Forests can provide a tranquil escape from the day-to-day responsibilities of life. With scenic views, fresh air and wildlife, this same sanctuary that puts one at ease ran wreak havoc if you trail off the beaten path. If you’re a skeptic, then this list of forests will be nothing more than a fun thrill, but for the faint of mind, tread at your own risk.
1.Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina
(Norton Creek Trail)
Perhaps the creepiest trail in the Smoky Mountains, Norton Creek Trail leads up to old cemeteries surrounding Lake Fontana—up to 200 cemeteries to be exact. The Cherokee living in the area at the time used to tell the story of Spearfinger to their children to prevent them from wandering off into the woods. Spearfinger was an old witch living in the mountains with one long finger made of stone as sharp as a knife. She would disguise herself as an old grandmother and lure kids into the woods, cutting out their livers with her stone finger. Modern tales recount of an old settler who was killed along the shore of the lake searching for his lost daughter. Today, many hikers lost along the trail claim that a light helped lead them out of the woods and into safety, said to be that of the old man and his lantern.
2. Gettysburg National Battlefield, Pennsylvania
If you venture beyond Michaux State Forest and the three state parks surrounding the Gettysburg Battlefield, you’ll come across the old battlegrounds of the goriest battle of the Civil War, where more than 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or went missing. It’s no surprise that it would also be one of the most active paranormal spots in the world. The Devil’s Den—a piling of boulders— has a reputation for apparition activity and odd occurrences. The most common sighting is that of a barefoot man with a floppy hat and rugged clothing, commonly stating to visitors, “What you are looking for is over there.” It’s said to have been haunted even before the war, adding to the chills and thrills of the historic landmark.
3. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Tucked away within the forests and hills in Southwest Kentucky lies Mammoth Cave National Park—home to the longest cave in the world. This underground cave system encompasses more than 365 miles of winding, dark passages beneath the Earth. Many of the areas in the caverns are blocked off to the public. It’s hard to say if the unusual occurrences are supernatural activity, or natural phenomena that occur inside caves, such as sounds and shadows. The original discoverers of the cave believed it should be a burial ground and that by burying the dead in the caves, spirits could transition to the place they would rest in the afterlife. One tale states that old spirits laid to rest never found their way to the afterlife and tantalize tourists visiting the cave. Another says early explorers became lost within the caves and died searching for their way out. There have been multiple accounts by both visitors and park rangers of unusual events happening in the caves.
4. New Jersey Pinelands
The “Jersey Devil,” formerly known as the “Leeds Devil” is the most common tale coming out of the Jersey Pinelands, said to live in the marshes in Southern New Jersey. Folklore of the eerie creature dates back to the 1700s when a woman by the name of Deborah Leeds discovered she was pregnant with her 13th child. She was so upset by the news she cursed the child, stating it was the devil himself. When she delivered, the horrifying creature flew up the chimney and into the woods. The creature is said to live along Batona Trail, and thousands have reported seeing the Jersey Devil or hearing his screams. In addition to the Jersey Devil, there are numerous other spirits that call the Pinelands their home, including the ghosts of James Still—a Black doctor who was lynched during the time of slavery— Captain Kidd, and a small boy killed in a hit and run.
5. Old House Woods, Virginia
Locals in the area often refer to Old House Woods as one of the most haunted places in the state. Numerous legends circulate around the woods regarding treasures buried within it. One tells of a pirate ship whose pirates buried their treasures in the woods on the banks of Whites Creek while they set out to find more. Another myth tells the story of King Charles II sending chests of treasure to Jamestown from England in case he had to flee the country following the Battle of Worcester. Rumor has it the crew went up the wrong creek and ended up at Whites Creek where they were attacked by bandits. People have reported paranormal activity coming from the woods including a white floating mist, odd scents, unusual sounds and ghostly figures.
6. Freetown State Forest, Massachusetts
Freetown State Forest conveniently lies within the “Bridgewater Triangle”—an area of 200 miles claimed to be the site of paranormal phenomena ranging from UFOs to ghosts to balls of fires. The forest has seen its fair share of unexplainable activity. The land used to belong to the Pocasset Wampanoag Tribe before being taken by colonists. The Natives believe there are creatures resembling trolls called Pukwedgies that live in the forest and cause mayhem. The Pukwedgies are two to three feet tall and intentionally startle people, throw rocks at them, push them and even kidnap them. Local Natives in the area have long warned not to mess with the Pukwedgies. While the story may seem far-fetched, numerous visitors have claimed to witness such creatures in the forest. It would also explain the cause of the unusual number of deaths that resulted from people falling from cliffs. In addition to the Pukwedgies the forest is overtaken by a dark power. A deep rock quarry known as “The Ledge” his home to an unusual amount of abandoned cars and suicides. There are numerous other sites within Freetown State Forest sharing similar, unexplainable accounts.
7. Devils Tramping Ground, North Carolina
The Devils Tramping Ground is a camping spot tucked away inside a forest off of a county road near Harpers Crossroads, North Carolina. The ground is a barren 15 foot ring in the forest where nothing grows except for “wire grass” and animals refuse to cross the path. Legend has it that the devil cleared this space to tramp and haunt at night while plotting human destruction. In the morning, he turns into a crow or other animal set out with devious plans. The unusual lifeless circle within the forest is eerie on its own, but what makes this site even more unique are the odd events that take place. Any object placed in the circle is said to be thrown out by morning. People who have slept overnight in the Devils Tramping Ground are said to have woken the following morning in a different location of the forest. Dogs bark mercilessly as they approach the path. As for the lifeless soil, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture once took a sample of the soil and determined that the area was completely sterile.
Catch up on Spooky Cemetery Trees for more thrills!