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The Devil's Tramping Ground

Updated on March 16, 2014

"The Devil's Tramping Ground"

Fact or Fiction?

I have lived in North Carolina for quite some time now, and have always been interested in the supernatural. So when my friends suggested camping out in the middle of this wooded area near Siler City, I didn't know what to expect. It was called, "The Devil's Tramping Ground." Was there any truth to the legend? I had to find out. The events that unfolded were beyond my expectations. I wanted to share the local legend and my personal experience with my readers.

So What is the Devil's Tramping Ground?

What is so special about this patch of dirt? Strangely, there is a circular patch of ground in the woods by Siler City NC, near Harpers Cross Road, where nothing will grow. The circle is perfectly round, about 40 feet in diameter. Nothing will grow in the majority of the circle; the NC State Department of Agriculture took samples of the ground within the circle, and concluded that it is sterile. Along the edges, there are patches of what's called, "wire grass." This is the only vegetation that has had any remote survival around the edges of the sterile circle of dirt. What makes this such a strange phenomena is the sterile ground is encompassed only in this small circle. What is even more odd, is how well the forest flourishes around it. No dead trees or dry weeping bushes surround the circle, the rest of the woods is lively and beautiful. Normally, when ground is sterile, there is a large stretch of barren land due to a lack of nutrients in the soil of the area. Why is this one patch of dirt so diverse from the soil around it? How can one small spot be barren in the middle of the woods where the rest of the forest flourishes around it? Many times the soil can be treated to conform the land to make it acceptable for farming. What makes this patch of land legendary is the large length of time it has remained barren and the failed treatment to create growth in the soil. It has been alleged that nothing has grown within the 40 foot ring of dirt for a hundred years or more.

A Segment on the News about "The Devil's Tramping Ground"

Legends of the Barren Circle

The mystery of "The Devil's Tramping Ground" has been known since Chatham County was founded, shortly before the War for Independence, and the stories have been passed down for generations. I've heard it called two different names; "The Devil's Tramping Ground," and "The Devil's Stomping Ground." So how did this land earn these names? According to ancient legend, the Devil himself travels to this area every night. He paces around the circle brainstorming devious plots on mankind. His scorching hot hooves repeatedly stomping the ground is said to be why nothing will grow in the circle. In the morning he transforms into a crow or some other animal, and takes off to carry out his mischief. It is also said the Devil is near when the smell of sulfur is in the air.

It is also alleged that dogs tuck their tails between their legs and whimper when brought near the circle, they will dig their heels into the sand, and refuse to be brought into the circle.

There is also another sworn phenomena by many locals and visitors. Legend has it, if an individual places an object in the circle at night and comes back in the morning, the object is allegedly moved from the circle. Many witnesses claim this is true from experience. Ancient Druid magic? Aliens? The Devil himself? Or are kids pulling pranks to keep tourism alive in Chatham County North Carolina?

Theories How the Ground Became Barren

So, we have the legend lore that nothing grows in this patch of land because the Devil stomps around at night; what are some other theories of this barren circle of land? Other explanations of this strange place include Native American folklore, Druid rituals, and extra-terrestrial landings.

  • One theory is that the circle is the result of using horses in a mill many years ago. In the 1800's horses, mules, or oxen walked in continuous circles to power the three rollers of the cane crusher in the center of the mill. The continuous tread of the horses around a circle could have padded down the ground to dirt. However, this theory does not explain why the area remained bare of vegetation for such a long period of time once the alleged mill closed down. Many places that once had horse mills have since become areas covered with various plants and trees.
  • Early settlers thought that perhaps it was a place that Native Americans had used for secret and powerful tribal ceremonies and War dances. The multiple dances of the Native Americans around bonfires could explain the padded down earth from the dances, and the abundance of dirt from the bonfires made. Yet again, the question arises why did the area remain barren long after the natives lived in that area? With that belief comes the legendary theory that the "Great Spirit" keeps the place bare to this day as a reminder of the horrors the Native Americans suffered.
  • Another theory claims the area was special to a different clan of people; the ancient Druids. In this theory, it is said the Druids used this particular spot for their rituals. Allegedly, this area was used by these pagan witches as a source to draw power. Did the witches sense something special about this area itself, and that's the reason they chose this spot for their magic, because it heightened their power and they thrived off its energy? Or was it originally just a random spot chosen by the Druid's, that has since became an area of supernatural occurrences due to the many magical rituals performed by the Druids so long ago? .
  • Some people even claim that a UFO’s landing could have caused the circle. Could the ground be barren due to chemicals from other worldly spacecraft? Does it contain foreign particles in the soil beyond our modern scientific knowledge? This theory is somewhat far-fetched.

A Video of "The Devil's Tramping Ground"

The trail to "The Devil's Tramping Ground" (Distance from main road)

To the right of this photo you can somewhat see the start of the field area of tall weeds

Bear? Deer?

No Footprints!
No Footprints!

My Personal First Hand Experience

I wanted to share with my readers my own personal experience in 2010 at "The Devil's Tramping Ground." I traveled there with three other friends, with the intent to set up two tents and stay overnight right in the middle of this haunted barren circle. When we arrived, we were surprised to see how close the circle was to the road, it was around 50 feet away, possibly less; you could almost see the circle from the road. The circle was also smaller, it was originally 40 feet around at one time, it was around half that size at the time we arrived. I was distraught to see some accumulated litter and graffiti. It was clear young kids had been there recently, leaving beer cans around the fire pit and spray painting names and messages. One spray painted message was "There's no devil here." We picked up the trash before we left.

We strolled around the wooded area some, checking out the trails before setting up the tents. We experienced nothing out of the ordinary during our hikes. After an hour or so it was late afternoon, and we decided to sit by our tents, have a couple drinks, and play a board game to see if we experienced anything unusual while sitting in the haunted circle. As it started to get dark, a few hours after arriving, I started feeling unusually sick. I couldn't figure out the cause, nothing I ate, nor the couple beers I drank would explain why I was feeling so sick all of a sudden. After the trip, I was doing some research of "The Devil's Tramping Ground," and I was very surprised to discover that other people claimed to have gotten sick there as well, and that it passed when they left the area. I was not the only one who has described symptoms of nausea, excess tiredness and weakness, and even vomiting, while at "The Devil's Tramping Ground." Was it a random stomach bug/virus, or something I ate? Or was it something to do with this place?

I went in the tent to lay down, and I ended up falling asleep for a couple hours. When I awoke I was still feeling sick, but I wanted to follow through with my original idea to watch the movie "The Blair Witch Project," to set the mood. It was dark, and we were camping in a supposed haunted place, so I thought it'd be perfect. After the movie, it was about midnight, and that's when I experienced something that would haunt me for the rest of my life.

I had to use the restroom, and to gain some privacy, I walked a short distance down the trail away from the circle and the campsite. I had went to that spot a few times already, a couple times to use the restroom, and when I had gotten sick on my stomach. I had never been one to be afraid of being alone in the dark, and was even more stubborn never to show fear in front of my friends. Plus, I assumed like all the other times I or my friends had went down the trail; I'd be fine. The campsite was surrounded by woods on three sides and towards one direction was a sort of field of tall grass and weeds. I was positioned with my back towards the woods and I was facing the direction of the field, which had started turning into woods right about where I was on the trail.

As I was doing my business, I heard a LARGE rustling and ironically, a "stomping" noise about fifteen feet in front of me towards the field area. Startled, I nervously looked towards the area of the noise with my flashlight...but there was nothing there. It sounded huge like it was AT LEAST a good hundred pounds and about five foot tall. I judged the height by how high the weeds were rustling and the branches swaying. My first thought was a deer, but a deer would unlikely be five feet in height, and a couple hundreds pounds. Plus they are not clumsy and noisy, they are swift and light on their feet; their hooves do not make large stomping sounds. I was somewhat puzzled nothing was there, by the sound of what I heard I half expected to see a bear in front of me. Also, the woods were not thick with brush, there were no hiding spots next to the spot I heard the noise; I would have seen someone or something running off. But there was silence now, and nothing in sight.

Not more than a minute or so after, I heard the noise again. It sounded like something had took another couple large stomps closer in my direction...then silence again. I was pretty scared now, I was just frozen in fear with my flashlight still pointed in the spot of the noise where NOTHING is there. This happened one more time, and this time the large invisible stomping noise was about four feet in front of me. I unfroze and took off running back down the trail to my friends camp as fast as I could. I hadn't even buckled my belt, I fastened it up as I was running because I was so scared and in such a rush to get away.

Two of my friends were sitting by the tents, one friend was just starting to walk up the trail to check on me, to make sure I wasn't vomiting again, or sick, just that I was okay. I was still in shock, feeling a mix of fear and just bewilderment at what just happened. I told my friends what happened, and even asked if any of my friends pulled some kind of prank on me. They denied pulling any prank, saying they were sitting by the tents the whole time, until the one friend began to walk up the trail to check on me just as I came running back. My friends weren't as big as what I heard, nor could they have hidden somewhere and produced the noise that I distinctly heard coming closer. I still had to ask though, as I tried finding a logical explanation. They didn't believe me, they told me it was probably an animal. By the way they acted, I was even more certain they were not behind the noises. But I know what I experienced was real, even though I couldn't figure out a logical explanation for it.

Something was weird about that field. My friends claimed they heard noises in the field too while I was asleep. When I asked one of my friend's what he heard, his exact words were, "I heard loud thumps all around us, as if someone was throwing cement blocks." I remember at 3:00am (the Devil's hour), we all came out of the tent and sat in the circle to see if anything paranormal would happen. 3:00am is known as "the Devil's hour," due to certain paranormal activity at this hour in many hauntings. Paranormal activity from alleged evil entities would occur at 3:00am as a mockery to the holy trinity, and that Jesus died on the cross at 3:00am, and arose in three days. Some cases reported that spirits would make knocking sounds that came in threes.

What was most odd to me about that field was the silence. It very much unnerved me that the forest was full of life and noise all around us...except for in that field. In the surrounding woods we heard birds including owls, bugs including loud crickets, distant howls, and natural forest sounds. I didn't hear so much as a cricket in the field. To me, that was almost unnatural.

The only other odd thing that happened was in the morning. We were up most of the night and leaving early, but we did doze off for a couple hours after 3:00am. In the morning, I awoke to hear someone outside the left of my tent. It sounded almost like a dragging sound, like someone was dragging their feet a little in the gravel as they stepped, and it was very close, just outside our tent. I listened for a moment, maybe hoping to recognize a voice, such as one of my two friends that were on the right in the tent beside us, because the friend that was in my tent was still asleep. I didn't hear the steps going in any particular direction, like into the woods, or into my friends tent to the right of ours. I listened hard to be certain I was positive it sounded like footsteps as well, and not an animal. So I started getting a little worried there might be a stranger pacing right outside the tent where we were sleeping, I almost felt as if I was being watched, it was right next to me.

So I quietly woke my friend to check it out, hoping it was one of our friends from the tent next to us stepping out to use the restroom. When I woke up my friend sleeping in my tent, he yelled for our friends in the tent next to us. They both answered; they were in their tent to our right. So who was walking around to the left of my tent??? We all stepped out to check it out, but no one was there. I didn't hear the footsteps anymore. We didn't hear or see anyone running off into the woods either. What was even stranger, was that there were no footprints. I distinctly heard feet dragging in the gravel. There's no way the ground could be smooth and undisturbed. One of my friend's in the tent next to us said he was awake, and he had heard the dragging steps as well, but he thought it was one of us stepping out to use the restroom since it was right next to our tent.

Was it an animal? Possibly, but unlikely, because the footsteps were large thuds, then a slight dragging in the gravel. I couldn't think of an animal that would make those noises. Was it a person? Possibly, but we didn't hear or see anyone running away. There was not really enough time for someone to run away or hide without us seeing them. I suppose it might have been possible, but there was definitely not enough time for someone to cover their footprints where they stomped heavily and dragged their feet in the gravel before we emerged from our tents. The lack of any tracks or footprints was astonishing to me.

We packed up our tents and left after that. I was feeling better that morning as we drove off. I was no longer feeling extremely tired, nauseous, and throwing up. Nothing was moved from the circle like the alleged legend I mentioned earlier. Our tent was right in the middle of the circle, and we were not moved by any supernatural force. Every item in the middle of the circle including ourselves were untouched. So in my personal experience, I did not witness this claim to be true. It is very possible that when someone places an item in the circle at night then leaves, that a local could be coming there at night and moving the object. This would explain why the owner of the object could find their object moved from the circle in the morning. Could we have been pranked by locals as well? Maybe, but I feel my one experience down the trail in the woods remains logically unexplainable, and was very possibly supernatural. I definitely want to go back to further investigate, "The Devil's Tramping Ground."

Witness Testimony From Others of Their Experiences at "The Devil's Tramping Ground"

Sabrina R.'s Story:

(Sent two years ago to paranormalwitness)

"My brother, Sanford, my friend, Beth, and I started our own paranormal group.We named it Scaredy Catz Paranormal Society. We go to real places and investigate. Our scariest happened at the Devil’s Tramping Ground in Siler City, NC."

"We walked to the circle and the first thing we noticed is how creepy it felt and how quiet it was. We didn’t hear any bugs or birds. We did hear a cow in the distance that made Beth and I jump until we realized it was a cow. My brother started asking questions and taking some pictures. I was video taping our encounter and Beth was also taking pictures. My brother caught some voice recordings that seemed to match what he was asking. By now Beth and I were very scared, we kept seeing a dark figure standing between two trees and it felt very wrong. We heard noises that we couldn’t explain. After we were there for awhile the three of us started smelling sulfur and getting nauseated. We decided this was probably a good time to leave. Less than a minute after leaving my brother had to pull the car over because I had to vomit. After about 10 minutes we were all feeling better, as if we hadn’t been nauseated at all.

Once we started reviewing our evidence, we found the video picture didn’t come out, it was just black, but it did record some of what we were saying and the voice recordings my brother had caught. The only thing that did come out was three pictures. The first two were taken from the same camera and the last one from a different camera. In the first picture you could see half of what looks like a demonic face. In the second you can see the progression to a full demonic face. In the last picture you can see what looks to be a demon standing in front of two trees. This last picture was taken at the same time you hear us on the recording saying that there was a dark shape by two trees. The three pictures show this progression from a partial face to a full body. This scared me so bad I don’t think I will be returning to the Devil’s Tramping Ground."

To read the whole story, go to the link below:

Witness Testimony From Others of Their Experiences at "The Devil's Tramping Ground"

My night at the Tramping Grounds

Submitted by Nicolas on Mon, 10/04/2010 - 04:31 to

I'm a Chatham County local, and one who loves the paranormal at that. One day my friend Colin and I decided to go and try to stay the night at the tramping grounds. We got there around midnight, and we walked around the circle a few times, and found nothing really creepy about the place when it comes to it just being a circular path in the woods. However while I was there I got a sinking feeling that if we were to stay the night something terrible would happen. Before we left, we decided to walk once more around the trail, and see if we noticed anything out of place. About 1/2 of the way around the circle, the path in front of us seemed to have literally disappeared. We could not move forward because there was no longer a visible trail. We decided to turn back and go back the way we came. We got to a spot where we could see the night sky clearly, and in the light of the moon, I swear I saw a silhouette of a man with horns facing me, and I suddenly got the sinking feeling that I should leave immediately. I bolted for the car, and I haven't been back since.

To read more stories like this one, check out the link below:

Witness Testimony From Others of Their Experiences at "The Devil's Tramping Ground"

A story by Anonymous written on July 10th, 2007 at 12:00pm to Writer's Sanctum:

A Photo Posted by the Author of This Story

(Part One)

"At any rate, we decided to go for a walk as the sun came up, I'd say it was around 6:00 or 6:30. So, we took a trail we hadn't taken during the night. Thank God we didn't take it during the night. So we're taking this trail, everything's cool, some weird stuff like a branch shaped perfectly like a stylized 5, and little patches where nothing was growing, just basic "hey, that's weird" stuff. We come to a fork, and Jon, Kris and I split up, with me taking one road and Jon and Kris taking the other, but we make sure we can see each other; the forest isn't especially thick where we are. I get to another fork in the road, and as I'm trying to decide which path to take, and as you watch in the video (yes, there is a video recording), as soon as I mention the left path, this clattering cuts me off. Now, it sounds like the clattering that comes from something (I'm assuming part of the wristband) that's been hitting the camera throughout the whole thing. That is not what it was. Wanna know how I know? Cuz I heard it. As evidenced by my saying "Holy crap!" and then immediately afterwards shutting off the camera by accidentally hitting the button."

"The sound wasn't a clatter. It was the sound of many, many heavy footfalls at a full, breakneck run heading straight toward me. It sounded like anything from five dogs to three horses, honest. The footfalls sounded way too loud for just one or two dogs, maybe for dogs period. The sound was coming from about ten yards in front of me. Which was funny, since I could see ten yards in front of me, and there was nothing visible there. But they were headed toward me, and I ran, at which point they started barking. Oh, and by the way, when I say barking, I don't mean the "hey, someone's here" barking, or the "Hey, what's up?" barking. I know some about dogs, I can identify barks. This was more like a "We're going to gnaw your head off and feast on your entrails" kind of bark. Now, I know what you're thinking. "Oh yeah, so you ran into some dogs and got scared. So what?"

"I'd be happy to write this off as "Nathan ran into some dogs in the backwoods." But I can't. These things did things dogs can't and don't do. For instance, notice that I didn't say I heard them start running. One second it was silent, the next it was like they'd been running the whole time and I could just then hear them. They were at top speed, I could tell by the sound. Normal animals can't get to top speed so fast their victim can hear them accelerating. For another thing, I already mentioned that the source of the sound should've been visible, but wasn't. The sound was really weird, hard to place as far as where it was coming from. But I knew it was somewhere in front of me, and closer than I wanted it to be. So like I said, I ran. Then the weirdest part happened. They started barking and chased us for about 30 yards, and then they (and the rest of the forest) just fell silent. No barking, no footsteps, no panting, not even the crackle of a leaf as they moved. The only sound was a single cricket. The dogs had gone completely silent in mid-pursuit."

A Photo Posted by the Author of This Story

(Part Two)

"Dogs don't do that. When they've got their mind to run someone down, they'll go over fences and through windows to get them. They don't just give up a chase in broad daylight with nothing standing between them and their prey. If something does keep them from getting to whomever they're pursuing, they'll raise a royal ruckus for a long time after that. These things were completely silent, and my friend, who instead of running had ducked down as the dogs had not seen him yet, stood back up very slowly and noted that he couldn't see a single dog, even though Jon and I heard them at our heels. So from silence, to strangely loud and not quite matching what it should've sounded like, back to dead silent."

"Long story short, we very quietly approached the place again, nothing happened, Sam and Kris yelled a few times to see if they could get a reaction, and we started heading back. What the video doesn't show (I was pointing the camera forward and looking over my shoulder) is that Kris drops this huge stick really hard on the ground, so as to make a good bit of noise. The barking and howling ensued and began to draw nearer, and we ran for our lives again. Only this time it came from more than one place at once, and we ran a little harder than last time. They never followed us all the way back to the tramping ground."

"Long story short, we're not sure if we got chased by some guard dogs, ghost dogs, demon dogs, or Cerberus himself, but Jon and I are fairly certain that the first option doesn't quite fit with what happened. Note that I'm writing this about 6 hours after the incident, it's still fresh in my mind. So yeah... Weird stuff out in the woods. Don't ever go alone."

To read the whole story check out the link below:

Coincidences? Fact or Fiction?

I was very surprised to find others sharing similar experiences as mine at "The Devil's Tramping Ground." One person sharing the feeling of nausea, the other being approached by something large that he could not visibly see but hear. The other's testimonies could be false, but the possibility that they are true and the coincidences of how they are similar to my own personal experience sends shivers up my spine.

I hope you've enjoyed my article on "The Devil's Tramping Ground." Feel free to share your own stories if you have been to this haunted barren circle near Siler City, NC. If not, dare to travel there and see for yourself if you witness anything paranormal...If you're not too scared.

I Want to Hear From My Readers!

Do you believe "The Devil's Tramping Ground" is haunted, or a site for paranormal activity?

See results

© 2014 Amber

How About You Readers? Any Personal Experiences or Stories You Want to Share?

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