Throughout history forests have always been places of wonder, mystery, and dark legends. These are places that have long attracted to them stories of the strange and mysterious, and they are also places often portrayed as menacing, always with the feeling that something could be lurking past the branches and brush. For a long time now there have been numerous cases of mysterious vanishings tied to forests, many of which have never been solved, and we are often left to ask what has happened. Yet what if it is the forest itself that has taken them through some means, and what if it is these places and their remote wildernesses that somehow pull people in to never return? There are certainly reports that seem to suggest this, and here we will look at cases in which people seem to have been drawn in to these wild places, only to somehow manage to escape with strange stories to tell.
Our first report of something insidious and hungry in the woods comes from Reddit user “Starlove36918,” who says this very bizarre experience actually happened to her mother when she was just a 15-year-old girl. At the time she apparently lived in a village in an isolated wooded, mountainous area, and she would often go out with her own mother or other kids to go collect wood. On this day she woke early as usual to a clear and sunny day for one such wood-fetching errand along with a group of other girls from the village. Yet, this excursion would turn out to be more ominous than most. The poster says of her mother’s experience:
She said she was woken up by her mother and was told to get ready to go get the woods. She got up, dressed up and went outside of her home. The girls were waiting for her at her front door. Together they went toward the mountains. She said when they were going up the mountains, everything was usual girls would sing make jokes and stuff. As she was following the girls on a trail up to the mountain, her skirt has cough up by the bush. When she stopped to get her skirt free, she said that she woke up. There were no girls, she was alone at the mountain in the middle of the night by herself. She said that she didn’t remember anything until after she woke up at her parents’ house. A shepherd man found her fainted and carried her back to her parents’ house. She lost her ability to talk for a while she said because of the trauma. She said that all her hair fell out. I’m not sure, maybe because of the trauma? This story always scared me.
Just what was going on here? Another report comes from a Reddit user called “Lola_likes_to_run,” and seems to involve some sort of forest spirits such as fairies. In fact, she says that the area where she lived had several locations that the locals called “fairy fields,” which they avoided and where people apparently got lost in places that it was impossible to get lost in. The witness claims that it was said that this was due to the fairies sowing confusion into the minds of their victims. She says she never really believed any of it growing up, but that one odd experience would change her mind, of which she explains:
I am a fairly sceptical atheist, and I don't believe in this sort of stuff at all, but something kind of odd happened to my brother and I when we were younger. We were taking a short cut through the woods and fields near our home. We were about 2-3 fields from our house when it happened. We got lost. When I say we got lost, I mean we couldn't find our way out of the field. It wasn't that big, but we spent over an hour walking around and around the perimeter without finding a way out. We were starting to get a bit freaked out (my bro at this point had put on his jumper turned inside out as prescribed for these matters in the local folklore), when we finally saw it, a large, wide open gateway that wasn't even closed or obscured by overgrown bushes or brambles. Still don't have any idea how we possibly did not find it in five minutes.
Was there some sinister force out there intentionally trying to confuse them and get them lost or keep them in, and what would have happened to them if they had not found their way out? Who knows? Similarly, we have the case of Redditor “clayvn,” who says this happened when he was 10 or 11 years old out at Big Bear Lake, California. At the time he had been visiting his grandparents, who lived in a cabin at the lake, and it was a place he says he went to several times a year. He explains that the surrounding forest had always been unsettling to him, with the constant feeling of someone or something watching him from the trees. Nevertheless, he often went hiking out there with his dad and uncle, and on this day they were on a trail they had hiked countless times before. They all knew the area extremely well, yet something odd was about to transpire. The witness explains:
Anyways, me, my dad, and my uncle were walking on a trail that we've been on hundreds of times before, when we reach the first peak of the hill that we usually like to stop and look out at the view from. My dad and uncle wanted to keep hiking for a bit, but I decided I to go back to the cabin on my own, as it was only 5-10 minutes away. I head down the usual path that I go on not thinking too much about it when I realize that I have no idea where I am. Everything looked the same as usual but something was wrong. The normal path was different in a way I can't really explain. It seemed to be 10x as long as usual, everything was silent, and there was absolutely no wildlife around me not even a squirrel. I kept having all of these morbid thoughts coming into my head about how I was lost forever, or how some sort of creature was going to swoop me up.
Every ten minutes or so I'd end up at a part of the trail that I definitely recognized, only to be in a completely alien area moments later. The path kept winding and winding downhill, and the sun was setting pretty rapidly. I had to have been walking in the direction of the cabin for more than an hour because I remember I kept checking my watch and panicking. At this point I just accepted that I was lost. I finally made it down to the street and was relieved to be able to orient myself, but It was only 1 street away from the cabin, although I should've been much further away. I was expecting my father and uncle to be home by now and for my parents to be worried about me being gone so long but instead my mom asked me why I came back so soon. I asked my dad how long they were out as well and they said they only walked maybe 15 minutes longer from when I left them.
From poster “RavenMysteries1331” there is a similar report, in that it seems that something was trying to lure them into another place and make sure they could not return. She says that she had gone camping with her husband to a place she calls “Deep Creek Campgrounds,” and one day as they were exploring the area they came to a secluded road and tunnel. They entered the tunnel planning to simply walk through to the other side, but a series of strange events would make that easier said than done. The witness says of all of this:
We go through the tunnel. This is where it all gets a bit weird. What should have been MAYBE a 10-minute walk turns into 30. We’re not really panicking but were still not out of this damned tunnel. We’re filming and realizing the time stamp on the camera keep changing, the phone is fairly useless but keeps showing weird times, notifications etc. Finally, we reach the end and I decide there’s no way I’m going back through. Here’s our second mistake. There’s a trail going across the tunnel. My husband wants to go back through then meet us while I and our daughter go over the top to wait. At the top the trail ends, which is unusual but not a big deal as I can see the trail we came up and my husband will be coming up shortly.
I take pictures, full panoramas, everything. Never out of sight of the trail. Husband shows up and we start looking around for the next trail or any trail, never going more than 150 feet in any direction solo while one of us stands near the trail. We decide we can’t find it, well head back down the trail. The trail that is now not where it was. But that’s okay because I took pictures of some unusual trees and things so ill use them as a marker. I open the pictures, all of them are time stamped wrong, the images are different. The entire skyline 100 feet away, mountains etc, is completely different. And now we start to get worried. We look for nearly three hours, how to get down, how to find the trail back, nothing. Finally, we realize were fairly screwed and start planning what we’re going to do. At which point the glitchy phone gets a phone call and we realize it works. We call 911 who puts us through to a Ranger Rescue team. They find us maybe an hour later, mere feet from a trail, and 1 entire mile from the tunnel... At this point we go on our merry way and decide we will never hike again.
What in the world happened to them? Did they pass into some vortex perhaps, wandering over the threshold of some invisible veil to something else? Making it all the more ominous is that the witness claims that she later found that the area of Deep Creek Campground had over the years been the location of several unexplained vanishing. Was there a connection between this and what happened to her? Also featuring some sort of similarly insidious presence is the report on the Missing 411 forum from Reddit poster “that_g-eye,” and takes place in the wilds of Ontario, Canada. He says he grew up in a rural, rugged area or Southern Ontario, and knew the local woods very well from a young age. One summer he decided to go out exploring a stretch of woods he had been to hundreds of times before and knew very well, but on this day he says that he began to have the distinct feeling of being watched.
As he walked on this turned into a feeling of dread and the sense that he was not supposed to be there. At the same time, the previously bright day seemed to grow darker, and the trees seemed thicker and more impenetrable than he remembered. Oddly, he began to hear the sound of what sounded like a bell in the distance. It all conspired to deeply creep him out, and he decided to make his way back home, making note that his watch told him it was 11 AM. Yet as he turned around, he realized that he did not recognize where he was, and things would only get weirder from there. The witness tells his bizarre story as follows:
It was then that I realized I had no idea where I was. Keep in mind that I knew every inch of this forest, from the roads that boarder 3 sides to the lake that borders the other, I had hiked every inch of it numerous times before. Yet, I had no idea where I was. And then things started to get stranger. I looked down around my feet and saw a bunch of metal buckets and various metal tools. This is when I heard a voice. It seemed like a child calling for me by name. The voice was light and seemed to flow effortlessly on the wind. In my panic, I assumed it was one of my sisters calling for me to come home, so naturally I called my sisters name back. When I got no response, I took my phone out and tried calling; but this being the middle of nowhere on the Canadian Shield, I had no service. I looked around and out of the corner of my eye saw something dart behind a tree. I looked around me and saw laying in the ground among the buckets a rusted red bicycle, like one from the 50s you see in anti-nuke posters. And the bike seemed to be in the one part of the forest that light was shining through, kind of staging it. I quickly opened my camera and took a photo, thinking my eyes were playing tricks on me.
And then I heard it again. But this time the child sounded like they were almost singing my name, breaking it up at the syllables. I started to quickly walk away, hoping that I would end up anywhere but this area. But the voice seemed to follow me and I kept seeing glimpses of something running behind the trees keeping pace with me. So naturally, I started running as fast as I could. I ran as quickly as my legs could manage, not caring for the branches that would whip me in the face and eyes. After about 15 minutes of running, things started to look familiar. I ran down a massive hill and the trees started to become more open and brighter. I slowed down and started to walk, too terrified to check behind me. Once the feeling of impending doom settled, I finally mustered the strength to turn around. The moment I turned around is a moment I will never ever forget. I turned behind me and through the trees saw my house; as if I had been running away from it the entire time. Thinking that I must’ve just gotten turned around, and absolutely hating the idea of running back into the forest, I walked towards the house. As I was probably 100m from my house, I heard a spinechilling shriek come from the forest behind me, similar to the sound of a mountain lion screaming or raccoons fighting but it was far louder and seemed to be coming from not just one place, but almost many places at once.
I sprinted the final steps to my house and did not turn back. As soon as I entered the house I came face to face with my father, who was sitting at the kitchen table. I looked at the clock on the wall and saw it was 4:45pm. I have no idea what happened in the 5 hours between the time the photo was taken and the time I got home. All I remember is the 30 minutes it took me to get in, and around 20 minutes it took me to get out.
Was this some sort of ghostly forest entity? If so, what did it want? A similarly ghostly experience happened to poster “Lazuli369,” in east Tennessee. He says that when he was 15 years old he liked to walk in the woods around his home, and had never seen anything particularly strange out there until one day when he had just a short walk through an area he had been through many times before. On this day he would stumble across a very odd place nestled out among the trees that he had never seen before on all of his hikes, and which would prove to be infused with some sort of supernatural energy. He says of his otherworldly hike:
This time though, I'd decided to go just a little bit farther than I usually did and my house had just left my line of sight when I found something odd. That something was an area of forest in which absolutely nothing was growing. There weren't any trees, moss, mushrooms, or anything. This area happened to be in the shape of a large oval, and I couldn't see any imperfections in its shape. There weren't any signs that it was man made either. So, naturally I just sort of stood there and marveled at the strange plot of land. Shortly after, things started to get a lkt weirder. I started hearing some unnatural noise, and it sounded like it was coming from everywhere and nowhere all at the same time. I could hear it right in my ears, and from the forest around me, and it was getting louder. It took me a minute to identify the sound... It was a group of women harmonizing, at least that's what it sounded like to me.
Now, by this point I was honestly a little excited. Whatever was happening was obviously not a natural occurrence. I wanted to stay and observe, but I guess whatever or whoever was there was telling me to leave. The harmonizing soon filled my ears, and was beginning to be painfully loud. In spite of this, I stayed adamant in my staying. Then came easily the weirdest part. I just bolted back in the direction of my house without warning. I tore through briers and mud, not even trying to slip past them, until I found myself in my backyard again. As I stood there covered in scrapes, mud, and trickled with blood I realized that I wasn't the one that was moving my body. It was almost like I was in complete autopilot. I knew very well what I was doing, but I wasn't the one telling my body to do it. I don't know, it's difficult to describe. Being my hard headed self, I actually tried to find the spot again even though I was legitimately scared by that happening. Though, no matter how long I traipsed through those woods, I never found that place again.
With strange phenomena like this going on in the woods, it is perhaps no surprise that hunters should have their own brushes with strange forces beyond our comprehension out there in these dark wilds, and our final case here comes from a hunter calling himself James Dalton. The strange experience began with a squirrel hunting trip with his father and brother, and on this occasion they had decided to split up and then meet back at the car just before dark. This was pretty usual for them, and there was nothing particularly strange about the day at that point. Yet, as the witness went through one area of the forest that was very familiar to him, he says a wispy fog began to seep through the ferns around him and the usual sounds of the forest ceased. It was a bit disconcerting, and as he stood there his ears began to ring for reasons he could not understand. Unsettled by this, he began to head back towards the car when he noticed something moving through the ferns towards him. At first he took it to be a squirrel or possum, but it seemed to be headed directly for him, which was very odd behavior for a wild animal and put him immediately on edge. Things were about to get even stranger still, and he explains:
This is very, very unusual behavior for a wild animal. I thought that maybe it was a lost dog. I suddenly realized that this could be a rabid animal! At this point I lowered my shotgun and pointed it at the, so far, unseen animal. When I did this the thing changed its direction when it was about 30ft. from me and ran off to my left! I never did see what it was and have assumed all these years it was something so small I just could not see it even though it was moving the ferns pretty well as it ran through them. Whatever it was kept going until it was about 50ft. from me and stopped. The ferns where only about two or three feet tall in this area and not very thick. I could never figure out why I never saw this thing!
I then walked forward in the direction of where this thing had come. I decided to walk to my right a little and in the direction of where my brother should be and just get out of there. After walking a short distance I came to a very thick and tall patch of briers. The briers were about 8ft. in height and about 10ft. in depth! I remember thinking that I had never seen such a large patch of briers in this area before. I looked in both directions to see if there was a way to walk around the briers and could not see an end in either direction. It reminded me of a very large row of concertina wire from a WWII battle field! My first thought was, oh well, I’ll have to go back the way I came. As soon as I had this thought I was over taken by a very, very ominous feeling that something was not right here! At this point I decided (very uncharacteristically of me) to push through this patch of briers and get to the other side no matter what it took! I got scratched pretty badly on my arms while doing this but could not help myself! I kept pointing my shot gun behind me with my right hand while pushing the briers away with my left. In case this “rabid animal” charged me again!
Now I was surprised again. When I got on the other side of the patch of briers the first thing I noticed was the sun was out and setting low behind the trees. The sky was clear again! It was 5:30PM now! I could not believe it had taken me 2& ½ hours to walk 200ft! I could hear birds singing and squirrels barking. The atmosphere was “back to normal” and I knew everything was as it should be! Then I heard my father beeping the car horn signaling it was time to go. What a great feeling it was to hear that horn! I never did tell my father or brother about this experience. I am not sure why. Maybe because I knew that it was such a strange experience that they would have to have been there to feel the foreboding feelings to understand it.
There is no way to know just how true any of these cases are, but they reside within an area of the paranormal in which there are many, many more like them. We are left to ask what is going on here? Are these instances of some sort of portals or shifts in reality? Is it the result of spirits or forest entities of some sort? Or are there even perhaps more mysterious forces at work? Do such tales have anything to do with the myriad people who go missing in forests all of the time? There is no way to really know, and such reports serve to tantalize and stoke the imagination.