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It is 40 square miles (100 km²) in extent, mostly coniferous softwoods under the control of the Forestry Commission. It was planted in 1905 on what was mostly moorland and many hill farms. It is a highland region, mostly above 350 metres. It experienced a severe winter in 1946/47 with over 150 cm of lying snow on flat ground recorded at Clawdd-newydd (a nearby village), and there was another hard winter in 1962/63. It is also one of the last mainland strongholds of red squirrels in Wales.
There are high points which rise above the tree level, affording views of Snowdonia and Arenig Fawr to the west, the Berwyn Range to the south, the Clwydian Range to the east, and the Denbigh moors to the north. The highest point in the forest is 'The Mast' at Craig Bron Bannog 501m (1,644 feet).
Wildlife includes many birds, including the crossbill which are adapted well to the conifers. Nesting platforms have been built at the top of bare trees. There is also an enclosed area where wild horses (Przewalski's Horses) can be viewed. In addition, there are several examples of ancient remains, including at least one stone circle and the 'credstone', an ancient worship site.
In March 2002, a 47-year old schizophrenic man by the name of Richard Sumner died after handcuffing himself to a tree in the forest and throwing away the key. He wasn't found until April 2005, when a woman and her dog found his skeleton. It was believed he struggled to break free after scuff marks on the tree were found.
A recent development in the forest is the construction in 2005 of a wind farm with 25 wind turbines. The 3 groups of turbines, north to south are:- Tir Mostyn (8), Foel Goch (7) and Marial Gwyn (10). Many more wind turbines are planned.
- "Artist died 'handcuffed to a tree'". BBC News. 20 September 2005. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
- "Handcuffed to a tree... artist died trying to get free; Remains found three years after he vanished". The Free Library. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
- grid reference SJ0153
- Forestry Commission page on Przewalski's Horses in Clocaenog
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4674207.stm (bbc news article about the expansion of wind farms in Wales, including in the Clocaenog Forest)