Chills in Chatham

Sure, we are months away from Halloween, but who doesn’t love a good ghost story, regardless of what the calendar says? You may not know this, but Chatham County is allegedly one of North Carolina’s most haunted counties. Of all the spooky tales with origins in North Carolina, this one may leave you scratching your head. Just 10 miles south of Siler City, the Devil’s Tramping Ground is a notorious camping spot near Harper’s Crossroads in Bear Creek. A perfect circle, 40 feet in diameter, this small plot of land is home to a massive mystery. 

An Empty Stage:

Nothing grows on the Devil’s Tramping Ground, adding to the many questions surrounding its history. It is a completely barren plot of land, deep in pine woods of Chatham County. Located on privately-owned land, it’s a quiet area, void of vegetation and all life. Anything planted on the grounds seemingly cannot survive. Here’s your destination: 4005 Devil’s Tramping Ground Rd, Bear Creek, NC 27207.

10 miles south of Siler City on State Road 110, from U.S. 64 South in Siler City, take West Raleigh Road South, which turns into Siler City Glendon Road. Stay on Siler City Glendon Road for 10 miles until Harper’s Crossroads, at the intersection of Siler City Glendon Road, State Highway 902 and Devil’s Tramping Ground Road. After driving a mile down Devil’s Tramping Ground Road, take the pull-off on the right and access the 20-foot path by foot to the clearing. Be respectful of the private land while visiting for your safety and the safety of others. 

Now that you know where to go, what exactly are you looking for? You’re about to find out! 

The Backstory:

Stories, dating back to 1882, claim this spot as a frequent hangout of the devil himself. The story goes that anything left within the circle is gone the next day, leaving room for the devil to dance. There are other theories that have developed to explain the Devil’s Tramping Ground, including it being the ancient meeting place for Native American tribes or its link to the Lost Colony of Roanoke. 

Some have attributed its odd nature to scientific explanations. One disputed theory assumes that horses used in the operations of a molasses mill had worn the land down over time, continuously walking in circles. Of all the explanations offered, the most realistic comes from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. After sampling the earth, results discovered the high salt content of the area, possibly leading to its sterility, but not a certain consequence. The soil within the circle has a higher sodium, copper, zinc and pH level than the soil located just a few yards away. 

Researchers have observed that ashes left in the circle from fires, started by locals, using this spot as a hangout, could have an effect on the land’s ability to support vegetation. 

Local Legends:

Chatham County native and folk musician Tommy Edwards has been around the legends of the Devil’s Tramping Ground his entire life. One of his lyrics goes, “There’s a circle on the forest floor where nothing green will grow. No Earthly science has yet explained just why that this is so.”

A popular, but not recommended, spot for partying, campfires and exploring, locals are left to wonder if the Devil’s Tramping Ground is a result of human overuse or something much more mysterious… Nevertheless, folks continue to visit, hoping to get a glance of something of the paranormal realm. If you ask the advice of musician Tommy Edwards, he recommends, “Now don’t go near that evil spot where Satan walks around, in the heart of Carolina, at the Devil’s Tramping Ground.”