Unsettling Incidents From The American Backroads And Woodlands

First Published: July 30, 2018 Last updated: September 3rd, 2020 Written by: Marcus Lowth Estimated Reading Time: 9 minutes Posted in: Supernatural, Folklore

It is perhaps not surprising that the further out into the wilderness you go, the stranger and more unnerving the accounts of the areas get. We have looked before, for example, at the mysterious tales from Ben Macdui in Scotland, or the Bennington Triangle in the upper north-east region of the United States. These “off-the-beaten-track” locations harbor strange tales and even stranger anomalies. Often these result in bizarre sightings that strike fear into those who witness them. Other times they lead to unexplained disappearances, of which, many occur in the North American continent each year, in particular, the United States, as we will look at later.

A picture of an abandoned car in a dark forest

The American backroads have some of the most fascinating legends on record

The many remote locations in the United States alone account for many of the unsettling accounts on record. And that is perhaps no surprise. Although the country’s modern history is still only several centuries old, the land itself has stories that go back thousands of years. And whose direct influence appears to encroach on the contemporary citizens, as the modern society itself encroaches on these untouched parts of the United States.

Before we look at some of these intriguing, if chilling accounts, check out the short video below. It looks at the basics of the “Missing People” conspiracy. Something that appears to share a connection to some of the following encounters.

Shadow People On Mount Sterling?

Although the exact date is not certain, an account thought to have happened in early-summer 2018 in North Carolina is as unsettling as any. The anonymous witness claims to be a lead-hiker who takes small teams of hikers and mountaineers on organized treks into the mountain regions. On this occasion, he was leading a climb on Mount Sterling. After reaching the top they would set up camp for the night. The group were around six miles away from the nearest road and were, essentially, isolated.

It was a little after 10:30 pm. The witness had been reading, able to do so by the brightness of the full moon overhead. As he closed the book preparing himself to turn in for the night, he saw a “darkened humanoid figure” approaching their camp on the trail they themselves had used only hours earlier. He remained motionless, watching the figure until it suddenly stopped dead.

The “man”, who the witness would state he could “only see the outline of him” would stand as if “surveying the camp”. The witness began to lose sense of time. He wasn’t sure how long the incident lasted. He would later recall it “seemed like thirty minutes but may have been ten”. Then, the shadowy entity “turned and sat down under a tree facing our camp”. The witness had the intense feeling that whoever the dark figure was, it was watching them.

When the figure finally stood again, taking one last look around and headed back down the trail, the witness’s watch revealed it was 3:30 am. Although he didn’t see the figure again, the witness would state to “being paranoid” for the remainder of the trip. If the “person” watching them was human, what of their lack of lighting and climbing equipment?

The Old House In An Abandoned Town

The incident isn’t the only chilling account from North Carolina in recent years. Sometime in 2015, a user on social media (under the name tytrim89) told of their own encounter in the lonely woodlands of the area. He, along with six friends, had arrived there that day intent on exploring an “abandoned town” used by the US military for training exercises. The group were particularly interested in exploring an old house that was over one-hundred years old.

As they approached the building, they would split into small groups in order to cover more ground faster. The main witness would remain at the front of the property and scan the immediate land outside. One of the other groups consisted of his wife and her friend, who would do the same but at the back of the property. After several minutes, the two women returned to the front of the property claiming to have heard “two little girls laughing and playing in the woods”.

The witness ran his torchlight over the woods, walking a little way into the trees. They could, however, see nothing out of the usual. And the sound was no longer audible. When they returned to their vehicle at the front of the old house, though, each took in a sharp gasp of breath. The light on top of the jeep was turned on. Even more worrying, “one of the doors was cracked open”.

It was then that they head a thud like “some dropping a safe” that stopped everyone in their tracks. Realizing it wasn’t a military weapon of any kind, the team quickly jumped in their jeep and left. They didn’t look back.

A person of a person stood in a dark forest

Away from the cities, America is full of paranormal activity

The Mysteries Of The Great Smokey Mountain Range

The state of North Carolina shares a border with Tennessee. And along this region sits a mountain range synonymous with strange goings-on, The Great Smokey Mountains. Described as one of the most “diverse ecosystems in North America” the area is a World Heritage Site as designated by UNESCO, and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park sits within it. The whole region is home to a multitude of animal and plant varieties, many of which may still await human discovery.

On 14th June 1969, during a Father’s Day camping weekend trip, six-year-old Dennis Martin would seemingly vanish into thin air. His family had stopped at Spence Field, a popular rest point along the Appalachian Trail. As Dennis’s parents chatted with the other adults on the trip, he and his brother, along with two other boys decided to hide in the woodland along the path. They would then jump out and scare their parents when they came looking for them.

As Dennis was wearing a red top that day which the boys said would stand out, he was sent to one side of the path, and the rest went to the other. When the parents came looking for them and the three older boys jumped out, Dennis failed to do so. They would call his name, but he was nowhere to be seen. He had just disappeared. There were no signs of a disturbance where he had gone to hide. And furthermore, there was no evidence to suggest he had been the victim of an animal attack.

Perhaps one point of interest is the color red. We have looked at the Bennington Triangle before, for example. Several of the people who vanished there were wearing red clothing. What’s more, local legends state wearing red brings bad luck.

The Many Victims Of Smokey Mountain

Author and researcher, David Paulides took an interest in the Dennis Martin case as part of his research into his book ‘The Missing 411’. He claimed that one of the Rangers during the search for the young boy, Dwight McCarter, passed over some intriguing information about the case. According to interviews between Paulides and McCarter, special forces teams would arrive as part of the search for the Dennis Martin. However, they would not communicate at all with the Rangers or local police.

Even stranger, they were heavily armed as if expecting to encounter something they would need to meet with force. It made McCarter think they perhaps knew something everyone else didn’t.  Furthermore, incidentally or not, the lead investigator with the FBI on the case would suddenly commit suicide. The reasons for this remain unknown.

Dennis Martin is far from the only person to go missing in this particular region of the world. On 8th October 1976, sixteen-year-old Knoxville school student, Trenny Lynn Gibson, would disappear in the Smokey Mountains. She was on a school field trip with forty other students and were hiking to Andrew’s Bald. Depending on how fast or experienced the students were at hiking would depend in which smaller group of students they were placed for the hike.

At a little after 3 pm, Gibson’s group realized she was no longer with them. No-one could remember her leaving. In fact, no-one could remember when they had last seen her. She has never been found.

A picture of a color forest blended into a black and white one

The smokey mountain range is also home to a number of strange disappearances

“Don’t Try To Follow Me!” – Another Smokey Mountain Victim?

Five years following Gibson’s bizarre disappearance, 58-year-old Thelma Pauline Melton vanished on 25th September 1981. She was hiking with two friends near the Deep Creek Campground. She was the first in line of the three friends, who chatted leisurely as the walked. Thelma would walk around a bend in the path. By the time her friends turned the same bend, she was nowhere to be seen. She was literally there one moment and then gone the next. The entire area was searched within hours of the disappearance, but no sign of the experienced hiker was ever found.

One of the most recent vanishings in the Smokey Mountains occurred in March 2012. When 24-year-old Derek Lueking hadn’t arrived at work and not answered his phone, a search began for him. He had recently checked out of a motel near the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. He was even captured on the motel’s security footage leaving the facility with his backpack on his shoulders. Derek hasn’t, however, been seen since.

His family, though, would find his car as they searched the remote parts of the park themselves. In Newfound Gap the vehicle was discovered parked neatly in the parking area of the nature reserve. Even stranger were the vast amounts of survival equipment – all of which appeared to be recently purchased. Along with grain bars and water was other tools such as a pack ax, pocket knife with sharpener, and a survival belt. There was also a sleeping bag and a tent. Strange then, that all of it still remained in the car. Even stranger was the note Lueking’s family found, which read, “Don’t try to follow me”.

Despite a widespread search for him, Derek Lueking is still officially missing.

Sightings Of Shapeshifters In The American Wilderness?

Many of the areas associated with high rates of disappearances also share sightings of Bigfoot or even “shapeshifting” creatures. Whether these are responsible for the actual disappearances or are indicative of some kind of “portal-type” activity is open to debate.  A report from Idaho in 2004 is interesting as the unnamed witness – a firefighter supervisor – claims to have seen such an entity. And what’s more, this sighting took place in perhaps the aptly named, “Hell’s Canyon”.

The firefighter unit was responding to an emergency call from the region. The report said to expect to be at the scene for some time, possibly all night. As the unit set to work, the supervisor would drive along some of the logging roads, looking to see what the situation was like ahead of them. As he was doing so, he suddenly noticed what he thought was a bobcat crouching right in the middle of the road. He reduced the speed of the vehicle, expecting the creature to run into the trees. Instead, however, it simply remained where it was, staring back at him. Then it let out a screech, the likes of which he had never heard before. It then ran off, seemingly climbing up a nearby tree.

More than unnerved by the strange encounter, he quickly moved along his way, now eager to get back to the unit. Before he could do so, though, he would discover a grim-looking cabin. It was overgrown with weeds, but even stranger, it was right on the pathway that loggers would use. He couldn’t recall seeing it before. He brought his vehicle to a halt and got out to take a closer look.

A lonely misty road with a person walking into the distance

Many encounters in the American wilderness feature shapeshifting creatures

Corroboration Of Modern Events Through Native Legends?

He could see immediately that all of the windows had boards up. He could also make out heavy chains on the doors. Anxiety and fear would sweep through him. Thinking better of approaching any further, he would step back inside his vehicle and start the engine. He would back up and head back the way he had come. However, several moments later, in a spot pretty much where he had witnessed the bobcat in the road, stood a Native American woman. He brought the truck to a halt and called out through the open window if she needed help.

In response, the woman screamed back at him. It was the same unearthly scream he had heard from the bobcat. Just as he was about to press the accelerator down as hard as he could, he witnessed the strange woman climbing the tree “faster than any human has a right to be climbing”. Having seen as much as his mind could take he sped away, faster than the treacherous terrain would ideally allow.

Once back with his unit he would speak to one of his staff who was local and familiar with the local legends. He would specifically ask about the strange cabin. It is believed that the creature the firefighter witnessed was a “pumawha” – at least according to Native American legend. It is described as being able to “change skins” – or, as a shapeshifter.

These legends of shape-shifting entities are rife throughout North America, and particularly among the native Americans in the United States. And what’s more, there would seem to be many corroborating sightings of reptilian shapeshifters in the deserts of America. There have also been many similar sightings at the highly-documented Skinwalker Ranch. The video below reminds us of the Skinwalker Ranch conspiracy.

The Result Of Planned Intelligence?

Perhaps the idea of some kind of connection between these disappearances and strange phenomena in the American wilderness isn’t as “reaching” as we might think. Remember, for example, the ranger who stated the heavily-armed “search team” in response to a missing child? Or what should we make of the spooky fact of many of those who vanish happen to have been wearing red clothing at the time? A color that many indigenous tribes local to the area believe to be bad luck. Surely, as much as this seems trivial, it requires further investigation.

Researcher, David Paulides, has made many further apparently bizarre connections. He has, for example, recognized “cluster spots” where many of the disappearances happen. According to his research, there are fifty-two of these apparent danger zones throughout America and Canada. This would perhaps suggest some kind of phenomena causing these disappearances. Or are these spots the habitat of a more physical culprit?

He would also notice some truly strange happenings around the disappearances. For example, in 95% of cases he examined, bad weather would often occur in the immediate aftermath of a disappearance. This would severely hamper search units, in particular, sniffer dogs. This fact, if it is of importance, would suggest some type of intelligence behind the vanishings. As if there was an effort to wipe away as much evidence as possible without drawing attention to it. After all, who is going to highlight “bad weather” as a serious clue? Of the few bodies that do turn up in these spots, they are often missing their socks or shoes. This is a detail in many alien abduction cases, albeit the abductee most often returns alive.

The video below looks at these mysterious disappearances in a little more detail.


The stories, accounts, and discussion in this article are not always based on proven facts and may go against currently accepted science and common beliefs. The details included in the article are based on the reports and accounts available to us as provided by witnesses and documentation.

By publishing these accounts, UFO Insight does not take responsibility for the integrity of them.  You should read this article with an open mind and come to a conclusion yourself.

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About Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years experience. Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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