Why This Seriously Bizarre Hiking Spot Caused Such A Stir On The Internet

A hike through nature usually offers a peek into wildlife or perhaps stunning views from an incredible overlook. But sometimes, hikers stumble upon — or even help create — some bizarre spots only found by those who aren't afraid to go off the beaten path. A New Jersey website documented one example of a unique and totally weird local hiking destination in a viral clip on Instagram

The footage shows dozens of frying pans dangling from trees in a desolate wooded area. According to the video, the spot is known as "Frying Pan Forest," and it's a geocaching spot where — you guessed it — the frying pans decorating the tree branches are the main attraction. From the looks of it, the forest has a creepy atmosphere, and the narrator of the video explains that the origin of the pans is unknown. That might be why so many on social media became enthralled with the mysterious place, earning the Instagram reel over 50,000 likes to date.

The forest has a mysterious backstory

There might not be any official word on the reason for Frying Pan Forest's existence, but one person on Reddit has a theory. The user, who goes by Fishooked, posted a photo of the forest to a New Jersey SubReddit. The picture offers a clear view of some of the pots and pans, showing how high up many of them are positioned in the trees. The poster explained in a follow-up comment, "I've lived here since 2000 and always knew it was there, but kind of forgot about it. [...] From what I understand there used to be an old Girl Scout camp nearby, Camp Blue Heron, and I believe they were the first to start hanging [the pans] up there." 

The Redditor added that the only way to hang the cookware so high up is to pull yourself up the trees with a rope, adding to the forest's mysteriousness. Who exactly is leaving their pans in the trees, and why would they climb all the way up a tree to abandon their unwanted kitchen supplies? To make the site seem even more eerie, TikToker @hike_with_lisa posted a clip of the forested area, claiming in a caption that some believe it to be haunted (which may be appealing, if you're into haunted hiking trails). With that in mind — and given how close the spot appears to be to the nearby highway — you might want to avoid visiting after dark for safety reasons.

How to find Frying Pan Forest

The pan-adorned forest can be found through the Geocaching app under the name "Rock Islands frying pan Tree," and to track down its location, you'll have to upgrade to a premium membership. If you're new to geocaching, the activity is like a scavenger hunt set in outdoor and public places, relying on clues and your phone's GPS to help you navigate. You know you've found the hidden spot when you locate the geocache item, which is typically a capsule or other container with a logbook inside.

Rather take a shortcut right to the forest? You can find it conveniently labeled on Google Maps. The spot is located in Sparta Township, an hour away from New York City and just next to Route 15 at the Sparta exit. However, the forest is positioned up on a cliff, so you won't be able to reach it from the busy highway. Instead, head to Weldon Brook and hike east. Be prepared to scale some rocky terrain to reach the top. Be sure to take in the sights and sounds of all the pans and, if you're working on decluttering your kitchen cabinets, feel free to add your own cookware to the bunch.