Welcome to one of the places in Poland that may just well be one of its strangest. Found a little way out of the western Polish city of Szczecin is Krzywy Las, known in English as the Crooked Forest. I first learned of this bizarre and obscure attraction in an in-flight magazine and had written it down in the hopes of one day visiting myself. When I decided to spend time in Poland in September, there was no question I was going.
So what exactly is the Crooked Forest? An unexplained phenomenon that’s what. For some unknown reason, a small forest by the Oder River grew in an exceptionally bizarre manner during the 20th century. The pine trees were all planted in the 1930s and as you can see below, have all grown in a warped and curvy way. I take the name Crooked to have a double meaning: Firstly they are crooked in the wonky sense, but they also kind of look like shepherd’s crooks.
I’ve read multiple reasons theorised for why the trees have grown the way they have. One is that the trees were stunted by an exceptionally heavy snowstorm, causing them to warp. Other theories involve the trees being deliberately shaped by humans to creative curved timber. I’d actually thought it had something to do with World War I and tanks rolling over them and bending them in the process before learning of the timing. But who knows, there’s apparently no consensus as of yet.
My visit to the Crooked Forest started by hopping on the train from Szczecin south to the minor station of Dolna Odra. I say station and not town, because it really felt like it was in the middle of nowhere, with no people about and just a small gravel road heading off towards the forest. I wandered down the unsealed road until I arrived at a small apartment building on a regional road and noticed my first, underwhelming sign to the Crooked Forest. The sign pointed to a dirt path heading into a forest that looked absolutely normal. Following the path, I basically circled around the lonely apartment building before quickly reaching my target.
At first glance, I had somewhat of a mixed reaction. While the trees were definitely as warped as I had been expecting, the forest (or should I say grove) was smaller and more sparse than I had expected. In my head, the Crooked Forest had been much larger, rather just a grove among a larger forest. I had anticipated somewhere epic and possibly had my hopes too high. Yet after exploring for a while and taking a few photos, I did begin to properly appreciate the unusual sight in front of my eyes. In fact, the unexpected surroundings began to frame just how unlikely of an experience it all was and made me grateful I had come to at least see it all with my own eyes.
With regards to getting here, apparently there is a local bus that runs the route from Szczecin past the forest but I was never able to find information online about it. Also, while I’ve been unable to re-find the train schedules online, I do recommend checking them at the Szczecin main station in order to get the most accurate travel information.
So, while it may be a little obscure and a minor challenge to reach by public transport, I still feel the sight of these trees is worth the trip. For me, I always find it immensely gratifying to visit somewhere that I’ve wanted to go for a while and not come away disappointed. In that case, the Crooked Forest in the west of Poland definitely fits the bill.
Have you ever been to a place of nature that was utterly bizarre like the Crooked Forest? Please share your experiences in the comments below.
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