The twisted trees of Trollskogen, or “Troll Forest,” are up to 200 years old and look as though they are bewitched. The crooked lichen-covered pines were misshapen by decades of strong winds off the Baltic Sea. Ivy crawls up many of the trees, while giant old oaks are scattered throughout the woods.
This enchanting and a bit eerie landscape is thanks to the forest’s unusual geography. It’s located on the very northeastern tip of the Swedish island of Öland, wedged between the Baltic Sea to the east and the protected Grankullaviken bay to the west. While the exposed trees near the shingle beach on the Baltic side have been weathered by the elements, the vegetation on the bay side of the forest looks completely different.
Trollskogen is part of a nature reserve that protects the area’s unique ecology, including many rare insect species and fungi. Parts of the forest have been hollowed out by years of cattle grazing and logging by local farmers. Still about 30 elderly oaks are interspersed among the gnarled pines; the most famous of them is called Trolleken, or “Troll Oak,” and is one of the oldest trees on Sweden’s northeast coast.
Were that not mystical enough, ancient burial cairns and stone circles can also be found in this strange wood, along with the remains of old fortifications from the 15th century, when the area served as a major naval base on the Baltic. The ruins of a shipwreck that ran aground near the Troll Forest in 1926 can also be seen along the shore.