My Terrifying Encounter With The Red Jacket Ghost In The Woods
Alright so I don’t really know how to start this story, so I’m going to give all the backstory I can. I’m a college sophomore. I don’t want to reveal too much about myself, but I go to a smaller college in the Midwest.
I’m a more outdoorsy type of person. During the summer I bike and fish all the time. My campus has some woods just to the south. It’s roughly 100 acres of woods, fields, streams, and wetlands. As a kid, I always dreamed of having an area like that to run around and explore so having it 15 minutes from my dorm, kind of made me feel like a little kid again.
Anyway, I guess the point I’m trying to get across here is I’m not a novice when it comes to being in the woods. I’ve been miles from the nearest road before so being in the backwoods is nothing new to me. I can handle 100 acres surrounded by a college and a golf course. Weird things I hear don’t freak me out in the woods, and I can usually tell what they are. I’m also a fairly logical person, and I think most things have an explanation.
The first semester of my freshman year I explored the woods a lot. I would go there for at least one hour a week; often it was three or more hours a week. Most of the woods are in a big valley that goes down about 30-50 feet. There’s an old gravel two-track that goes back into it. From the two-track, you can follow game trails deeper in. At the bottom is a creek that’s about 6-12 feet across depending on what part of the creek you’re at. There’s a large field in the centre of the woods that turns into wetlands after it rains. There used to be an old university magnetics research laboratory as well as an observatory back there that had both been bulldozed right at the beginning of the year.
During the late summer and fall, it was fun to go bush walking and explore it. I’ve found mink and beavers in the creek which is very unusual for my area but isn’t inconceivable. Eventually, the semester ended and I left campus for a month for the holidays. Once classes started back up, I continued going deep into the woods, but something felt different.
Things felt off from my previous visits down there. I have been in a lot of different forests, but none have made me feel as uneasy as this. I felt like I was constantly being watched. I kept looking over my shoulder to find nobody there. No greenery, just the look of death (it was January after all). I also thought it was kind of odd that I hadn’t seen any wildlife since I came back. This was strange because the area has one of the largest deer populations in this part of the state. Maybe it was just the feeling of death that winter brings on the woods, and the grey January overcast didn’t help. This was a reasonable explanation I gave myself, but my next visit wouldn’t help that reasoning.
I decided I was going to check out a part of the woods that I’d known about and seen, but I hadn’t really gone to that area. I went to that specific part because I thought I had seen a beaver during the fall in the pond there and being the nerd I am, I wanted to see if there was a dam there too. I took a different way to get to the pond and checked out the area. Because all the brush was dead for the winter, I was able to access areas I couldn’t normally get to. That particular pond was on the edge of the large field I mentioned earlier. Since I still had daylight left, I decided to head back into the field. There was a nice spot about halfway back in the field. It was next to a part of the creek and under some big evergreen trees.
As I walked back there, I found a weird spot along the way I hadn’t seen before. At least 50 old broken wooden pallets were broken and piled up back in there along with a mailbox. I didn’t think much of it. I had found an old rusty 55-gallon barrel a week before in another part of the woods so finding weird stuff like this had kind of became normal. Anyway, I continued back to the one spot by the creek.
I got there and checked out where I had made a little camp fire about two months ago. I wasn’t there long before the feeling of eyes staring at me started up again. “It’s just paranoia. You’re scaring yourself”, I told myself. I kicked around the old charred wood from the fire and turned to start the walk out of the field. I looked towards the creek and saw the only colour I had seen all day. A red jacket was floating just above the grass line and looked to be filled as if someone was wearing it. I stood there and stared trying to make sense of what it was. “It’s just a jacket propped up on a stick”, I told myself, “The wind blowing makes it look like someone is in it.” Even after me trying to tell myself that’s what it was, I could not shake the feeling of goosebumps. I turned and started the half-mile hike to get out of the woods as fast as I could.
I never encountered ghosts or ever really believed in them. During our orientation, they told us ghost stories about the woods. They said the kids that grew up in the old estate on campus, whose family founded the university, haunted the woods and a few of the buildings on campus. The reasons they gave for the hauntings sounded stupid, and I never believed them. They also mentioned an instance where a person’s fan in their room went mental and destroyed their whole room, and when they got help and came back, the room was completely fine. This all seemed like crap to me.
I made it to the two-track and continued walking as fast as I could out of the woods. I put my walking stick next to the same tree and tried to pretend like nothing was happening. I walked back to my dorm.
Two weeks later or so I ventured back to the nature preserve. I wasn’t going to walk back to where the encounter happened, but I was still slightly cautious about going back. I went to the bridge over the creek which is on the main two-track going back into the preserve. It was a cold, wet day hovering around 32F (0C). The two-track was muddy and wet to the point where you could hear your feet slosh as you walked.
I was just going to check to see how the creek had frozen over. After staying at the bridge for around three minutes or so I started walking back out of the preserve. Once again, I felt like something was watching me, but closer. I didn’t want to stop and investigate, so I kept walking. But as I kept walking, I heard more slushing. It sounded as though someone else was walking on the muddy road. I paused momentarily and hear the slushing continue behind me as if walking towards me. I glanced over my shoulder quickly to confirm that it wasn’t a deer or a turkey or just anything that would be behind me. At that point, I ran out of the preserve and wouldn’t go back for a while.
About a month later in February, I was on a camp trip with one of the clubs on campus. We had gotten a rustic cabin in the woods and were all telling ghost stories around the wood burning stove. After a couple of people read stories from Reddit and read a few mention myths from around the state, I decided to share my story.
At this point, I started to feel as though my encounter was made up, that I had just imagined the whole thing. However, later that night, another member of the club started talking to me to side. He asked for more details about the jacket, where exactly I was, what time it was, etc. He was an even bigger outdoorsman than I am, and he had his own scary story from when he worked in Florida. He told me that he used to run the two-track through nature preserve every day. One day he was running back there, and while crossing the bridge over the creek, saw the same red jacket floating in a tree. He said that it was high enough for no person to be able to climb up and place it.
He was the only one I knew that also saw the same thing. I had told the story to other people on my floor, but he was, and still is, the only one to see it. My theory behind it was we were familiar faces. We had both spent multiple hours back there a week so whatever it is kind of knew us or recognised us.
I have done extensive research on the campus and specifically the nature preserve. I have Googled multiple things and gone through the campus archives and can’t find anything saying what it used to be or what campus was before it became a school. I knew a bit of the area was farmland before it became a school but that was about it.
If anyone has any idea of what this is or has any questions about it, I will reply to comments when I can. I tried to be as detailed as possible to help identify what’s going on.