Officers were called shortly before 12.25am on Saturday, after the 25-year-old victim was attacked as she walked along a footpath that leads from Holly Close through Whitebeam Woods to Whitebeam Road.
The attacker forced the woman to the ground and raped her.
The woman was assaulted while she was close to the basketball court that is opposite the junction of Romany Road and Walnut Tree Way.
The rapist would have had to leave the woods via one of a number of footpaths that emerge between the houses in the area.
Detectives are trying to find anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious in the area late on Friday or early on Saturday, including motorists who may have seen someone emerging from the woods.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Rymarz, from Sussex and Surrey major crime team, said: “Although the ground was dry when the attack happened, the rapist is likely to have got some soil or dirt on them when the victim was forced to the ground.
“I am keen to speak to anyone who knows of someone who returned home in the early hours of Saturday morning and had dust or dirt on their clothes, hands or legs.
“The person could have an innocent explanation for why they were dirty. However it is also possible that they were involved so I would urge anyone who has suspicions to contact us urgently.
“We need the help of the local community to identify and trace the person involved so they can be arrested.
“If you know anything at all, please contact us.”
Crime scene investigators have collected evidence from the scene and officers are continuing to carry out house to house inquiries in the area.
Anyone with information should email [email protected] quoting Operation Mode, call 101 or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
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