No matter what your beliefs or specific phobias are, walking through the woods at dusk probably fills you with unease. It's not that the trees themselves are frightening...but the undergrowth could be hiding something more ferocious or creepy than you ever imagined.
These seven locations are reportedly some of the most haunted woods in the world. Even if you don't believe in ghosts, it's best not to venture near them at night without a flashlight (or a large hunting party with pitchforks and torches).
1. Pembrey Woods isn't in the cute part of Wales.
There have been humans in these woods since about 400 B.C., but that's not the main reason people know of it. The legend of the "little hatchet men of Pembrey" is what makes this forest so interesting (and haunted). The hatchet men allegedly lured ships with their lanterns close to the coastline, which would make the ships crash on the rocks. The hatchet men would then visit the shipwreck, slaughter the survivors, and loot the vessel. Throughout history there have been ghostly sightings in these woods, most likely a result of countless innocent sailors being cut down nearby.
2. Don't picnic in the Screaming Woods.
The Screaming Woods' real name is actually Dering Woods; it was given the nickname because many people claimed to hear blood curdling screams coming from deep within the trees. It lies just south of the haunted village of Pluckley, which may be why it's a hotspot for paranormal activity. It's said that the woods are haunted by a highwayman who was captured by villagers, brought to the woods, pinned to a tree, and killed with a sword. That, surely, would make anyone die screaming.
3. Everything about Old House Woods makes it seem haunted.
Mathews County may be small, but it was home to an important port during the pre- Revolutionary, Revolutionary, and Civil War eras. The county has such a rich history, it's no surprise that the woods and the nearby beach are said to be haunted. Paranormal sightings occur frequently...and vary quite drastically. Citizens have reported sightings of skeletons in medieval armor, ghost ships, spectral horses and cows, floating lights, headless dogs, and European soldiers. It's thought that the paranormal energy comes from the location of a old colonial home that was in the middle of the woods. Multiple fires have since burned the home down, but its presence is still felt.
4. The Epping Forest is not a great place to go camping.
Epping Forest has had a rich and long history. There's evidence of Iron Age forts, Roman battles, Saxon saints, Norman invaders, and Tudor hunting grounds. What makes Epping Forest haunted, though, is its connection with crime. Highwaymen often hid in these woods, robbing and murdering innocent passersby. That's enough to make any spirit a little angry...
5. Freetown State Forest has been haunted since we arrived in this country.
The Freetown area was purchased in 1659 from the Wampanoag Tribe. It officially became a town in 1683. It's part of the "Bridgewater Triangle," a 200-square-mile area in southeastern Massachusetts that's known to be ripe with paranormal phenomena. People within the triangle have spotted UFOs, spectral creatures, and cryptids (including Bigfoot, thunderbirds, and giant snakes). The Freetown State Forest is smack dab in the middle of all of the activty, making it the worst place to take a walk at night.
6. Even the trees in the Hoia-Baciu Forest are unnerving.
This forest is another epicenter of paranomal activity. The Hoia-Baciu forest, also known as the "Bermuda Triangle of Transylvania," has been famous since 1968. Biologist Alexandru Sift traveled to this rural area and managed to capture a photo of a disc-shaped UFO flying above it. This may be strange, but the fact that locals also fear the forest is even creepier. They believe it to be a cursed, forbidden place -- it's viewed as one of the most haunted spots in the world. Plus, it's in Transylvania; stuff is always creepier in Transylvania.
7. Aokigahara Forest is known as the "suicide forest" for an obvious reason.
Either the Aokigahara Forest is haunted because so many people have taken their lives in it...or it is haunted because it draws people to it and convinces them to kill themselves. The large, dark forest borders Mt. Fuji and is also known as "Death Forest", "Suicide Forest", or "Sea of Trees." Nearly 500 people have died in this vast span of woods since the 1950s. It's not uncommon to find broken down cars, abandoned tents, and nooses that have been cut down inside the forest. It would be a morbid, interesting place to visit...if you weren't afraid of falling under its deadly spell.
It's not the trees or undergrowth that's frightening -- but what their darkness could be hiding.
As the great H.P. Lovecraft once said, "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear. And the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."