I’m a sucker for a good wood. In fact, as a child, I used to quite happily head off into the local woods for hours on end. (Ah, those were the days, when kids used to be able to do that).
However, one day, all those good vibes went. I spotted a strange silhouette, standing in the bluebells, about ten meters from where I was standing. I was about eleven at the time, and realized, with growing horror, that I was completely alone. The thing slipped away through the trees and that was the end of it. But it made me appreciate just how frightening forests can be.
Nine Haunted Forests
What is it about the woods? Is it the silence? The sense that something’s watching you? All those trees, concealing unknown creatures? Whatever it is, it’s true to say that they’re so universally regarded as spooky that they appear regularly in horror books (including the first two novels in my Dr Ribero series!).
Some forests are infinitely more frightening than others, though. Here’s a list of the most haunted forests in the world.
The Most Haunted Forests in the World
Hoia Baciu, Romania
Surprise, surprise—this one’s in Transylvania. However, when it comes to the local legend about this place, there’s not a vampire in sight.
Hoia Baciu started to gain national attention in 1968, when a military technician photographed what looked like a UFO, hovering over a part of the forest called The Clearing. Now, The Clearing is a spooky place in itself. For starters, nothing grows there, and animals don’t like visiting either. It’s one of those locations. Anyway, what was interesting about the UFO report is that the guy who took the photo had nothing to gain by showing it to others. In Romania, at the time, people who believed in aliens were considered mad, or anti-state at least. The military technician lost his job as a result of sharing it.
To this day, strange phenomena plague people who enter the forest. Most electronic devices (such as mobile phones) suddenly cease working if you venture too deep. You might also start to feel sick or anxious. And plenty of people have managed to take photos of strange things occurring in Hoia Baciu, such as shadowy figures roaming around the trees, and ectoplasm on the leafy ground.
This forest is so dense and vast that it’s sometimes called The Sea of Trees. Its other nickname is far less poetic—The Suicide Forest.
It’s widely regarded as one of the most popular suicide locations in the world. It’s difficult to state exactly how many people bring their life to an end there; mainly because Aokigahara is so large, it’s unlikely that all the bodies have been discovered. However, it’s thought that at least 100 people take their own lives while they’re in the forest.
As such, locals believe that Aokigahara is rife with spirits of suicide victims. Many are said to simply roam around sadly, disappearing when visitors come too close. Others are more malicious, with some even trying to lure people further into the forest and make them lose their way. If you do get lost, you can forget about calling for help. The soil is unusually rich in magnetic iron, which makes picking up a phone signal almost impossible.
Wychwood Forest, UK
Once a firm favourite of royalty (thanks to its hunting grounds), these days, Wychwood Forest is better known for its spooky atmosphere; particularly if you veer too far off the beaten track.
The forest’s most famous ghost is Amy Robsart, who in life, had been the Earl of Leicester’s wife. She died in mysterious circumstances, then ten days after her death, appeared to her husband in Wychwood Forest. She informed him that he too would be dead within ten days—and she was absolutely right. Local folklore says that she still appears from time to time, to warn visitors of their impending deaths. Eek.
Freetown-Fall River State Forest, US
So many strange and sinister stories are associated with Freetown State Forest, that it’s difficult to know where to start. Its location is spooky in itself, as it’s situated bang-slap in the ‘Bridgewater Triangle’—an area known for its plethora of supernatural events; including ghost, monster, and UFO sightings.
Perhaps the most famous supernatural inhabitants of this forest are the Pukwedgies—short, lumpen beasts with smooth grey skin; who have an unfortunate habit of throwing rocks in people’s faces or pushing them off cliffs. Sound ridiculous? Well, strangely, there have been numerous sightings, and some from highly regarded figures in the local community.
In the 1970s, Freetown State Forest was linked with Satanic rituals and several murders, and more recent years have brought with them sightings of mysterious fireballs and poltergeist activity. Some people believe the sinister events were caused by settlers in colonial times purchasing the land (with sacred burial grounds) from the Wampanoag Tribe.
Black Forest, Germany
With a name like this, it’s unsurprising that the Black Forest in Germany is rife with legend, folklore, and eerie tales. One of the most unsettling aspects of the forest is that hardly any sunlight gets through the tightly packed fir trees, so it’s always pretty dark in there, even on a sunny day.
Many of the myths associated with the Black Forest seem more fantastical than paranormal. For example, some claim to have seen a headless horseman, racing through the trees on his horse, while others say that there are werewolves and dwarves hiding deep within the heart of the forest itself. One thing’s for sure—the place has an atmosphere, and it’s easy to see why many authors have used it as a setting in their books!
Devil’s Tramping Ground, US
Travel deep into the woods in North Carolina, and you’ll find yourself at a bizarre clearing, where nothing seems to grow. Animals walk around rather than across it, and even some humans are pretty reluctant to stay there for too long.
There are many legends associated with this place. Some believe that two rival Native American tribes battled one another and that so much blood was spilled, that the soil was unsuitable for growing anything from that day on. Others say that the Devil himself likes to come up each night and dance around the clearing, while another theory is that a UFO landed there, scorching the ground permanently.
Whatever the cause, there’s no doubt that it’s a sinister place. Visitors have experienced all sorts of strange phenomena, from having their belongings thrown forcibly from the clearing by unseen forces to red eyes watching them at night.
Isla de Las Munecas, Mexico
If you’ve got a doll phobia, you might want to skip this one. The Isa de Las Munecas in Mexico is like something out of a horror movie and is inhabited by literally hundreds of broken, dirty, and downright terrifying dolls.
Probably the burning question on your lips is—why? What reason would people have to hang dolls all over this tiny island? Well, the story dates back to the 1950s, and it’s macabre, to say the least. A local man called Julian Santana decided to leave his family and settle on the island, though when he arrived, he encountered a grisly surprise. He discovered the corpse of a young girl lying face-down in the water, and to honor her, he hung a doll in the tree closest to where he’d found her.
So far, so touching, right? Well, Julian developed an unhealthy obsession with the dead girl. He went looking for more dolls to hang around the island, claiming that they appeased her restless spirit. Because he pulled many of the dolls from rubbish tips, they were often broken, discolored or decomposing; and he never replaced them once he’d hung them up.
In 2001, Julian was discovered, lying face down in the water where the girl had been found five decades previously. Even more eerily, his family claimed that the girl had never existed; she’d been a figment of the man’s tortured imagination.
Ballyboley Forest, Northern Ireland
In 2016, Ballyboley Forest hit the headlines because hundreds of people attended a mass rave there. Most were high on drugs, and some didn’t even know what country they were in. Doesn’t seem so frightening, does it? Well, Ballyboley Forest seems to have a knack for making people forget themselves, and occasionally for making people disappear too.
Its origins are unknown, though it’s been suggested (because of the stone arrangements within it) that it was once a Druid site. Some have gone even further, saying that the forest contains the entrance to a Celtic underworld. Locals will also tell you that a staggering amount of people were lost in the forest from the 1400s to the 1600s, with no explanation as to where they went.
In 1997, two men were walking in Ballyboley Forest when they heard a scream. The brave guys went searching for the person who’d screamed but found no-one. Instead, they discovered a tree, covered with blood. Sensibly, the men ran away, but not before they’d taken a glance over their shoulder to see four figures with hoods over their heads, standing and watching them. Now that’s a spooky notion!
Pine Barrens, US
This list wouldn’t be complete without the home of the Jersey Devil on it. The Pines Barrens is an enormous stretch of forest, covering over one million acres in total. Over the years, there have been repeated sightings of a lizard-like, flying creature—and that’s what makes this place so freaky.
According to legend, back in 1735 a local woman called Mother Leeds gave birth to 12 children. When it came to her 13th, she apparently threw her hands to the skies and said ‘let this one be a Devil’. Her requests were answered, and she gave birth to a terrifying monster with a goat’s head and feet, bat-like wings, and a forked tail. It duly killed the midwife attending the birth, then swooped off through the forest.
Sounds like absolute rubbish, doesn’t it? Well, the interesting thing is that lots of quite reputable people have claimed to see it. The most talked-about incident was in 1909. Reports started coming in of odd tracks in the snow, which led through people’s gardens, fields and even across rooftops. Dogs refused to follow the tracks, and eyewitnesses reported seeing a creature with wings, which some described as looking like a flying kangaroo. One hapless woman discovered the Jersey Devil trying to eat her dog and beat it away with a broom.
Mass hysteria or was there something in it? Well, the sightings keep occurring… so who knows?
About the Creator
Hello! I'm an experienced copywriter, published author (The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost) and all-round film buff and music obsessive. If it's weird, you can guarantee I'll like it. Website: www.lucy-banks.co.uk
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