15 Encounters That Made These Urban Explorers Turn Tail and Run

You’ve got to have a certain amount of bravery to call yourself an urban explorer – someone who drops into abandoned, probably haunted places for fun – in the first place.

But no matter the guts these people had walking in, they saw and/or heard things that had them running as fast as they could to get the heck out, too.

15. What on earth.

as a teen i used to break into an old aluminum factory a lot. led who was with me at the the time up a staircase winding around pill-shaped vats with small flap lids.

4 flights up we start seeing feathers, then a dead bird, then a pile of dead birds (with no open ceiling where they could’ve flown in).

we turn around and he stops me, says he saw some dust fall and we notice the lid on the vat next to us is open. there were no noises aside from us which was somehow comforting, still never went back after that.

14. That’s certainly creepy.

I was inside an abandoned brewery, looking at the old equipment. I climbed a lot of stairs and found a door with scribbles of graffiti on it, among them the sentences ‘Don’t look down’ and ‘Commit suicide here’

We were about 4 stories off the ground at this point but my curiosity was killing me. I opened the door

Nothing. No stairs or balcony or fence. The door was on the wall of the building and opened into thin air, and you absolutely would have been killed (painfully) had you fallen out

13. Definitely not funny.

Less ‘urban’ but sharing anyway

I was camping in BC with my gf at the time and her dog, had a couple of rough looking people who were the only other people in the area we were camping but it was late so we set up and thought nothing of it.

Guy wanders over while we’re in our tent (can hear him outside and dog is barking at this point) I get out and ask what he’s doing and he says he just wanted to pet the dog (this is at like midnight) told him we were settling in etc, guy wanders off without replying at all to what I’d said

Woke up the next morning to what looked to me like a single 9mm bullet sitting upright on our sites picnic table, and a happy face made with sticks and rocks on the bench part of the table below it.

Maybe it was just a shitty joke, but we sure as fuck didn’t stay around to find out.

12. Not even a question.

Came upon an active shooting gallery in a tunnel one time, I noped TF out of there in a hurry.

11. Lucky it was empty.

My friends and I explored an abandoned grain factory in Johnson City TN. It’s been torn down now, but it was massive. Stories upon stories. It was like 11pm and pitch black in there, and we had crappy little flashlights.

We were getting this horrible smell (like death), but kept exploring like dumba$ses. We went all the way to the top floor, and discovered it was a (currently) empty heroin den, complete with spoons and sh%t.

Definitely scrammed at that point.

10. This…cannot be true?

One time I was hiking in the woods behind my house and I found a mattress surrounded by heroin needles and used condoms, I mention it to one of my friends who went to school in the town and he, very nonchalantly, says “Oh yeah that’s ‘F*ck Mattress.'”

Fast forward a few years and one of the dishwashers at the restaurant I was cooking at let’s it slip that his first time time was on fuck mattress, now this dude weighed about 350 and was maybe 5’10” so the visual of that was just terrible, and unsurprisingly he never lived it down. Kitchen staff are fucken brutal so giving them that kind of ammo is not the best idea.

I checked on it last year when I was hiking and sadly it’s all but disintegrated into the forest floor, just a few scraps of fabric, some rusted out coil springs a smattering of old condoms and some old empty doritos bags, I like to think those were left over from that magical night that fat dude had his cherry busted.

R.I.P. F*ck Mattress, you will be missed, you weren’t just for heroin fueled hobo sex, you also provided a sketchy spot for highschool kids to sneak off and fuck.

9. An unlikely savior.

I was exploring when I noticed some dude trailing me. I was saved by a bus driver, who noticed me and opened the door as he passed by me.

8. Understatement of the year.

I was 16 or 17 (so like 2006ish), out in a park out in a western suburb of Chicago with some friends. Its a medium sized forest perserve with a big industrial lot leading to the parking lot, then a prarie area, then a big old forest with paths.

We’re walking around the forest for a few hours in the early afternoon and see some random pentagrams around and stuff, honestly nothing SUPER out of the ordinary but they seem concentrated by this field thats probably like 2000 sq ft of 4 ft tall grass. For whatever reason I thought it would be fun to walk into the middle of the grass field.

Right in the dead center, there is like a 8 ft long, 3 ft wide rectangle of freshly dug ground…. like perfect for a body. Because of how tall the grass was, it was almost totally covered, but when I moved the grass back it was like a burial mound. I told my friend we had to leave and so we beeline back to the parking lot, my friend didn’t smoke in his car so we had a cig next to the car.

Cop pulls up, and we’re underage so we flick our cigarettes and start to get in the car. Cop turns on his lights and stops us. Once he sees we’re kids, he says something like “Better get out of here, its not a good place to be after dark”

7. Chills!

Church Road. The abandoned house with religious pamphlets strewn about. We turn around and an old man is standing there behind us all of a sudden. Not shouting at us to leave just staring off through us. Down.

Needless to say we GTFO of there ASAP.

6. That’s one long day.

There was this massive salt storage facility that had a mountain of salt that a private company owned on a rather derelict property next to the city bay. I’m guessing the company sold salt to the city and other municipalities for road maintenance during the winter.

My friends and I, all about 12 at the time, as kids do at that age, thought it would be cool to sneak in and climb to the top of this major salt mountain. This salt mountain was about 200’ high, it was massive. We get to the top and celebrated, rewarded with the most gorgeous view of the city skyline and its buildings lit up across the bay as the afternoon had turned to dusk.

As we’re getting ready to come down off the mountain, there were about 5 guard dogs (I believe Dobermans) who were at the bottom of the salt mound staring up at us with a piercing glare. They couldn’t get up the mountain because they couldn’t get traction on the salt (and it probably hurt their paws). We all started freaking out, my friends little brother began crying, we began yelling for help but nobody was around, it was late on a cold Sunday afternoon in November. The sky’s hue darkened as dusk turned to dark. We were probably up there for 2 hours trying to figure out what to do.

We finally got silent, laid flat, and acted like we disappeared. The dogs must’ve gotten bored or distracted and began wandering away. We kept looking and looking and when they didn’t come back for 20 minutes, we traversed off of the salt mound as fast as we could and made a mad dash for the fence in which we entered and luckily all got out safely. Our parents were all pissed, ready to call the cops because none of us came home at dark. It was one of the most scariest moments of my childhood.

5. Sometimes you don’t want to know.

There was an abandoned house down the road from my high school that was still filled with stuff. Some friends and I would hang out in there from time to time. There was a point where the house got boarded up and we didn’t go into it for a while.

Jump to a few months later, and one of my friends told me he found a way inside. After a couple more weeks I went to the house with one friend to check it out again and relive some memories. When we got there, it was clear something bad had taken place. The stuff in the house was thrown all over the place. Any kind of dish from the kitchen was smashed on the floor. When we looked at the stairs to the second floor we both got the worst feeling, like we would find something terrible if we went up there, so we got the hell out of there.

After a couple more months, the house was demolished.

4. He went back!

Decided to solo mission an abandoned church. Dropped down through a window into the basement. After wandering through some hallways I found a large room with the stairs to the main level at the other end. Started crossing the room when I heard footsteps above me. It sounded like somebody walking with crutches or a peg leg making a weird thunk-THUNK, thunk-THUNK. The steps seemed to be going in a circle.

I paused for a minute. I’d had run-ins with homeless people before that were generally amiable. I’d make small talk for a minute, give them a smoke and some change, and everything would be copacetic. I wasn’t normally scared to run into them.

This time I had a weird bad feeling. After hesitating, I took a couple more steps toward the stairs. I was so focused on the noise above me that I accidentally kicked an empty spray paint can which clattered away along the floor.

The footsteps above me stopped for a moment. Then whatever it was began running – still making that thunk-THUNK – towards the stairs I was about to start climbing. I was suddenly more terrified than I have ever been in my life. I sprinted full tilt back toward the window I’d come through as whatever it was began running down the stairs and somehow managed to quickly claw my way up and out.

I didn’t look back until I was safely out of the building at which point I could neither hear nor see anything. I waited outside for a few minutes but apparently whatever/whoever it was had decided scaring me off was good enough and had retreated back into the building.

Slightly spooky epilogue. About three weeks later I went back with a couple friends. We made our way into the building and up the stairs without incident. Inside the church we found obvious evidence of multiple homeless persons living there. There were mattresses set up in corners, some small fires had been lit, etc. Most of it was fairly normal. However, on the window sills we found multiple birds and small mammals all of which had been beheaded and their bodies carefully lined up.

After perusing and photographing the main sanctuary, I and one friend made our way up to the third floor which had classrooms and offices. Coming up the stairs I could see the door to a room off the landing at the very top. As I got to the last few stairs the door abruptly slammed shut. The room had been dark and didn’t appear to have any windows and I couldn’t feel a breeze or see any open windows looking down the hallway from the top of the stairs that could have pulled the door shut.

My friend tried to open the door and said that it felt like there was something on the other side pushing it shut. We elected not to explore the third floor and after going downstairs and consulting with our other friend it was decided we should leave. About three years later I revisited that church and when I came to the top of the stairs I found the door to that room wide open. Shining my flashlight in I confirmed that the room had no windows.

That church is fairly well known in the local exploring community and while several people have said they got a bad feeling or felt creeped out there nobody else has had any kinds of encounters. I assume the first incident was a homeless resident trying to scare me off, the dead animals were the work of an unmedicated schizophrenic, and the slamming door was a homeless person not wanting his nap/high disturbed by some dumb kids. That said, the whole experience was hair raising and I still bring it up as an anecdote for new explorers on why you should never explore alone.

3. Truly terrifying.

I have a long, creepy as fuck story about heebie jeebies and why you should never, ever ignore them. Sounds made up but I promise it really happened.

When I was growing up my uncle owned a cabin in the middle of the woods up north. It was a small housing community (~50 houses) in the middle of the woods, meaning you had to drive five miles down a dirt road and then make a few more smaller turns here and there. No signs or anything until you were in the community so the only way to know it was there was if you owned property there.

Every summer we would spend a weekend there with my extended family, ~20-30 people. We’d tent outdoors around the cabin and have a good ole time. One game we liked to play was Survival which in hindsight was a terrible idea but it was the 90s. They had dune buggies so what we would do is the kids would team up into two teams. Each team would be blindfolded, driven down the backtrails deeper into the woods, then led on foot even deeper into the woods. Sit in a circle, wait for the parents to start leaving in the dune buggy, and then once we heard them drive away we could take off the blindfolds. The team who got home fastest, wins. As an added challenge, a white flag was previously hidden in the woods, so if you found the flag you got half an hour shaved off your time. We were given a long range walkie talkie in case of emergencies.

So here we are, a group of five cousins aged 5-15 (I was oldest) in the woods with no idea how to get back to the cabin. Each team had one of my uncle’s daughters who knew the woods so it was harder than it sounds to get lost lost (but it has happened previously). The final time we ever played, the entire time we were in the woods me and my cousin who was a year younger than me kept getting the heebie jeebies. Normally we go for the flag because it’s pretty easy but this time we just both collectively felt the whole “nope, let’s get the fuck out of here” feeling. We made it back in record time, flagless.

My uncle went to go get the flag after we left and when he came back he was so upset. He pulled me and my cousin aside and sternly told us if we were playing a prank, we better tell him right now. We had no idea what he was talking about so he told us that someone had moved the flag from one tree to another tree, so someone was possibly watching us. That night everyone had to sleep in the cabin on the floor because they were scared someone may have followed us back. We could never play Survival again.

Years later when we were older we asked about it again. He actually went to the garage and came back with the flag which he had kept, along with this rusty old knife. He told us that it wasn’t that someone just moved the flag, they stabbed it into another tree with this old knife, which had blood dripping onto the flag. Written on the flag in some marker said “if you kids scream I will gut you like a fish”. Someone was out there. We’re thankful we didn’t try looking for the flag.

2. My own personal nightmare.

Little bit late here, but I once went exploring with my brother on an old abandoned naval base at midnight. We snuck into the officers quarters and were just exploring when we heard a weird noise. We’re both into photography so I decided to take a flash photo and see if I caught anything weird in the light.

The camera went off and we both saw a massive, 6ft long bees nest on the side of one of the walls. I think our presence has just disturbed them, because hundreds of them were already crawling in the outside of the nest.

It was the single most scariest thing I’ve ever seen, and it was gone in a second because of the camera flash. We noped the f*ck out of there right as a cop was pulling up to see what we were up to lol.

1. And yet he keeps going back for more.

Oh I’ve had my share of things that made me nope out. Here’s just a few.

1.) Found a gas leak in an abandoned house that had been building up for years a couple weeks ago. I gtfo, but not before finishing taking the photos I wanted with extreme caution. That one I reported to the cops, as it’s classified as the kind of hazard in the urbex community that supersedes discretion.

2.) Ran into the security guard doing an unexpected interior patrol. He definitely knew we were there so we had to book it for the tree line before he could get the cops out there to search.

3.) Some homeless dude chucking cans and bottles out the fifth story window of an old factory my friend and I were poking around to scare us off. We took a hint and left.

4.) Tripped a motion detecting camera in the basement of an abandoned building and had to bail. I know for a fact they got a full face photo of me staring directly into the camera with shock but I never heard anything more about it.

My heart was in my throat reading some of these!

Do you have a story that would fit on this list? Share it with us in the comments!