The Mysterious Crooked Forest in Poland

“Nature is always mysterious and secret in her use of means; and art is always likest her when it is the most inexplicable,” wrote 19th-century English writer John Ruskin.  

We now have the most modern and advanced science to help us figure things out. But the universe still leaves us with perplexing puzzles that even the most cutting-edge technology cannot provide clear-cut answers to. Unproven theories leave us with even more questions than answers.

Somewhere in northwestern Poland lies a pine forest – but it is far from an ordinary pine forest. The said forest, located near the town of Gryfino, West Pomerania, has a bizarre collection of curved trees aptly named the “Crooked Forest” (Krzywy Las in Polish). It covers an area of around 1.7 hectares.

mysterious crooked forest in Gryfino, Poland – shallow depth of field

This small grove of 400 oddly-shaped pine trees is shrouded in mystery. Even though numerous theories have been proposed over the years, no one really knows what caused these trees to end up with this conformation.

These trees were planted in the village of Nawo Czarnowo (current population: 660) in 1930, when the location was still part of the German province of Pomerania.

From the base, each pine tree grows with a 90-degree sharp bend northward, then curves back to grow straight up into the sky. Despite the unnatural curves, most of these trees are healthy. Some grow up to 50 feet (15.24 meters) tall.

mysterious crooked forest in Gryfino, Poland – shallow depth of field

Theories for the trees’ unusual curves

Since these curved pine trees were first sighted, a number of theories and guesses have been proposed over the decades. Here are some of them:

  • Many people guess that the trees were grown for the rims of wooden cartwheels, since the grain direction would have provided durable wheels. But there is little evidence of that.
  • A unique gravitational pull may have caused the trees to grow curved northwards. However, this theory does support fundamental scientific analysis given that gravity pulls things down south and not an upward curve.
  • A heavy snowstorm in the area may have weighed down the trees as they were sprouting, causing them to grow curved at the base. However, this theory does not explain why the other groups of pine trees and other types of vegetation nearby were not affected, considering that they grow from the same area.
  • A more bizarre assumption speculates that the forest could have been haunted and that evil spirits are responsible for the trees’ eerie growth.
  • Perhaps the most plausible (and most widespread) theory is that local farmers used some kind of tool or technique to manipulate the trees when they planted them in 1930. It further suggests that these farmers manipulated the trees for use as construction materials for pieces of furniture or, more likely, shipbuilding. An online article provides additional speculation: Germany’s invasion of Poland during World War II would have likely interrupted this activity, thus preventing the farmers from being able to finish their job, leaving these trees in the peculiar shape that we see today. However, it is estimated that the trees were around 7 – 10 years old when they experienced the unexplained force that caused the trunks to curve upward. Besides, what kind of tool or method these farmers could have used was never determined.

Gryfino was left devastated during the war and then left abandoned for a long time until the 1970s, when a new power plant was built in the area. This would explain why none of the locals have the slightest idea why the trees end up looking like this.

Despite a handful of theories, guesses, and speculations over the years, no one is certain what really caused the curvature of these trees since there are no witnesses to provide solid proof one way or another. The people who were around before the war – and probably had the answers to unlock the mystery of the Crooked Forest – are likely gone forever. 

While the mystery surrounding the forest is still unsolved up to now, at least the last explanation seems to be the most acceptable.

Whether the Crooked Forest will leave you enchanted, creeped out, or endlessly guessing, there’s no doubt that the distorted shape of these trees adds to the forest’s uniqueness. If you love weird stuff and mysterious places, you will definitely add the Crooked Forest to your “creepy places to visit” bucket list. The site is one of Poland’s popular tourist attractions.

Will you plan to visit the Crooked Forest soon? If you’re interested in strange forests and woodlands, check out the other mysterious forests in the world.