Raven Mocker enters the home unseen to everyone but their victim. They then torture their victim, tormenting both body and mind, before consuming the heart without leaving a mark. Families know the Raven Mocker came to claim their loved ones because they are said to be missing their hearts. 

    137 votes
  • 5
    116 VOTES

    Sheepsquatch Is Said To Have Ram-Like Horns And Smell Like Sulfur

    In 1994, Ed Rollins was hunting Mothman and UFOs in West Virginia's dense wilderness when he came to rest at a creek. Although initially discouraged by not finding evidence of either on his hunt, Rollins was about to have an encounter with something far more elusive. As Rollins reviewed tips given to him by a UFO investigation group, a bizarre creature walked out of the brush to drink from the water. Rollins didn't have a camera, but he spent several minutes observing the beast before it returned to the woods. Later that year, two children saw the same creature while playing in their yard in Boone County. There would be several more sightings of whatever Rollins saw along the Morgan's Ridge mountain range before the public realized what they were dealing with: Sheepsquatch.

    First sighted in the area by a coal miner in 1929, Sheepsquatch is reported as a quadruped beast that's roughly the same size as a bear. It's comfortable walking on two or four legs and is usually identified by its shaggy, wool-life white hair. With the face of a dog, paws of a raccoon, and two horns similar to a goat, it's one of the more unusual creatures making themselves home in the region. 

    If the looks don't get to you, the smell certainly will. Sheepsquatch is said to reek of sulfur. Some attribute the smell to it originating from the TNT Area of Mason County, which is home to empty coal mines and abandoned TNT bunkers from World War II, while others say it's because of its connection to weasel-like animals with musky odors. 

    116 votes
  • 6
    115 VOTES

    Wampus Cat

    Deep in the wilderness of southern Appalachia, a fearsome creature is rumored to walk the land. Rarely seen, its eerie cries reverberate through the night air, striking fear into the heart of anyone who hears them. Emerging from the depths of American folklore, the Wampus Cat traces back to Cherokee folklore, whose stories spoke of a woman who donned the hide of a mountain lion to spy on a male-only ceremonial dance. She was caught and cursed to inhabit the creature's skin forever. 

    The origin story has twisted over time, including more European-leaning tales of witches and shape-shifters who prowl the forest at night. With mixed folklore, it's not surprising that descriptions of the cryptid vary. Usually a hybrid of a mountain lion and a woman, some stories include additional animal features like wings or tails, while others take out any traces of humanity in its appearance. The eyes allegedly glow red or yellow, and witnesses have reported it to run erect and on all fours. Considering its feline-like features, Wampus Cats are known for their agility and stealth, which is likely why they are rarely seen but so often heard. 

    Like the mountain lions of the West Coast, their spine-chilling screams and strings of missing wildlife are the biggest indicators that they moved into an area. In 1918, the Wampus made headlines in The Greeneville Sun when the newspaper blamed the creature for the deaths of dogs, pigs, and other animals in the area. Skeptics were quick to denounce the sighting as misidentified large cats, but considering mountain lions have been geographically extirpated from Tennessee by the early 1900s, it's more likely it was something else that was picking off family pets. 

    115 votes