There’s something so intrinsically forbidding about a dark forest. It’s the deep unknown that can unsettle us and make our minds race. From disembodied cries in the night to a headless statue that bleeds, join us as we explore 5 of the most haunted forests in the world.
5. Pinewoods Cemetery, New York
This abandoned cemetery in Brunswick, New York is the centre of many urban legends.
Established in 1897 by a group of wealthy businessman it was intended to be a place of respite for urban dwellers, featuring a large forest expanse and winding trails. Due to financial difficulty the grounds went into disrepair becoming completely abandoned by 1975.
Known by locals as the ‘gateway to hell’, many say they’ve felt unusual cold spots, heard children laughing in the shadows and felt something push them in the back. Deep in the forest there is a headless angel statue that some say bleeds from the neck during the night.
A taxi cab driver from the nearby town of Troy told local historian Judy Rowe that one night he picked up a young girl in a party dress out the front of the Emma Willard School. She asked to be driven down Pinewoods Avenue but as they drove past the cemetery she vanished without a trace.
4. Screaming Woods, Pluckley
Pluckley has the honour of being known as one of the most haunted villages in England. Located in the Ashford district of Kent, this town has a reported 15 ghosts that haunt various parts of the village. One such place is Derring Woods, also known as the Screaming Woods, named so because of the terrifying screams that are often heard by people passing by.
A famous ghost reported to haunt the woods is that of a highway man that was killed by police in the 18th century. Legends say that a ghostly re-enactment takes place on still nights when you can see the highwayman getting pinned by a sword to a giant oak tree – his tormented screams filling the forest for all to hear.
Here’s an image taken by a Pluckley resident. They claim it’s a ghost wandering the Screaming Woods:
3. Wychwood Forest, England
Located in rural Oxfordshire, this dark forest is known for many mysterious happenings. Locals have reported being touched or pushed by unknown forces. There are reports of whispers and screams and children crying, all coming from thin air. Some tourists have said they’ve felt nauseous the further they go into the woods. Others have heard the wild neighing of horses and claim to have seen a ghostly horse drawn cart with two small children crying in the back.
Deep in the forest is a tree that supposedly creates feelings of dread for those who visit. Thought to be a ‘hanging tree’ where criminals met their end, there’s been a reported shadowy figure lurking around the area. People say they feel like they’re being watched or followed whenever they’re near this particular tree. Locals warn all tourists not to go into the woods alone.
2. Aokigahara, Japan
Known as the sea of trees or suicide forest this is one of the world’s most popular destinations for suicide.
Located along the northwest base of Mt. Fuji, this dense forest is full of gnarled trees and rocky caverns. There is a striking lack of wildlife, making the forest floor eerily quiet. Some sections have been known to be pitch-black even at midday due to thick, overhanging vegetation. Hiking equipment such as compasses and some GPS have been known to spin out of control due to the high mineral content in the volcanic soil.
It is here in this dark forbidding maze that many come to die. Aokigahara has a notoriously high suicide rate and is often associated with ‘yurei’ a term Japanese mythology uses to describe angry spirits of the dead.
Those visiting the park are confronted by many signs placed by the Japanese government urging suicidal visitors to contact a local suicide prevention association.
Since 1970 annual body searches have been conducted to find those who have taken their own lives. Statistically around 30 bodies are found every year, with a record high of 105 bodies found in 2003. The most common form of suicide is hanging or drug overdose. Many attribute the disturbing trend to Seichō Matsumoto’s 1960 novel Kuroi Jukai (Black Sea of Trees), in which two lovers take their own lives in the forest. However, cases of suicide were reported long before the novel’s publication.
Legends tell of a disturbing practice taking place in the forest well into the 19th century. Known as ‘ubasute’ or ‘abandoning a parent’, locals would lead their elderly parents into the woods where they would die a slow death by exposure and starvation. Practiced as a form of euthanasia in times of drought and famine, it was seen as a way to free up resources by reducing the population. Though many historians doubt the ritual was ever practiced en masse.
Many tourists now visit the site with hopes of encountering the paranormal or discovering human remains. Some claim they’ve seen faces in the shadows while others say they’ve heard tormented screams of spirits left to wander the forest floor. Whatever it is they’re looking for, it appears as though this ancient forest is calling out to people, drawing them in, never to return.
1. Hoia Baciu Woods, Romania
Known as the most haunted forest in the world, this bizarre location is thought to be a gateway to another dimension.
Located west of the city of Cluj-Napoca, this haunted forest is home to a whole host of paranormal sightings including glowing orbs, disembodied crying, UFO sightings, time loss and poltergeist attacks. Locals say that as soon as they enter the forest they feel unusually anxious and experience feelings of nausea. Many have reported being scratched, pushed and choked while walking in the woods.
The forest itself is deformed with its trees bending in all sorts of unusual shapes. GPS equipment and compasses often stop working causing many people to become disorientated.
The area gained international notoriety in 1960 when biologist Alexandru Sift took several photographs of a strange object hovering in the sky. Then in 1968, military technician Emil Barnea also took some startling images of what he claims is a flying saucer. From there dozens of UFO sightings were reported well into the 70’s.
Many believe the sight is a gateway to another world. Villagers often report a loss of time while walking through Hoia-Baciu. One famous story surrounds a 5 year-old girl who went missing after walking into the forest. The tale says she emerged some 5 years later wearing the exact same clothes in pristine condition. She had no memory of what had happened and could not account for the huge loss of time.
The majority of paranormal activity seems to occur around a strange clearing deep in the forest. Known as the ‘dead zone’, nothing grows in this almost perfect circle. Scientists have done tests on the soil but have found no conclusive evidence as to why nothing grows here. It is in this ‘dead zone’ that many people have reported strange sightings of shadowy figures, glowing orbs, felt uncontrollable emotions and heard chilling screams or crying. It is thought that this is the site of murdered Romanian peasants, whose souls are now trapped, forced to wander eternally through the twisted forest of Hoia-Baciu.
So there’s our top 5 look at the most haunted forests in the world. Did this listicle inspire you to visit any of these creepy forests or do you just need a fresh pair of pantaloons? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook.