The Squonk & The Hag

Hoia Baciu Forest

Where is Hoia Baciu Forest?

Hoia Baciu (Hoi-a Batch-u) forest is nestled in the north west of the country of Romania. It roughly translates to “Shepherds” Forest. More on how it got its name later! It is right next to the city of Cluj-Napoca (Clu-je Napo-ca) which is the country’s fourth biggest city. It is roughly equidistant from Bucharest, Budapest, and Belgrad. The city is considered by most to be the unofficial capital city of the historical province of Transylvania. It is not a very large forest, about 729 acres or 2.95 Square Kilometers for you peeps outside the US. This in comparison to the Allegheny National Forest in Penn. State which clocks in at 500k acres or 2,000 km squared, and the Francis Morton National Forest in SC which is 200k acres or 1,000 km squared. So not big in comparison at all. It has natural springs on its northern edge and is surrounded by the city to the east and fields and other forests to the west. The forest is comprised mostly of beech, hornbeam, ash, and elm, which all tend to grow in smaller forests in this region. There is one other prominent feature in this forest. A clearing in the southwestern portion of the forest is known simply as The Clearing, or The Circle. It is said that no vegetation grows there, and that it is perfectly circular. None of which is true, by the way. Sorry to burst ya bubble there. However The Clearing will be brought up once more, and it will knock you off your feet to hear what happens!  (Honestly not a lot here) 

What happens at the Hoia Bacui Forest?

So here is the meat and potatoes of the Hoia Baciu Forest. The name “Shepherd’s” Forest comes from an age-old tale. Sometime in the 1500’s there was a shepherd that led his flock of 200 sheep into the forest and neither him nor the sheep were ever seen again. Some people think he was murdered and the flock scattered or were placed in other flocks, and some think he was whisked away by unknown powers. 

There is also a story about a 5 year old going into the forest, and disappearing. Search parties were organized but met with no success. Everyone thought the girl was gone forever. Then about 5 years later this same girl emerges from the woods, unchanged, and has no recollection of where she’s been or what she’s been doing. She still has the same clothes on, and they aren’t damaged or weathered. Her hair is still the same length. No one knows how or why. 

One of the most famous experiences in recent times is the story of Emil Barnea, who was a military technician, photographed what he claimed was a UFO hovering over The Clearing, in 1968. What differentiates this story from other UFO claims is that Barnea had nothing to gain from reporting the sighting, and everything to lose. The Communist government equated a belief in the paranormal with madness and state-sabotage, and Barnea lost his job in a country which had no support for the sacked. Earlier in the 60’s a biologist named Alexandru Sift took great interest in the stories of the strange happenings inside the forest and he began to venture out into the woods to research light and magnetism phenomena in the forest in which according to him he gathered substantial photographic evidence. Sadly Sift died in 1993 and he too became part of the mystery of the forest because after his death all the photographs he took went missing and most of them were never recovered. Other sightings of strange lights and orbs continue to this day in the area as well.

There are some random assortments of paranormal phenomena that circulate throughout the forest. Some people feel nauseous, panicked, anxious, get migraines, rashes, scratches and have a sense of foreboding while in the woods. Some hear girls giggling or female voices echoing through the foggy pre-dawn woods. Some people report getting burns, scratched, pushed and pulled as well. Pieces of electronic equipment sometimes will just stop working within the forest. Paranormal investigators find their batteries will be drained almost instantly at random times when doing their investigations. One of the most notorious experiences within this hodgepodge of anomalous activity was captured by the show Destination Truth. (One of my favorite paranormal shows) In 2009 the cast and crew visited the forest, trying to capture some evidence. They finally make it to the clearing and one of the crew, Evan, a cameraman, suddenly flies through the air as he sits in “The Circle”. Following the appearance of a “sudden flash of light”, Evan suddenly flew from one side of the clearing to the other. He would also find wounds along his arms. This, despite them being completely covered by long sleeves. The most frightening aspect of the encounter, though, were the claims by Evan that just prior to the sudden force that moved him, “strange female voices” came from behind him. Now that’ll knock ya socks off! 

Then of course we have photos. There have been quite a few photos. One even depicts a person in traditional Romanian clothing. People claim to capture orbs, the shadow forms of people leering out from between the trees, and even some who claim the faces are peering out at them from INSIDE THE TREE.

There is also a tale of a heinous crime that took place inside the forest. Supposedly the area is the place where multiple murders happened in Soviet times. People claim that this is why the area is so strange. The murder victims are restless and angry because they are trapped within the wooded confines of the forest. However, this is all unsubstantiated as I found nothing to indicate this ever actually happened. 

Yeah that’s about it. So why is it that this forest is so haunted? Why do people think it is this way? 


There are a few theories as to why the Hoia Baciu Forest is the way it is. Some people think it is a source of major magnetic anomalies. It causes the trees to grow strangely and people to act strangely. The theory that magnetic energies can affect humans isn’t new, and is a widely held belief among paranormal researchers. However this isn’t the case here. Currently there is no area of the forest that has a recorded magnetic signature above 10 % of the Earth’s normal magnetic field. So this isn’t why all of these strange things are happening.

Some people believe it is a gateway to another dimension. Now, this could explain a lot of things that happen within the forest. Mysterious disappearances, the physical symptoms some people report, the trees growing strangely and the lights seen and photographed in the area. This cannot be proven or disproven, unless there’s a secret governmental device that can detect such things.

The final, and most boring, explanation for everything is that it’s all made up. Which, for the majority of it, looks to be true. There are some locals that vouch for the place being strange. Locals have reported strange lights being seen in the forest, but there are roads nearby, and the local airport has its landing strip pointed directly in the direction of the forest. The disappearances cannot be fact checked. They leave out names, dates, and no local stories of other people going missing have been reported on either. The only part of this theory that doesn’t explain something in the forest are the trees. No one knows why they grow so strangely. Most of them grow in a spiral or are bent at odd angles. Those that twist seem to do so in a clockwise motion. So far there has been no explanation why this happens. 


So what do you think? Is the Hoia Baciu Forest haunted? A doorway to another world? Or just a really cool place to visit? There are guided tours, both at night and during the day, of the forest. It’s also possible to camp there and see if you have your own experiences. If you’ve been here or live nearby we’d love to hear from you! We have a Discord group and we have an email address!    


Researched by Ranger from The Squonk & The Hag Podcast

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