In the spirit of all things spooky since this Friday the 13th fell in October, we thought we’d share some of the scary haunted woods that can be found in U.S. and the U.K.
Now whether you’re a believer of ghosts, demons or any of the supernatural that is up to you, but these 13 forests either have enough rumors swirling around them to make them seem ominous or there is simply something off in these woods that will make your hair stand on end.
Some of these places you can visit yourself if you’re looking for a thrill, but others are private property and will be listed as so.
Without further ado, here are some haunted forests and why they have the reputation of being forbidding.
1. Devil’s Tramping Ground – North Carolina
If the name wasn’t explanatory enough as to the legends that surround this area, a 40-foot clearing exists in the woods where no plant or tree will grow and nor animals will cross it. Locals say it is because it is where the devil tramps and plots evils against humanity. People often report finding their belongings thrown out of the circle in the morning. There are reports of satanic rituals being held in the circle as well.
2. Old House Woods – Virginia
Home to an active port during colonial, Revolutionary and Civil War eras, the Old House Woods have a wide variety of fantastical stories connected around them. From ghost ships to ghostly British soldiers and pirates to headless dogs there are a lot of different paranormal sightings reported. The name comes from a colonial house that was in the forest that burned down. Note the Old House Woods is private property.
3. Ballyboley Forest – Northern Ireland
Believed to be a gateway to the Celtic Otherworld due to its distinctive stone arrangements and circular trenches, local legend credits a high number of disappearances to this forest from the 15th to 17th century. One story says that two men heard a woman screaming and found tree trunks streaked in blood. As they ran away, they allegedly saw figures with brown head coverings standing motionless behind them.
4. Epping Forest – England
Home to notorious highwayman Dick Turpin who hid there in the 1700s, this forest has been a popular hideout for both criminals and their buried victims thanks to its size and proximity to London. Ghostly figures have been said to be seen emerging from a pond in the woods and Turpin himself is also said to haunt the place. Even without its gruesome past the pollarded trees have a strange, misshapen look to them since they haven’t been cut since the late 1800s.
5. Pine Barrens – New Jersey
A vast swath of forestland that covers more than seven counties in New Jersey, the Pine Barrens gets its name from its sandy, nutrient-poor soil. The legends surrounding the Pine Barrens are those of the Jersey Devil. The story varies some but it is said to have been born in 1735 to a local woman named Mrs. Leeds. Said to be her 13th child, it had bat wings, a goat head and hooves. It flew up the chimney and has been living in the Barrens ever since.
6. Randolph Forest – Maine
Haunted by a spirit named Bicycle Eddie or Bicycle Larry, depending on who you ask, visitors to these woods report seeing orbs of light, dark shadows and screams to “get out.” Abandoned cars and ripped-up railroad tracks give the forest an eerie feel.
7. Dark Entry Forest – Connecticut
A forest name that is almost begging for some paranormal activity, this location lies in the shadow of three mountains and could be the real reason for the name of the place. The woods got some unwanted publicity when the rumor that the founders of Dudleytown were related to Edmund Dudley, an Englishman who was beheaded for treason during Henry the VII’s reign. The Dudley family was said to be cursed and was the explanation for crop failures and mental illness in the village. Despite being proven false, the lore attracted a number of visitors and a collective of shareholders known as the Dark Entry Forest Association purchased the land, making it private property.
8. Freetown-Fall River State Forest – Massachusetts
Said to be part of the Bridgewater Triangle where numerous unexplained occurrences are alleged to happen, Freetown-Fall River State Forest is supposedly cursed from when settlers purchased the land from the Wampanoag Tribe. The land contains several Native American burial grounds. It is also the site of satanic cult rituals and murders in the 1970s and 1980s.
9. Pocomoke Forest – Maryland
While some locations will deny any association with the supernatural, others embrace it proudly. Pocomoke Forest is one of these as it has guided walking tours at night and guests often cite being poked and tapped while in the forest. As for why the forest is haunted there are plenty of myths including poplar urban legends like the hook man, but it also has original apparitions like Sampson Harmon who was improperly buried and a goat man who lives in the swamp.
10. Robinson Woods – Illinois
Land acquired from three Native American tribes, the woods are named after its owner Andrew Robinson. The family’s house burned to the ground in 1955. Later on, naked and strangled bodies were found in a ditch on the edge of woods casting a dark shadow on the place. A burial monument marks where the bodies of Robinson’s wife and his family lie, but he was buried elsewhere and some believe the hauntings are a result of his restless spirit.
11. Morgan-Monroe State Forest – Indiana
Another location that celebrates its haunted status like a celebrity, Morgan-Monroe State Forest offers a haunted hike, which leads the way to Stepp Cemetery deep within the woods. Said to be haunted by ghost known as the Black Lady who remains near her baby son’s grave, different reports say that she will chase away visitors. Other gravestones have disturbing messages on them like “Never at Rest.”
12. Wychwood Forest – England
Once part of the larger royal hunting grounds in Oxfordshire, the most famous ghost that is said to haunt these woods is Amy Robsart, who was the wife of the Earl of Leicester. She had mysteriously died of a broken neck and then appeared in front of her husband while he was riding through the woods and said he would die as well in 10 days, which he did after falling ill. It is said that anyone who sees her will face a similar fate.
13. Screaming Woods – England
Also known as their less menacing name Dering Woods, the Screaming Woods are aptly named from the alleged screams that come from the forest late at night. The screams are said to come from highwayman Robert DuBois who was captured by villagers, pinned to a tree and killed with a sword. Others think the haunting is from a 1948 massacre where 20 people purportedly were found dead in the forest.