Gespensterwald (Ghost Forest) - Atlas Obscura

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Gespensterwald (Ghost Forest)

Nienhagen, Germany

Twisted trees shaped by coastal winds make this woodland look like something from a spooky story. 


The Gespensterwald (“Ghost Forest” in English) is located in Nienhagen, Germany, right next to the Baltic Sea. During the day, the forest is filled with dappled light and the sounds of woodland creatures. But at night, the trees sometimes look like they’ve been pulled straight from a horror movie.

Covering a span of 180 hectares, the forest is an ordinary mixed forest of beech, hornbeam, ash, and oak. Some of the tall trees are nearly 200 years old, and the wide spaces between them are perfect for walking. You can take a walk through the forest and even go to the beach and swim a little bit, because the woods come right up to the shore of the Baltic Sea.

It’s the salty sea air that makes the Gespensterwald so special. A combination of wind, salt, and high humidity has molded many of the trees into unusual twisted forms. Many of the trees, especially the beeches, have trunks and crowns shaped by decades of exposure to the coastal air. Their branches grow mainly on one side of the tree, and often appear twisted or snake-like. When the mist fills the forest, it’s no wonder that this place is at the center of local ghost stories.

Know Before You Go

The Gespensterwald is located on the western side of Nienhagen, directly on the steep coast. You can reach the forest on foot or by bike. You can drive with your car to a parking place at the edge of the forest in Nienhagen and from there you have to walk, but it’s only a 5-10 minute long walk until you reach the ghost forest. Right next to the forest is the Ostsee (Baltic Sea) so you can also go to a beach there together with visiting the forest.

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December 2, 2021

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