Located near Siler City in the forest of Chatham County, NC, the notorious Devil's Tramping Ground is a circle of barren earth that has inspired fearful myths and frightening legends spanning generations. Believed to be the preferred place for the Lord of Darkness to walk alone and contemplate humanity's demise, stories of the evil energies surrounding the lifeless clearing reach back hundreds of years.
While rumors of the Devil's role in the location's origin have persisted for generations, modern times have brought more modern theories to the table. Some believe the ground was cursed by the bloodshed of a Native American conflict, while others think the patch is the result of extraterrestrial UFO radiation. More grounded theories propose the earth remains barren as the result of unusually high levels of salt in the soil. Whatever the theory, plenty of people have added to the area's mythology in recent years. Here's a look at some creepy stories and legends about the Devil's Tramping Ground that might have you rethinking your camping plans.
The Devil's Tramping Ground got its name from its lack of living vegetation within a clearly defined circle. According to the Encyclopedia of North Carolina, "Normal vegetation surrounds the circle, but only a wiry grass grows inside it, and no plant life of any kind can be found on the path itself."
Additionally, "Locals have been unsuccessful in trying to transplant the wiry grass to other soils," and any living vegetation intentionally planted within the Devil's Tramping Ground withers soon after.
As dictated by local legend, any foreign object placed inside the circle - and especially within the barren, foot-wide path that encompasses it - will disappear from the area by the next day.
A similar claim is presented by the website North Carolina Ghosts: If an object is left in the circle before dusk, it will be aggressively moved outside of the circle by dawn.
Even people are allegedly ejected from the clearing in the night. According to a legend shared by Tumblr user al-the-stuff-i-like, "Boy scout troops have tried camping on it, and woken up in their tents a few miles away. Some guys tried to stay up all night in a tent on the spot, and later reported that a soft, soothing melodic voice lulled them to sleep and they too woke up a few miles away."
The barren circle and the desolate path that surrounds it are often attributed to the Devil himself, who allegedly walks the circle at night, plotting and scheming. The Coloradoan interviewed locals for insight into the infamous area, explaining, "Legend has it, the circle is the Devil's playground. Believers say every night when the clock strikes 12, he comes up one path and stomps around in a circle - [eliminating] all growth and life - before going back down a second path."
North Carolina Ghosts, a site devoted to all the local legends of the Tar Heel State, shares:
In his Tramping Ground, The Devil spends his nights pacing around and around in a circle and turning his bitter mind towards ways to bring human souls to damnation. It's the scorching heat of his cloven hoofprints that [withers] the vegetation and has rendered the soil barren. He angrily brushes aside anything left in his path, his great strength easily able to toss aside even the heaviest objects.
According to locals, hunting dogs and pets refuse to cross the circle's path, and many reportedly bark, growl, snarl, and bare their teeth in the direction of the clearing. According to North Carolina Ghosts, dogs whimper when they near the circle. Other animals will dig their heels into the sand and refuse to be brought into the circle's bounds.