Hoia Forest

Anna and her sons write about their experience of Hoia Forest, Cluj county, Transylvania, Romania, a tourist attraction to some, a place of recreation and rest for them.

Hoia Forest

Where should I begin with the creepy stories that are attached to this otherwise enchanting place that is very close to our house and that we like hiking whenever it is dry enough outside?

Looking at the twisted shapes of trees, could it be from paranormal phenomena? :D

Let's see... They say in the medieval times a large number of peasants were killed in this forest, so the place is haunted by their ghosts. We go often there, yes, during the day, might be that the ghosts have no business scaring people in daytime. So who knows, maybe during the night they go howling about... we should ask the people living in the condos next to the forest about this.

A big bug. 

Other stories tell of people who had disappeared into the forest never to be seen again. One girl, though, one of the stories says, returned after many years of disappearance but with no recollection of what happened in all that time... hence the forest was dubbed the Bermuda Triangle of Romania.

We are fascinated by these trees which have strange bumps on their branches.
same trees as the ones above...look at the strange branches.

There have been sightings of UFOs in Hoia Forest as well. Legends tell that "The Clearing", a circular grassy place in the forest where no trees grow had been the place where some eye witnessed people trying to open a door to another dimension. Back in the day, during the communist "golden age" of Romania, when Hoia Forest was used as a backdrop for music festivals people being high on alcoholic beverages and Romanian rock music, suffering from kebab (mici) indigestion might have seen portals in the forest and alien abductions... who knows?

Once we made a fire of dry wood in the Clearing and while we were roasting bacon over it, lo and behold, we met some Americans who came to see the place as a tourist attraction. I mean what are the odds to meet fellow citizens in such a place. Seems like anything is possible in this charming forest...

Frying bacon in the Clearing

We love going to this forest because it is very close to our home and it always feels like a quick fix to our everyday need for being out in nature. It has been our place to go to during the first lockdowns in the Covid era. I remember taking our 4x4 Romanian SUV up on the hill towards the forest to be far away from the maddening world behind.  At the edge of the forest we found wild cherry trees blooms that fateful spring. They were just amazing, a balm to our hearts.

Wild cherry blossoms at the edge of the forest, first Covid lockdown.

Hoia Forest is a quiet and lovely forest. It is a place to calm down in the trills of the nightingale and the blackbird; a place to let go of haunting worries in the wind  whispering to the leaves in the top of the trees; a place to hunt for porcini mushrooms; a broad place to roam freely, to explore mystery filled places like the Clearing; a place for our boys to find good sticks for stick fighting; a place to examine some interesting trees and bugs; an escape from the crowded city and the hot summer sun.

Rose hip on the hill, we make tea out of it. 

We sometimes find fossils on the hill, the evidence that the place was once flooded by a large body of water.

can you spot the shape of the shell in the middle of the rock?

The view all around from up the hill is lovely. The solitary mountains  in the distance, the busy city in the valley. I love it! I would go there whenever possible, just to relax and vent and feel the heart of creation beating for her Creator.

The view from the hill, next to the forest. 

Hoia Forest for me is:

Well trodden paths in the shade of whispering trees;
Breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out;
The peace in a sun ray breaking through the green canopy above;
A mysterious encounter awaiting just around the corner;
The care free laughter of my kids out and about.

Mihai, 13

I sometimes go to Hoia forest to pick mushrooms.

One time we found many mushrooms, after a big rain. They were delicious.

The forest is infamous for being haunted by aliens, a speculation that I think is totally untrue because I never saw one while I was there.

We park our car at the bottom of a tall hill and then start hiking to the forest that is at the top.

The hike to the forest on top of the hill.

When we get into the forest, we go to our usual spot for finding mushrooms, which is near a circular clearing that is the most famous place in the forest. That place is also our favorite for shooting our bows.

Unluckily, the last time we went there, we did not find any mushrooms, so our quest was not fulfilled. We had to go deeper into the forest to even have a chance of finding the elusive fungi.

On the way to the deepest part of the forest, we saw some gigantic anthills and colourful poisonous mushrooms.


In the deepest part of the forest, I found ONE SMALL MUSHROOM. FINALLY! Unluckily, it was the only one that we could find, so we left it behind.

Hoia Forest is:

The colourful poisonous mushrooms;
The musty smell of the dead vegetation on the ground;
The sound of busy ants doing their jobs;
The marks of hungry warthogs;
The slimy stem of a newly-picked mushroom.

I like going to the forest because of the hike and the possibility of finding mushrooms.

Paul, 10

Sometimes my family and I go to Hoia Forest because it is the closest forest to our house. When we go there we usually take our bows with us; we find a tree and start shooting it full of arrows.

Shooting arrows with a friend

Other than shooting the bows we sometimes cook bacon over a campfire made of dry wood from the forest.

I would go again to Hoia Forest so I can once more shoot arrows into our shooting tree.

Hoia Forest for me is:

The arrows whooshing into the tree;
The roughness of the bowstring,
The smell of sap on my arrow tip,
The twanging of the bowstring,
The taste of cool refreshing water in the shade of the forest.