You need 16 strength, as far as the forest goes, do you mean darkroot garden? You can access it a little bit after beating the giant boar and getting to the cathedral. --- http://wow.incgamers.com/gallery/data/500/southpark.jpg ^That's you.
Yeah, it's just 30 arrows at the Dragon's Tail, cheap to do. Requires 16 str 10 dex. But just 2-hand it and no need to raise strength at all, I don't think it's worth raising str for this short-term weapon.