Growing up in North Carolina, I heard about a lot of different legends and ghost stories. One of the more notorious that was localish to Chapel Hill was the Devil’s Tramping Ground in Chatham County. The Devil’s Tramping Ground is just a barren area in the middle of the forest south Siler City. It’s a short walk from Devil’s Tromping Grounds Rd so this is an easy place to go check out.
According to legend, this is where the Devil would come out to walk around while thinking of evil deeds to do to humanity. It is claimed to be barren because the devil won’t allow anything to grow there. He wants an easy circle to walk or dance around. If anything is left in the circle by morning it pushed to the edge of the circle. The circle is about 20 feet wide. The spot has been known about since the 1800’s. Supposedly scientists have been there to try and find out why nothing will grow there. Animals are thought to avoid the area and if you bring a dog to the circle it will tuck its tail and try to flee. I’ve never tested that out because it just seems cruel to do that to a dog.
It was about 30 minutes from Chapel Hill so us kids and teenagers would bet others to go there to see if they could find the Devil or be moved from the circle. Growing up I heard different people talk about their adventures there. Friends who were in the Boy Scouts were taken out there on a camping trip. Some claimed nothing happened. Other said their tent was moved to the edge of the circle. Still, others claimed to have heard footsteps or glowing red eyes from the surrounding woods. As a teenager, I heard stories of parties being out there. People claimed that they felt watched from the woods and witnessed seeing glowing red eyes out in the words.
After I got my driver’s license, I would occasionally drive down there when I needed a break from being around people. To me the woods were peaceful. Occasionally I would feel like I was being watched but I think that was just because I knew of the legends. I never felt threatened there even though I was often there alone. I never tried to contact the Devil but I know of people who claimed they try to. I don’t know what I would have done if he popped up during one of my visits but I honestly would probably try to talk to him and try to learn more about him. I’m always interested in people’s stories.
I haven’t been to the area in over ten years. It’s one of those places that I meant to go back to after moving away from the area but never make time to do it. The last time I was there it was pretty trashed with beer cans and other trash. Coincidently it was all around the outer edge of the circle. The center was burnt out but I don’t know if that was from a bonfire or the Devil popping out of the ground. The woods had thinned out a bit from the hurricanes that passed through but it was still well a ways from most homes.
Now I am grown up who doesn’t have a curfew and finally have my own camping equipment, I want to try to arrange a camping trip down there. Would anyone like to join me and see if we run into the Devil in the woods? I’ll bring the marshmallows!