Visit the Spooky and Haunted Parallel Forest in Oklahoma

creepy forest trail

A dark, labyrinthine forest of non-native trees deliberately planted by the federal government sounds out of place. Strange things, but set amid the rugged Wichita Mountains of southwestern Oklahoma, one such place is unnervingly real. The Parallel Forest is like an eerie mirage on a quiet, winding stretch of Oklahoma State Route 115. Distinguished only by a small, frequently empty parking lot, this unmarked patch of forest contrasts with the surrounding desert terrain. with its towering canopy of red cedar trees so dense and tall they block out the sun. Welcome to the scariest hike of your life.

Stroll through spooky perfection

The Parallel Forest is not huge. With just 16 acres, it could all easily be contained on one floor of the Mall of America, but here it’s a matter of quality over quantity, or rather, a matter of labyrinthine mystery and intrigue. What it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in creepiness. stepford wives-like perfection.

The forest is a sea of ​​more than 20,000 red cedars that were deliberately planted by the federal government as an experiment to try to counteract the effects of the Dust Bowl. As dust swept through the Plains in the 1930s, essentially covering much of the state with soil for a good decade, the US government apparently thought it would be a good idea to plant non-native cedars exactly six feet from distance in all directions. over a strip of several acres, to act as a possible windblock to break up the dusty maelstrom. The fact that there are not multiple Parallel Forests in the entire region suggests that the experiment may have…failed. Instead, the government has succeeded in gifting southwestern Oklahoma with a forest that is as socially distanced as it is creepy and riddled with shady and haunted lore.

forest path
Oklahoma Tourism

Lose yourself in tradition

For starters, the forest looks as eerie as hell. From a small cement patch of a parking lot, you can see a towering wall of cedars that looks more like a fortress than an enticing walk through the woods. If Harry Potter took place in Oklahoma, this would be the Forbidden Forest. As you penetrate its walls, sunny skies are quickly replaced by a thick canopy, and the further you go, the more the path fades. Since the trees are perfectly planted six feet apart in all directions, this is not really a forest with designated trails; rather, keep track of where you entered and try not to wander in circles, which is very easy to do, considering this is like the woodsy equivalent of a mirror maze. That said, the forest is only 16 acres, so you probably don’t need to worry about getting into a hopeless accident. witch-destination style. Your best bet is to download the AllTrails app and use it to follow the tail of the 0.8-mile loop.

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Still, something as unnatural and puzzling as this is sure to attract some ghoulish myths. Since its dusty origins, there have been reports of unexplained visions, including orbs in photos, sounds of drums and headless ghosts, and witchcraft ceremonies, whether or not it is the witch is involved is yet to be determined. Oh, and there’s also an unexplained man-made rock formation in the middle of the forest that’s rumored to be an altar for satanic rituals, NBD. It remains to be seen if any of these “hexes” or rituals are legitimate, or perhaps they are just subconscious mind tricks brought on by the ominous scenario. After all, any place that’s been abandoned by the government and shrouded in near-constant darkness is guaranteed to feel a bit eerie regardless. And if you hear the snap of a twig in the distance, just tell yourself it’s a wandering longhorn lost in the woods. Like you.

lake in medicine park

Visit non-haunted things nearby

All that said, there is plenty to see and do in the area around the Parallel Forest that doesn’t involve satanic rituals. The forest is on the eastern edge of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, a 60,000-acre park that is much easier to navigate. Here you’ll find streams, lakes, grassy meadows, rocky canyons, and rugged mountains, along with numerous designated trails. One of the most scenic is the Bison Trail, a six-mile loop that winds through a surprisingly deep canyon (at least by Oklahoma standards; maybe won’t take an Arizonan here), crosses a river, through and grasslands, with the likely chance of seeing wild bison, longhorns, and other creatures such as tarantulas, prairie dogs, and roadrunners.

East of Parallel Forest is the bucolic, time-preserved town of Medicine Park, a happy little slice of America lined with cobblestone streets, wooden bridges, swimming holes, ice cream parlors, and cheesy huts that look like hobbit holes. . Charming restaurants abound, including Riverside Cafe, Santa’s Snack Shop, Small Mountain Street Tacos, and The Old Plantation, the latter of which scratches that southern itch with fried green tomatoes, chicken fried steak, fried catfish sandwiches, and cobbler.

For more Oklahoma cuisine, line up at the Meers Store and Restaurant, a ramshackle hamburger institution that’s been around since 1901, when the small town of Meers was a bustling gold-mining mecca. Today, this enduringly popular diner shack inevitably commands long lines for tried-and-true plate-sized cheeseburgers, thick fries, and sundaes so big they’re basically served in baseball helmets.

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Matt Kirouac is a travel writer working on a memoir about the epic ups and downs of life on the road as a gay couple and the lessons learned along the way. Follow him on Instagram.

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