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Are There Feral People in the Smoky Mountains?

By Molly Weinfurter


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Are there feral people in the Smoky Mountains? A lot of people online seem to think so. Lots of people go missing at national parks, and TikTok users have been creating videos to talk about some theories. A lot of people seem to believe there are feral people lurking in national parks, especially in the Smoky Mountains. They also think those wild people are responsible for many disappearances.

Are There Feral People in the Smoky Mountains

It’s hard to tell if these theories are true or just a misunderstanding, but either way, they sure are fascinating.

What Are Feral People?

The word “feral” is described as a “wild state” or “resembling a wild animal.” So, a feral human would not only be human living in the wild, but also a human behaving animal-like. It’s very rare for a human to become feral, so if there are feral people in national parks, they have likely been raised in the wild for generations.

Are There Feral Humans in the Smoky Mountains?

There is no evidence that feral people exist in the Smoky Mountains, but it might answer a lot of mysteries. Stories say that the feral people of Appalachia steal livestock and potentially children at night. People claim these humans have lived in the wild for so long that they act more like animals than men, which is why some people believe the feral humans are cannibals.

However, others have pointed out that even if there are feral people, they probably wouldn’t be cannibalistic. There are lots of resources in the Smoky Mountains, so they wouldn’t have to resort to eating humans. 

Most people do not believe there are feral people in the Smoky Mountains because it seems unlikely that they could go undetected for so long. If some people had evidence of feral humans, it’s also unlikely that they would cover it up. So, for those reasons, the claims of feral humans are probably false, but all the stories on the internet are sure to make the public curious about it anyway.

Feral Humans Linked to Missing People

Feral Humans Linked to Missing People

The belief of feral people has been around since 1969 when a 6-year-old named Dennis Martin went missing in the Smoky Mountains. Dennis and two other young boys wanted to play a prank on their parents by hiding and jumping out at them. The boys weren’t as sneaky as they thought, so the parents saw them run off to hide. 

However, when the other two boys popped up, Dennis didn’t. His family searched everywhere, but Dennis had disappeared without a trace. Over the next few days, the search grew, but no one saw the boy. They found footprints of the type of shoe Dennis was wearing, but they seemed too big. A lost shoe and sock also turned up, but it’s unclear if they belonged to the boy.

Another family had been exploring the park a few miles from where Dennis went missing. They hadn’t heard about the missing boy at the time, but they heard a scream and saw someone running through the woods. At first, they assumed the figure was a bear, but they later claimed to see a “disheveled man” crouched down in the bushes.

Harold Key, the father of the family, said the man was definitely avoiding them. Some sources say Key never saw a child with the man while others claim he saw a figure carrying the boy. However, people likely added dramatic details when retelling the story.

Key told officials what his family witnessed, but the story didn’t help find the boy. Plus, Key’s family didn’t know the exact timeline of the sighting. Yet, if their story is true, they may have seen a feral person. After this story was retold for years, people have continued to believe that feral people are responsible for some of the disappearances in national parks.

If Appalachian feral people didn’t take Dennis, then what happened to him? How did he go missing within a matter of seconds and why didn’t he respond to people calling his name? Questions like that are still a mystery to this day.

Why are People Going Missing in the Smoky Mountains?

Why are People Going Missing in the Smoky Mountains

Approximately 1,000 to 1,600 people have gone missing in national parks without being found. However, some sources say there have only been 29 open cold cases for people missing in the parks. If feral mountain people aren’t to blame, then what’s the reason? There are lots of videos online discussing Dennis’ odd disappearance and how it could link to feral humans, but nothing is confirmed.

There are lots of realistic reasons as to why someone might disappear in the Smoky Mountains. The park is dangerous for anyone to travel alone because of wild animals and uneven terrain. Dennis could’ve fallen and died when looking for a better hiding spot and that’s why he never heard anyone calling for him.

Even if Dennis was lost for a while before his death, a storm appeared shortly after he went missing, so the sounds of other people could’ve been drowned in the winds. With so many people searching for Dennis, his tracks and scents were covered, which also made it harder to search for him. Thus, many people get lost in national parks and die because of wild animals, extreme weather, or falling.

Yet, it’s odd that so many people have gone missing without even their bodies showing up. Their bodies may have gone unidentified if found. The only real answer to why people go missing in national parks is that no one knows for sure. It could be feral people, but that’s far from one of the most realistic answers out there.

If Key really saw a human during his trip, it was likely just someone else exploring the park. Just because they were disheveled doesn’t mean they were feral.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re intrigued by feral people in the Smoky Mountains, here are some common questions.

How Many People Go Missing Each Year?

Over 600,000 people go missing every year, and about 4,400 unidentified bodies are found annually. So, the number of people going missing without a trace in national parks is very small compared to those numbers.

Can a Human Become Feral?

Yes, humans can become feral if left alone in the wild for too long, but it’s more likely to happen to children than adults. Reports of feral humans are very rare.

How Big is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is 522,427 acres. It sits in Tennessee and North Carolina.

Final Thoughts

The idea of feral humans Smoky Mountains is a frightening thought, but there’s not enough evidence to confirm that theory. So, don’t let this topic deter you from visiting the gorgeous national park. There are lots of fun things to do near the Smoky Mountains, such as A Walk Between Trees.

However, you should always proceed with caution when hiking. Pack food, water, and any items you may need in case of an emergency. It’s also a good idea to pack a paper map in case your phone service is spotty. Hiking is a breathtaking experience, but taking necessary safety precautions is the best way to keep everyone’s mind at ease.


About Molly Weinfurter

Molly Weinfurter is a freelance writer and editor that specializes in family, travel, and animal-related topics.

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