10 haunted forests around the world that will give you the chills

By Sarah Schmalbruch, INSIDER

Forests are creepy enough in their own right.

Add some urban legends about murder victims who now roam the forest as ghosts, and you'll never want to wander through one again.

We rounded up 10 forests around the world that are thought to be haunted.

Aokigahara Forest, Japan

A bench in Aokigahara Forest.
Sitting on the northwestern side of Mount Fuji, Aokigahara Forest (more commonly known as "Suicide Forest") is the definition of tragic beauty. Sometimes referred to as the Sea of Trees, it has been the site of numerous suicides, dating all the way back to the mid 1900s.

In fact, a sign at the forest's entrance reminds visitors that "life is a precious gift" and to reach out if they are struggling.

The reason for its reputation could have something to do with the fact that Japanese mythology has long associated the forest with demons. Plus, the tightly packed trees make it easy to get lost and even hear, providing an exceptionally isolated destination.

Spiritualists in the country say Aokigahara is a hotbed of paranormal activity. But even if you don't believe in ghosts, you're likely to get spooked by the everyday items that litter the forest floor.

Isla de las Munecas, Mexico

The Island of Dolls.
As if forests weren't scary enough on their own, this one located along the canals of Xochimico, near Mexico City, is covered in dolls that hang from the trees. Local legend has it that the island's caretaker hung the first doll to honor a little girl that he had found drowned on the island (the doll was thought to be hers).

The caretaker then felt as if he was being haunted by the girl's spirit, so he continued to string up dolls in hopes of appeasing her. Fifty years and plenty of dolls later, he reportedly drowned in the same spot the girl did.

Today, the island has become a popular tourist destination. Visitors claim that the dolls move their eyes, heads, and limbs, and that they're possessed by spirits.

Hoia Baciu Forest, Romania

Hoia Baciu.
It seems fitting that a haunted forest in Romania would be located near the unofficial capital of the country's Transylvania region — Cluj-Napoca. Hoia Baciu was first recognized for being haunted when a military technician photographed what he claimed was a UFO that appeared in a part of the forest known as "the clearing" in 1968.

The clearing has stumped visitors, locals, and even scientists for decades. It's a spot where nothing grows and nothing has ever grown, according to official records. What's even weirder though, is that the trees that do grow in the forest grow in odd patterns— zig zags and spirals that no one has ever been able to explain.

Brave tourists can tour the forest at night, though many have reported feeling an odd sense of anxiety or nausea, or the feeling of being watched.

The Black Forest, Germany

A village in the Black Forest.
The name of this forest already sounds ominous, but the Brothers Grimm solidified its haunted reputation by using it as the setting for many of their fairy tales, like Hansel and Gretel.

Nestled in southwestern Germany and bordered by the Rhine River, the Black Forest's tall evergreens are as beautiful as they are sinister, and said to be home to paranormal creatures ranging from witches to werewolves.

The region is known for the unique way in which its people celebrate carnival — by dressing up like witches, demons, and scary spirits and animals.

Devil's Tramping Ground, North Carolina

Devil's Tramping Ground.
The name says it all — this mysterious, round patch of barren soil lays in the midst of a forest, but no kind of vegetation will grow there. According to a legend that dates back to when Chatham County (where the forest is located) was founded, this circle is where the devil comes out at night to do his pacing and thinking. It's for that reason that nothing will grow there.

Rumors claim that no human has ever been able to spend the night at the grounds, and that even dogs act scared when they come across it. Other theories have been put forth, from a UFO landing to the claim that the grounds are the site of a "Magdalene crystal column of energy."

Wychwood Forest, England

Wychwood Forest.
Although there's no one historic event that confirms the fact that Wychwood is haunted, those who have stepped inside the former royal hunting ground have claimed to see some pretty hair-raising stuff, from the apparitions of crying children in a horse-drawn carriage to the touch of a random hand.

Then there's the story of the ghost of Amy Robsart, the wife of the Earl of Leicester. After Amy mysteriously died of a broken neck, her husband is said to have come across her ghost while hunting in the forest. The ghost told him that he would be dead within 10 days — and he was. Now, legend has it that her ghost has the same effect on all who come across it in the forest to this day.

Elfin Forest, California

Elfin Forest.
Some call this forest one of the most haunted regions in California. Located in Escondido, near San Diego, the forest is believed to have once been home to Native American tribes, as evidenced by a number of artifacts that have been found there. It was also the sight of a now-abandoned insane asylum.

But the most common story you'll hear about the forest goes something like this: gypsies living there in the early 1800s were chased out and even murdered by townspeople, causing the remaining gypsies to curse the forest. Ever since then, hikers and visitors have reported sightings of a ghostly woman in a white dress, bleeding trees, and a spirit riding a horse.

Dow Hill Forest, India

Dow Hill Forest.
Dow Hill Forest surrounds the Dow Hills Victoria Boys' School, which just happens to be one of the most haunted places in India. While the school's hallways are said to be filled with the sound of footsteps even when it's closed for vacation, the forest is even creepier. Rumor has it that it has seen multiple murders, and woodcutters have reported sightings of a decapitated boy walking along Death Road, the path that stretches between the school and forest.

Pine Barrens, New Jersey

Pine Barrens.
Pine Barrens spans seven counties and contains ghost stories galore. During the colonial era, the area was bustling with sawmills, paper mills, and towns to accompany them, but they were all abandoned when coal was discovered in Pennsylvania, leaving eerie ghost towns in their wake.

The forest is also said to be home to the infamous Jersey Devil, a beast that the Pinelands Preservation Alliance describes as "a kangaroo-like creature with the face of a horse, the head of a dog, bat-like wings, horns and a tail." According to folklore, it was the 13th child of a woman named Deborah Leeds, who offered it to the devil while pregnant with it in 1735. Upon its birth, the newborn sprouted talons, hooves, and wings, and killed its mother, siblings, and the midwife before disappearing. Sightings persist today, as it continues to terrorize livestock (and humans).

Epping Forest, England

Epping Forest.
Epping Forest is probably best known as the site of at least one of the murders committed by highwayman Dick Turpin back in the 18th century. The expansive forest, which stretches for over nine square miles, is covered with thick trees that haven't been cut in over 100 years, due to the Epping Forest Act of 1878.

If the trees aren't enough to spook you, chances are the ghosts, spirits, or muffled drum noises of deceased soldiers that visitors have reported will do the trick. Plus, cars parked on nearby Hangman's Hill are said to roll uphill when parked in neutral.

See more at: INSIDER

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Travel Magazine: 10 haunted forests around the world that will give you the chills
10 haunted forests around the world that will give you the chills
Forests are creepy enough in their own right. Add some scary urban legends, and you'll never want to set foot in one again. We rounded up 10 forests around the world that are said to be haunted, from the Sea of Trees in Japan to Hoia Baciu Forest in Romania.
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