21 Forest Rangers Reveal Their Strangest Experiences In The Woods

Imposing trees, strange sounds, and a general sense of the wild can lend a forest a bit of eeriness. Odd sightings, weird events, and unexplained happenings are just a few of the things witnessed by forest rangers, camp counselors, and others in the woods.

These scary stories take place all over the world, filled with mythological creatures and other unknown entities as described by Reddit users. The creepy tales here will make you think twice before you go out into the woods. Don't read them after dark!

  • A Strange Man Saved The Dog

    My family used to camp in Algonquin Park in Ontario when I was a kid. We used to do a lot of the day hikes with our dog. The dog was a crazy runner, and would run up and down the trail, back and forth between my parents and my brother and me.

    This one trail ended at a lookout. My brother and I stopped to take in the view, and my dog arrived, seconds later, traveling at full speed. He attempted to apply the brakes, but the momentum carried him right over the edge.

    We freaked out. Our dog had just gone over a cliff, and it was a good 50 or 60 foot drop.

    I ventured over to the edge to look. My dog had somehow landed on the one ledge that sat about 10 feet down.

    Crap. Now what? Any movement, and my dog would fall the rest of the way down. It was a shear face, and no way to get down.

    Out of the blue, from the trail behind, appears a hiker with full hiking gear. Algonquin is not an area known for a lot of climbing, and I've never seen anyone before or since with gear on that trail.

    This guy belayed down, rescued my dog, packed up and left. He didn't even stick around long enough to get his name. To all intents and purposes, he just returned to the trail and vanished.

  • It Might Have Been The Mythical Thunderbird

    Not a camper or ranger, but an archeologist.

    A few years back we were doing a massive survey in the middle of nowhere in the interior of British Columbia. All the crew had gone home and it was just my boss and myself left for a few days to follow up and confirm some coordinates and finish some mapping.

    We head out from the motel an hour or so into the bush, in the middle of nowhere along deactivated logging roads. The closest town is miles and miles away. We hike out to this one area we had found a few weeks previously. For some reason the whole area just felt off.

    So, we get down to business and about 15 minutes after being hunched over mapping, there is this weird deafening "WOMP" sound. Like, I could feel pressure in my ears. I immediately looked at my boss about 20 feet away and he is white as a ghost staring back at me. While standing there, it happens again "WOMP!" ear pressure and chest pressure like I was just squeezed. Chills erupt all over my body and every hair is standing on end. My boss just looks at me and says, "let's go!" We grab all of our stuff and speed hike back to the truck.

    We never discussed it.

    No clue what it was but I have never been so freaked out in my life. 10 years later, I still get the chills.

    Edit: There have been a lot of theories and sounds, but nothing like it. The best I can describe: you know when a large bird or an eagle takes flight? That initial woosh/whomp sounds of the wings pumping in the air? Kind of like that...but you would feel it and it was LOUD!

  • An Invasion Of Coyotes

    I have seen weird lights, heard weird sounds, found weird stuff in the woods before, but the one that sticks out was years ago. I was camping at a friend's property in South Texas. While asleep in my tent, I suddenly wake up in the middle of the night. One of those 'from dead sleep to wide awake in a half-second' things. I can feel something is outside the tent, but I don't want to look. I have considerable camping/hiking experience, so I am not freaking out too much.

    I very slowly unzip the top of the tent door, being as quiet as I can, and look out of the tent. There is scarce light because we were camped under a giant oak tree, so big the branches dip down and connect with the ground before growing back up again. It is a huge tree and there are a lot of shadows and weird shapes.

    Anyway, as my eyes start to adjust I realize there are about 40+ coyotes all milling around the camp sight! Just slowly walking around, sniffing here and there, almost ghost like in their quietness. I slowly zipped the flap back up and laid there for about 30 minutes before I fell back to sleep. In the morning, in the light, you couldn't tell anything had been there. The next night we heard the pack howling for hours in the distance. That was almost freakier than seeing them 10 feet away.

  • Startled By A Small Humanoid Creature

    This happened about eight years ago when I was 21 and working as a camp counselor for Camp Tommy in Fishkill, NY. The place is basically a bunch of cabins in the woods on top of a mountain, each cabin a half-mile apart from the other, so you're pretty isolated in the woods.

    One night at about 1am I was sneaking off to meet my camp GF (you're supposed to stay in your cabins after 10pm) as was usual, and was cutting through some woods to get her to cabin.

    Suddenly I heard rustling in the woods, and stopped to investigate it. There are bears/other animals so I was expecting something like that. This three-foot-tall humanoid type thing suddenly jumps out of the bushes and looks at me. It's too dark for me to make out any of its features, other than it was standing on two feet, had two arms, and basically looked just like a miniature person without any features (just looked solid black, if it had clothes on, I would have been able to notice that).

    I was curious what it was so I started walking towards it and it spooked, bolting back into the woods. I'll never forget how mechanical it looked as it took off running. It's whole body basically shifted 90 degrees (like if someone was doing the robot dance) and it just took off. I have never seen anything on two legs run that quickly, so I was pretty confused about what it was. I'm a pretty fast runner and fit person in general, but this thing was on another level of fast.

    As much as I try to make sense of it, I still to this day have no idea what it was. It was very human, but too short to be a human (three-feet-tall is about accurate) and I don't know how a human could run that fast anyway. I have no idea but it's always bugged me! Maybe one day I will go back to try and find this creature again!

  • Camped In The Vicinity Of A Wendigo Or Bigfoot

    About seven years ago, I was on a backpacking trip with three friends (one a ranger, the rest of us bio/botany nerds) and all four of us saw something we still cannot explain.

    Day One went off without a hitch. It was a bit long and a lot of elevation gain, but nonetheless we set up camp and heated beans and rice under what was one of the clearest summer skies I can remember (this is up in WA, and the night sky from the mountains is just unreal).

    Day TWo was different. All four of us awoke shortly before dusk to a shrill scream. Not super uncommon (most of us are pretty seasoned hikers/campers/backpackers) - the sound of something getting killed is pretty universal. None of us could quite make it out;, if I remember correctly we assumed it was a coyote (that familiar yelp/wail). Anyways, it was pretty close - which is probably why it woke us all up - so we started scoping out a small radius around the campsite.

    We found what looked like somebody had put a bomb in some kind of animal - no evidence of an actual explosive, I'm just trying to give you the same picture I have in my head: a totally indecipherable heap of flesh and fur, probably about the size of a German shepherd (similar fur coloration, too). We discussed how odd it was for a bit, then decided, more or less, "eh what are ya gonna do?" and moved on. Best explanation was something tore into it and bailed, maybe by the sound of us waking up.

    Day Three: "Did you see that?"

    We're winding down from a fairly short day of hiking. Tired from the past two days, I remember us joking about being old farts now and not being able to hustle like we could a few years prior. The sun was just making its way down over the tree line while we busted out the whisky and started boiling a pot of water for more beans/rice. I'll never forget this moment as long as I live. One of crew was just launching into a story about his ex, and it went something like this:

    "Yeah... so she was just about the worst possible kind of-"

    He gets cut off by a loud "pop" - which we all unanimously recognized/described as a tree's last leg snapping before it falls. We're all standing now, scanning the tree line (we're in a small clearing, aside from the single large tree we're next to). A few minutes go by without a sound, nothing, then we start hearing the forest's life make noise again (mostly birds doing their thing).

    We all settle back in, presuming the tree wound up leaning up against another tree instead of hitting the forest floor. It sounds pretty close, but there aren't too many trees we need to be concerned about (ie couldn't reach us if it fell in the middle of the night). Then another wail - like the one we heard on the first night, except more distant. Though I never sense it, one of the crew says "sounded like it came from a cave, like it echoed." So we go looking for a cave in that general direction.

    We search for about 45 minutes before one of us suggests we just head back as we are going to be out of sunlight soon. More importantly, it's starting to get dark and we're a little ways from the safety of our tents. We never find anything like a cave or something that would cause that kind of reverb, or any kind of body.

    Heading back towards the clearing/our campsite from the woods, something catches a friend's eye.

    "Did you see that?"

    He's pointing across the clearing about about 9 o'clock (we're taking a direct path so our campsite is dead ahead at 12). We're all looking in that direction, scanning the tree line.

    "Where? What?"

    "Dude. I'm telling you there was a person RIGHT THERE, just beyond camp."

    He's visibly shaken by it, and it's pretty obvious he isn't fooling around or thought he could be mistaken. We're nowhere near a road or town, and even the nearest trail is miles away. A handful of times I've run into other backpackers in a similar way (people checking out your camp/heading the direction of your fire), so the rest of us had a pretty open "let's go check it out" mentality. But the friend who saw the figure suggests we all take a knee and wait while we hide in the tree line's cover.

    So there we are, kneeling in the brush staring at our own campsite from the other side of the clearing when we all unanimously see a figure start to move against the brush from 9 to 8 to 7 (counter-clockwise). Since we're at effectively 6 o'clock, this becomes increasingly unsettling. I remember noting our ranger buddy readying his rifle, and another friend putting a hand on his knife; we're all feeling the same uneasiness now. I say we saw a figure, but really we could just hear and occasionally see the brush moving in that area.

    Ranger buddy declares it just has to be a bear, the original spotter whispering his argument about it standing like a person. Either way, we decide getting into the clearing and making our presence known was the best choice. We either need to scare off the bear or confront this person. So we all stand up and jog into the clearing shouting "HEY BEAR!" (this is more or less standard procedure, in case you're wondering).

    Nothing happens. Nothing at all. Now we're all standing in the middle of the clearing, somewhere about halfway between our 6 o'clock position and our camp just waiting for something to happen. We're about 20 minutes away from total darkness when there's another wail from 4 o'clock, but our focus is towards 7. I whirl around before realizing one of us was already looking that way, and his face is totally pale. Then I see it too; we all do. There's the silhouette of a tall man leaning over something else, facing away from us and then he clearly rests on one knee before turning to look our way. Our Ranger buddy has his rifle in air.


    He's about to lay into him for hunting, when the figure comes to a full stand (hard to gauge, probably about 6-foot) and then takes-off away from us. And I don't mean like a man scrambling to run away, or a bear bounding off into the brush; this is more like Usain Bolt if he were born and raised in the mountains. Never in my life have I ever seen anything like it, and (I'm almost embarrassed to admit it) my first reaction was ghost.

    After a pretty long wait (and arguing over what it was/what to do), we swing back to camp to grab a few flashlights and our lamp. We make our way over to where the figure was leaning, and it's another mound of flesh. Without getting too detailed, this time some unmistakable fox paws are intermixed. Again, it looks like it was "exploded" open and the meat eaten on the spot, not harvested like a hunter.

    You probably wouldn't be surprised to hear we don't sleep much that night. We make jokes about encountering Sasquatch out there. I've never been a spiritual man (still not), but it's very difficult to shake the inhuman-yet-human supernatural nature of the way it looked and moved. None of us could make out any kind of clothing that would break up its silhouette. Not to mention, I've never personally seen something kill quite like that; the closest thing I've ever seen is a deer carcass post-bear, in a time of year that would have made it very hungry/aggressive (closer to hibernation), which wouldn't have been during our summer hike.

    What gets me is we heard the same shrill wails three times, and the distance between our Day Two site and our Day Three site was close to 10 miles, meaning we were on the same general game trail as it was, or it was following us.

  • The Other Campers Were Beamed Up By Aliens

    We were camping around different area of the US, hitting 13 states. It wasn't a trip with a firm itinerary, and we drove through Amish country in Indiana despairing that we wouldn't find a campground as it was late in the day.

    But in the middle of Amish country we found a lovely campground with a nice big pond for swimming. We were the 'weirdos' who do tent camping, and you had to drive down past this field to the tent camping area. There was a nice forested area and we had it to ourselves.

    Here comes the really odd part. There was another occupied camp site down there, but it looked like the people had been beamed up by aliens. Food was left out, bottles of mustard, mayo, and plates were on and around the picnic table. The one tent was blown over but the other was still firmly staked.

    We mentioned this to the campsite staff. They said "Oh that is the so-and-so's spot." He was supposed to be look after all the tent spots. They had no idea that he wasn't there.

    We wondered if someone was dead in the tents so we cautiously checked. No dead bodies just sleeping bags etc. So Aliens.