Forests can be enchanting places—the sunlight filtering through the trees, wildlife scampering in the underbrush, trunks reaching to the sky. They can also be bastions of solitude and quiet, the only break in the stillness from the snap of a branch, a breeze rustling the leaves, or, perhaps, the faint whispers of a secret. Some forests hold ruins, sculptures, artifacts, even entire museums waiting to captivate the next intrepid explorer.
On the outskirts of the Forest of Fontainebleau in Noisy-sur-École, France, is a sandy but waterless beach surrounded by pine and birch, perhaps a relic of an ancient ocean. In the woods of Härjedalen, Sweden, a statue of one of Hollywood’s greatest actors is hidden in the dense foliage, fitting for a starlet with a reputation as a recluse. And in New Jersey, forest is taking over the remains of a grand mansion. From a stained-glass window that illuminates the forest floor to strange stone carvings, here are a dozen of our favorite woodland secrets.