45 Creepy Forests You’d Better Not Walk In At Night
No wonder so many haunted forests and creepy locations found in the wilderness often become the typical setting of many horror movies. Blame it on the Brothers Grimm's fairy tales or legends of the Blair Witch, but forests have always had that mysterious, eerie, even creepy feel to them. In fairy tales heard in childhood, forests have always been the homes of evil witches, wraiths, ravenous wolves, and other dangerous predators.
Many of us learned the lesson in Little Red Riding Hood and grew up fearing creepy forests and the dangers lurking in the woods. Yet, even now, all grown up, very few would be willing to step foot into a creepy forest at night as safety and self-defense instincts would kick in. However, scary forests don't only exist in fairy tales, myths, and in our imaginations. While any forest could be deemed creepy at night, numerous spooky forests worldwide fill us with fear no matter the time of the day.
Some forests are known for their eerie trunk appearance. Others are shrouded in mysterious legends or carry a disturbing history. And in some, people report feeling a ghostly presence or hearing and seeing paranormal phenomena. Below, we've compiled a list of such forests that ignite fear in many. What is your depiction of a creepy forest? Would you dare to step foot into any of the woods below? Let us know! Also, upvote the scary forest that spooked you the most!
The Island Of The Dolls, Xochimilco, Mexico
Isla de las Munecas, or the Island of the Dolls, in Xochimilco, has gained some internet renown despite being a World Heritage site. The location, obscured by the area's numerous canals, is well-known for the hundreds of dolls - and doll parts - hanging from trees and dispersed over the grass. The chinampa, akin to an artificial island, was once home to Julian Santa Barrera, who is now deceased. According to National Geographic, Barrera gathered and displayed the toys to fend off evil spirits after discovering a deceased girl's body in a nearby canal. The drowned girl's soul is thought to still haunt the island today. According to local lore, dolls have been seen moving their heads and arms, opening their eyes, and whispering to one another.
Hoia-Baciu Forest, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Hoia Baciu Forest, located close to the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca, is frequently linked to paranormal phenomena and is known as the "Bermuda Triangle" of Romania. Thousands of people claim to have experienced various mysterious symptoms after entering, ranging from headache to nausea. It's unknown if this is due to suggestion or actual unfathomable causes. Furthermore, several reports of paranormal activity, inexplicable occurrences, and UFO encounters were documented. Another 'fun' fact about the Hoia Baciu Forest is that there's a perfect circle inside the forest in which no trees or plants grow.
The Lady In The Woods, Kent, England
The mysterious wood carving at Otterden, Kent, holds a world of mystery in its perplexing visage. Nearly nine feet tall and carved from a single piece of oak, this expressionistic wooden sculpture of a pregnant lady is a startling discovery for hikers. A fog of mystery surrounds the artwork, which is left standing by itself just off a public footpath. No one knows who the artist was or how long the wooden lady has been here.
Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Yosemite National Park is well-known for its magnificent waterfalls and enormous sequoia groves. Still, there are also parts of the park that could cause you to experience different kinds of goosebumps. For instance, some guests who have trekked the Chilnualna Falls Trailhead have clearly heard someone crying. According to Native American folklore, the cries are from a kid who drowned in neighboring Grouse Lake. Apparently, the ghost is asking for help, but any hikers who enter the lake will be sucked under and drown. Another Native American myth holds that a wind of evil haunts some of the park's waterfalls, luring unsuspecting bystanders to the brink before sweeping them off the cliff.
Epping Forest, Essex, England
The 6,000-acre Epping Forest, which stretches from east London to Essex, has served as the backdrop for real and debatably real atrocities. It has long served as the hiding place for criminals or a location to bury their slain victims. Sadly, approximately a dozen victims have been found here in the past 50 years. An infamous highwayman named Dick Turbin was responsible for at least one homicide in the forest itself. As a result of laws protecting the area, many of the trees here haven’t been cut in almost 150 years, giving them oddly distorted shapes. This is one hair-raising trip through the woods, especially considering the reported eerie sounds and ghost sightings.
Highgate Cemetery, London, U.K.
Karl Marx and Douglas Adams are among the famous people buried in this beautiful and verdant north London park, which served as Kingstead Churchyard in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Even though it is still one of London's least visited attractions, those who enter its gates do so in search of famous gravestones and ghostly encounters. The eerie site was built in the middle of the 1800s but was soon abandoned and uncared for after the end of World War II. Then, in the 1970s, Highgate rose in popularity due to being used as a background for several horror films. Many visitors reported seeing a strange creature hovering over the graves, and reports of grave robbery started to surface in the headlines. The so-called vampire hunters would steal the corpses and move them to odd locations or open tombs to hammer wooden stakes into the corpses' chests.
Constitution Lakes Park, Georgia, USA
Constitution Lakes Park in Atlanta is a distinctive natural refuge with wetlands, wildlife, and creepy art. Before it closed 50 years ago, a brick company had previously stood there. After purchasing the property, DeKalb County paved boardwalks and trails around the ponds. "Doll's Head" trail path, the most famous of the tracks, is located in the center of the park and is lined with abandoned doll parts, bricks, and other items found all over the park.
Aokigahara Forest, Japan
The forest, also known as Suicide Forest or the Sea of Trees, is unfortunately well-known due to many souls not intending to return, having chosen it as their ultimate resting place. Despite being a popular tourist site because of its many cold caverns and peaceful pathways, its reputation is primarily based on macabre factors. The police set up several signs throughout the forest with messages like, “Your life is a precious gift from your parents,” and “Please consult the police before you decide to die!” to persuade people to change their minds. Unfortunately, they are not as effective if we consider that the Golden Gate Bridge is the most "popular" suicide spot in the world, while the Aokigahara Forest is the second and first in Japan.
Parkland Walk, London, U.K.
Following the trail of an old metro line, this scenic path in London harbors a sinister feel to it. Old brick stands forth like some abandoned fort while gnarled trees sag overhead. The enigmatic trail has been the subject of local tales, with kids daring one another to walk along it in the dark. One local artist even went so far as to put a creepy-looking statue of a spriggan, or wood spirit, emerging from one of the old station alcoves, adding to the eerie atmosphere.
The Black Forest, Germany
Several legends associated with these dense, gloomy woods served as the setting for the frightening Grimm Brothers' fairytales like Hansel and Gretel. In addition to headless horsemen, nymphs that live underwater, and werewolves, Germany's Schwarzwald has served as the fictional setting for various fantastical tales. These are honored at the region's distinctive Carnival celebrations, where participants dress as terrifying creatures and demons.
Even today, there are still rumors of Druids lurking in the Ballyboley Forest. These rumors are sometimes accompanied by reports of encounters with four spectral figures in robes who are thought to be the ghosts of deceased Druids. These figures are often spotted watching visitors, their faces always hidden by their hoods, before disappearing into thin air. They are also rumored to appear at night with ethereal torches while circling campsites before disappearing into nothingness. The screams of long-dead humans and animals that are supposed to sound like an "abattoir" can sometimes be heard coming from stone altars with smoke rising from them but no fire.
Blairadam Forest, Scotland
The Blairadam Forest, which once housed a coal mine and a mining town in Victorian times, is another eerie copse in Scotland. Visitors to these woodlands have reported weird happenings, including feeling irrationally upset or noticing their dogs becoming frightened. In 2018, the Wilson family went for a hike and picnic in the forest. But when they returned and looked at the pictures they had taken, they were stunned. In the photos, they clearly saw a sinister-appearing Victorian-clothed figure hiding among the trees.
The Hippie Tree, Traverse City, Michigan
The Hippie Tree is located deep in the woods outside an old state-run asylum. It has earned its moniker because of its role in local legend. Apparently, it's believed that the restless ghosts of asylum patients - and the madness that tormented them - haunt the tree. Visionaries, mystics, and other spiritual people (referred to as hippies by the locals) would congregate beneath the tree to meditate, after which they would paint the results of their enlightenment on the tree's branches. The tree is rumored to be haunted by several ghosts, and reports of paranormal experiences are rather frequent. It is also believed that a portal to hell will open beneath the tree's roots if one goes around it a certain way.
Devil’s Tramping Ground, North Carolina, USA
There is a mystical circle area in the North Carolina woods where no flora grows, and no animals are said to pass through it. According to local lore, this circle region is said to be the “devil’s stomping ground,” where it comes to dance every night. Locals are familiar with the region well, and many have witnessed odd activities near the circle. Some claim they have placed goods in the circle overnight just to discover that they have been thrown out of the circle the next day.
Robinson Woods, Illinois, USA
Along with his family, Alexander Robinson, a Pottawatomies, Ottawa, and Chippewa chief born in Chee-chee-pin-quay, is buried in these woods. While groups of deer occasionally circle tourists during the day for no apparent reason, orbs of light, supposed to represent the souls of the Robinson family, appear at night. People who live close to the graves report smelling lilacs in the winter.
Doon Hill, Scotland
The Doon Hill, located in Scotland's Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, is well-known for its "Fairy Tree," a lone Scotch pine tucked among a sea of oaks. However, Doon Hill is as mysterious as it is magical. When Reverend Robert Kirk took over as the community's priest in 1685, he was particularly enamored by the serene location. He frequently went to Doon Hill and recorded what he learned about the fairy folk. His perished body was discovered on Doon Hill. The fairies had been angered, or perhaps the reverend had learned too much. Some claim that they kidnapped him and took him to be their queen's chaplain while leaving a changeling body behind for people to bury. Others believe that his ghost is confined in the large pine at the top of the hill and serves as a go-between for people who come to Doon Hill to make their wishes come true.
Aldridge Sawmill, Zavalla, Texas, USA
By 1920, after several fires, the once lively township seemingly had all but disappeared, and the Angelina National Forest gradually reclaimed it. Visitors can currently observe the ruins of four concrete structures and the mill pond that supplied water to the boilers used in the sawmill.
Long Trail, Bennington, Vermont, USA
Paula Jean Welden, a student at Bennington College, is thought to have vanished on this 272-mile hiking trek on December 1, 1946. She wasn't the only one, though. Between 1945 and 1950, four more people disappeared there, but only one body was discovered. Even today, many claim that the trail has a "weird haunting energy." The disappearance of Welden ranks among the 16 most bizarre mysteries in history.
Elfin Forest, California, USA
Even though it is located in San Diego County, just southwest of Escondido, the town of Elfin Forest sounds like it belongs in Tolkien's realm. How appropriate, therefore, that it is rife with fanciful tales, myths, and tales of ghosts and goblins. According to legend, Elfin Forest was once home to Romani people until local townspeople forced them out and massacred any who remained. They allegedly sought revenge by cursing the forest and the areas around it. People have reported seeing a variety of scary apparitions nowadays, including a hovering white woman, a mantled spirit astride a black stallion, and mysterious footsteps.
Dow Hill Forest, India
These dark, mist-covered woodlands are alleged to have been the scene of numerous homicides. According to reports, those who enter the forest feel like they are being watched. Some have even reportedly seen a red eye staring at them and caught a quick glimpse of a ghost wearing an ash-colored garment. The most frequently reported legend involves a headless child making his way from the forest down “Death Road” to the Dow Hill Victoria Boys’ School, which itself is regarded as one of India’s most haunted places.
The Smolensk Forest, Russia
The Smolensk forest in Russia is where the Katyn massacre occurred. During World War II, the German troops discovered a mass grave containing 20,000 Polish troops and military leaders slain covertly by Joseph Stalin's army. Just over ten years ago, on 10 April 2010, a plane carrying Poland's highest political figures, including the president of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, his wife Maria, and the former president of Poland in exile, Ryszard Kaczorowski, crashed here, killing all 96 people on board. Thus, many Polish people believe that this piece of land is cursed.
Pembrey Woods, Wales
The claims and sightings of a cursed pilot, ghostly cries from the shore and sand dunes past these frightening woods, and numerous local reports and sightings over the years make them impossible to ignore. The area is also famous for the "little hatchet men of Pembrey," who would use their lamps to entice sailors to a coastline full of hazardous rocks, where they would wreck the ships. After killing the survivors, the small hatchet guys would take anything of worth. Ghost ships with dead sailors on board, the little hatchet men and the cursed spirit of a second world war airman have all been allegedly spotted roaming the woodland, dunes, and beach.
Ghost Forest Of Copalis, Copalis Crossing, Washington, USA
A grove of dead trees known as the Copalis Ghost Forest was created by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that shook the Washington Coast in 1700. As a result of the earthquake, the soil instantly sank up to 6 feet in elevation, and saltwater flooded the forest.
Šalinac Grove, Šalinac, Serbia
A rare gem in the Balkans, the Šalinac Grove is a protected area of old-growth forest. The trees are the last remaining of the vast oak and ash forests that originally covered the area. The remaining woodland was destroyed by deforestation.
Dering Wood, Pluckley, England
The Dering Woods, sometimes known as "the Screaming Woods," are an excellent location for your upcoming family camping trip. We are kidding. They’re not. Visitors to the forest have described hearing footsteps and whispers on misty days and spine-tingling screams coming from the forest's depths at night. The highwayman captured and executed by locals in the 18th century, whose ghost supposedly still harbors quite a grudge, is commonly blamed for the screaming sounds. Others think the apparitions resulted from a massacre in 1948 when 20 individuals were allegedly found deceased in the woodland on November 1st. Locals claimed to have seen unusual lights from the woods on that Halloween night. Still, an autopsy on the bodies revealed no apparent cause of demise.
Randolph Forest, Maine, USA
Randolph Forest, located in Maine, USA, is surrounded by houses and is known throughout the community as being haunted. Orbs have been sighted, and there have been reports of flashes of light and unusual ambient noises. Abandoned automobiles and ripped-up railroad tracks that previously led veterans to a hospital but are now covered with grass add to the eerie atmosphere. While the forest may look harmless in daylight, it turns sinister at night.
Piha Coast And Forests – Waitakere Ranges National Park, New Zealand
Not often are haunting events or haunted woodlands associated with New Zealand. But there have been other strange and eerie disappearances in this small forest area, giving it a troubling past. Six people have gone missing from this area since 1992. All in the same bizarre way. Piha has suffered many losses due to riptides and strong currents throughout the years. However, almost every time, those pulled out to sea return to Piha Beach or a little further down. What adds to the unsettling character of the disappearances in Piha is that the six missing individuals in question simply vanished without a trace, leaving no indication of what happened or where they went.
Yawata No Yabushirazu, Ichikawa, Japan
One of Japan’s most haunted locations is said to be the bamboo forest of Yawata no Yabushirazu (sometimes just called Yawata), which is located less than 30 minutes from central Tokyo. The myths of Yawata are founded on the idea that anyone who enters the forest gets whisked away and is never seen again. Various hypotheses on the mysterious origins of the forest’s eerie aspect circulate, ranging from samurai ghosts to poisonous gas. Whatever the case, the villagers take these rumors seriously because Yawata is currently enclosed by a fence, making entry restricted.
Pokaini Forest, Naudītes Pagasts, Latvia
At first glance, Pokaini Forest doesn’t seem particularly strange. That is until you see the enigmatic piles of moss-covered rocks. These mounds are dispersed randomly around the forest, rousing many rumors and urban legends among tourists. Some believe that the forest was once the scene of ancient pagan rituals and that it now possesses a mystic power to heal people. Some tourists even make offerings to the stones to strengthen their magical abilities. Locals warn that stealing a rock will result in bad luck, as there are reports of people experiencing harm and even passing away soon after leaving the woods.
Gespensterwald (Ghost Forest), Nienhagen, Germany
Locals refer to the 180-hectare mixed forest known as the Nienhäger Holz simply as the Ghost forest. Over many years, the wind and the salty, damp sea air gave the forest its unique appearance. The oddly shaped deciduous trees are what make the coastal forest so distinctive.
Dancing Forest, Rybachiy, Russia
It still remains a mystery why dozens of trees in this forest in Russia have trunks bent into rings, spirals, and other loops and squiggles. The trees were planted in the early 1960s to stabilize the dune sand; thus, some speculate that the unstable sand is why the trees appear so distorted. Among locals, the crooked forest is known as the Drunken Forest.
Freetown-Fall River State Forest, Massachusetts, USA
This 200 square mile area in southeast Massachusetts, a part of the "Bridgewater Triangle," is plagued by paranormal activity, with layers upon layers of intrigue. It was inhabited by Native Americans who unwillingly sold it in the 1600s and left behind numerous burial places. It is also believed to be the scene of satanic murders in the 1970s and '80s. To this day, the forest continues to serve as the setting for paranormal sightings and reports about UFOs, poltergeists, or fireballs.
Wistman’s Wood, U.K.
It's unsurprising that many paranormal stories have been associated with the forest, given its almost esoteric, out-of-this-world appearance. Wistman's Wood has been named "the most haunted place in England's Dartmoor National Park" thanks to ancient tales of druids, hellhounds, ghosts, and other supernatural creatures. The wood has been the subject of many ghost stories and hauntings, but the druid and hellhound myths are the most common. The subjects of many legends are the vicious packs of "Wisht Hounds," enormous red-eyed black hounds that feed on blood.
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, USA
Many legends involve ghostly encounters, disappearances, and mythical creatures in the Crater Lake National Park. Some of the strange activities reported by forest rangers include following a smelly, eerie monster through the woods until it began hurling pinecones at them. Or the countless reports of campfires in deserted forest locations where there were no signs of any people.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
Yellowstone, the country's first national park, is renowned for its wildlife and numerous hot springs. But it is also the scene of multiple fatalities. Thus it makes sense that the park is believed to be haunted. Although it's thought that the Old Faithful Inn's most well-known legends were made up by staff members to attract visitors, some of the events reported have been confirmed by actual witnesses. Someone reported seeing a headless bride wander the Inn at odd hours, and some also said that Room 2 is home to ghosts that sometimes appear floating at the foot of the mattress. Then there are the countless cries of people who drowned in the hot springs, which can be heard all around the park.
The Red Forest, Ukraine
The area of 4 square miles encircling the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant is referred to as the Red Forest (formerly known as the Worm Wood Forest). The pine forest surrounding the station changed to a ginger-brown tint. It died from the horrific nuclear accident in 1986, resulting from a flawed reactor design operated by poorly trained personnel. Sadly, this forest is among the most polluted areas on earth.
Belanglo State Forest, Australia
The Belanglo State Forest is notorious for its dark past and already has a frightening appearance with its endless rows of radiata pine trees. Most notoriously, it is recognized as the location where serial killer Ivan Milat buried at least seven deceased travelers in the 1980s and 1990s in a case that shook Australia. In 2010, three teenagers (one being Milat's great-nephew Matthew) were arrested on suspicion of connection with the discovery of a murdered male in the forest. The park's entrance is marked with a sign asking visitors to "please be careful." According to detectives who worked on the Milat murders, there is "pure evil" in Belanglo State Forest.
Pine Barrens, New Jersey, USA
Despite having sandy, acidic, and nutrient-poor forest ground, New Jersey's vast Pine Barrens are home to abundant plant life, including pine trees that rely on forest fires to survive. The region began to be occupied by outcasts of various kinds in the 18th century. Over time, its occupants appeared to practically cultivate a "hillbilly"-like backwardness, which some people think is done to keep outsiders out. The "Jersey Devil" is undoubtedly the most well-known inhabitant of the Pine Barrens. The creature born in 1735 to Deborah Leeds - her thirteenth child - with a goat's head, bat's wings, and cloven hooks is one legend that sprang from the Pine Barrens.
Angelina National Forest, Tennessee, USA
A flourishing sawmill town with over 1,000 residents formerly stood in the Angelina National Forest. Sadly, the mill served as a catastrophe beacon after being damaged by a cyclone in 1911 and a fire in 1914. Soon after, the locals left, leaving a small ghost town in their wake. The abandoned location is unsettling in and of itself, but the paranormal rumor aspect raises the spookiness level a notch. A young woman who used to live in the town and was slain in a freak accident while visiting her boyfriend at the sawmill has allegedly been heard screaming by hikers. Even her spirit has been seen by a few people strolling around the abandoned mill.
The Forest Of Broceliande, France
This forest in northern France is thought to have a mysterious aura to it, according to various Celtic lore from the Middle Ages. Some people believe these exact woods are described in the King Arthur legends. The wizard Merlin is said to be buried at a mysterious place known as the Tomb of Merlin after spending a short time imprisoned in an invisible tower. The Val Sans Retour, also known as the Valley of No Return, is another location where Morgan le Fay, King Arthur's witch half-sister, captured and imprisoned young knights for disloyalty.
Tawau Hills Park, Malaysia
Tourists from around the globe flock to this forest park in Tawau, Sabah, which is home to the yellow meranti, the tallest tree in the world. However, only during the daytime, as locals think that the forest is haunted by the spirits that lurk there and only emerge at night. Many people are believed to have vanished there, particularly close to its well-known Table waterfall.
Old House Woods, Virginia, USA
The spirits of 18th-century British troops and pirates who formerly passed through the nearby historic port town of Mathews and may have left hidden chests of gold in its soft mud now find refuge in this forest in Virginia. A single abandoned Colonial homestead that had burned down was located in the middle of the woods, hence the name of the forest. In the 19th century, one fisherman claimed to have witnessed a ship silently cruising the creek before proceeding over the beach and disappearing into the woods.
Wychwood, Oxfordshire, U.K.
A hand reaching out to touch a lonely person's shoulder or a family with two crying children being transported on a horse-drawn cart are just a few reports from Wychwood Forest. However, the case of Amy Robsart, the wife of the Earl of Leicester, is perhaps the most striking one. Apparently, Amy unexpectedly passed away from a broken neck, visited her husband at Wychwood as a ghost, and predicted that he would join her in ten days. And he did after falling severely ill. Anyone who encounters her is believed to suffer a similar and brisk fate.
Great Wood, Bickling, U.K.
It's said that sometimes headless Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII, can be seen wandering the Great Wood in Bickling. She allegedly manifests herself on May 19, the anniversary of her execution. However, the atrocities committed by King Henry VIII also affected Anne's brother. People report that sometimes he can be seen gliding on the forest grounds. Given its troubled past, no wonder many believe the area is haunted.
Frith Wood, U.K.
The Greenlaw House, located next to Frith Wood, was transformed into barracks for French war captives at the beginning of the 19th century. According to legend, a woman had a crush on a captive who was later murdered by her father and brother. Soon after her lover's demise, she passed away, possibly by her own hand. Some claim that when her ghost visits the scene of her lover's murder, she sobs, while others claim that she scurries furiously through the woods.