In 1948, a wildfire ravages the North Point section of the Keen Wild national forest in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, decimating a rural community of gypsies who live in seclusion in a cave.
Thirty two-years later, in 1980, an older couple, Frank and Mary Sylvester, are cooking food over a campfire in North Point. Unbeknownst to them, they are being watched by a mysterious figure in the shadows. While Mary walks to the lake to rinse their dishes, she hears her husband scream and returns to the campsite to find her husband's decapitated corpse. She is then killed by the killer wielding her husband's axe.
Several weeks later, three teenage couples—Nancy and Joel, Bobbie and Skip, and Greg and Gail—embark on a hiking excursion in North Point. While purchasing their nature permits, the women speak with Mark O'Brien, a forest ranger, who tells them that few people venture into North Point. As the group progress deeper into the wilderness, the high-maintenance Gail earnestly tells her friends that she senses someone has been watching them, but they dismiss her fears. During their first night in the woods, Gail hears a noise and sends Greg to investigate the disturbance. Gail is then smothered with her sleeping bag by the killer, and Greg subsequently has his throat torn open.
The following morning, the others awaken to find Greg and Gail have disappeared along with their camping gear. While searching the woods, Nancy finds a tree smeared with blood, but dismisses it as being from an animal. Assuming Gail and Greg returned home, the group leave a note behind at their campsite, and decide to continue with their trip. Meanwhile, Mark meets with the head ranger, Lester Tile, who informs him that he has received a call from the police regarding the disappearance of Frank and Mary Sylvester. Lester goes on to tell Mark a story about his witnessing a young gypsy boy wandering the woods after the 1948 fire, horribly disfigured by burns.
Skip and Joel decide to hike to the infamous Suicide Peak to rappel down, while Nancy and Bobbie suntan at the base of the peak along a river. Mark meanwhile hikes into North Point to search for the Sylvesters, and comes across the note left behind at the group's campsite. Nearby, he finds vultures consuming Greg and Gail's decomposing bodies, which have been concealed under brush. Meanwhile, as Joel is rappelling down the peak, the killer attacks Skip, breaking his neck, before cutting Joel's rope, causing him to fall to his death. Nancy and Bobbie hear his screams and run to the peak. Upon reaching the top, they find Skip's dead body, and are confronted by the disfigured killer: the gypsy boy from Lester's story, now fully grown, and with razor-sharp claws.
Nancy and Bobbie flee down the peak in terror, but Bobbie stumbles into one of the killer's booby traps, which lifts her into the air and thrashes her body against a tree, killing her. Cornered by the killer, Nancy faces him alone until Mark appears, shooting him with a tranquilizer gun and bashing him in the face with a large stick. Mark then comforts Nancy, but the killer awakens and kills him by crushing his throat. Instead of attacking Nancy, the killer smiles as he reaches softly towards her.
Some months later, during springtime, the crying of an infant child—ostensibly that of Nancy and the killer's—is heard emanating from a cave in the mountains.
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