Crooked Forest – Gryfino, Poland - Atlas Obscura
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Gryfino, Poland

Crooked Forest

Abusive farmers may have stunted trees 80 years ago. 

Blending science fiction and ecological abnormality, a group of 400 trees in Poland’s Krzywy Las or “the Crooked Forest,” are mysteriously bent. Hovering just inches above the ground, the trees amazingly, and dramatically, take a sharp turn toward the sky, rounding into little J shapes as they make their ascent.

There is no definitive answer for these pines’ bizarre shape, and the stories about them run the gamut from the practical to the bizarre. The most grounded among those seeking answers believe the trees may have simply been buried beneath a terrible snowstorm in their infancy. Others still believe the gravitational pull in that area has morphed their trunks.

The most intriguing explanation suggests that a local foresters manipulated the trees after planting them in 1925-1928. Apparently, the foresters hoped to make  furniture from the bent shapes and intervened when the trees were only 10 years old. Refusing to let the trees grow upwards, the foresters severely stunted their growth. Likely abandoned after start of WWII in 1939, leaving a lasting ecological mark 80 years later.

Every tree in the Crooked Forest has the same haunting bend, but despite bent beginnings, they have all grown to be tall and seemingly unhampered by their C-shape curves. Trees are resilient, and so they continued to thrive, relying on the one branch they had left to take over complete function and grow upwards. Whatever damage occurred to one tree must have happened to them all because they remain uniform in deformity.

The world may never know if it’s true, as most of the local German population was expelled after the end of World War II and the area was resettled mainly by Poles who had been forced to leave the territory of former eastern Poland annexed by the Soviet Union.

Know Before You Go

The easiest way to get to the Crooked Forest is taking a taxi or bus line 1 from Gryfino.