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The Elf-path was a little-known pathway through Mirkwood that led from a western entrance called the Forest Gate to the Elvenking's Halls and thence to the Long Marshes in the east.[1]


The western portion of the Elf-path to be narrow and winding between the trunks of the trees. Scattered shafts of sunlight soon ceased and the passage became like a tunnel. In the late Third Age cobwebs entangled tree-branches on either side but none impeded the path. Roughly halfway through the forest the Elf-path was cut by the Enchanted River, 12 yards wide, with a boat. Four days beyond the enchanted stream the Elf-path entered an area where the trees were mostly beeches and the light was less dim. After another two days the Elf-path led downward into a valley of mighty oaks.

The Elf-path led to the Elvenking's Halls, presumably connecting to the bridge leading to the gates of the caves.[2]

However, at one time it also went beyond to the eastern edge of Mirkwood, but by the late Third Age it came to a doubtful and little-used end.


When Bilbo Baggins, Thorin, and the company of dwarves passed through the Forest Gate they found it everlastingly still and dark and stuffy.

Bilbo spied the boat on the eastern side of the Enchanted River. With Bilbo's help, Fíli hooked the boat with a rope and the party could move on, but not before Bombur had fallen in and fallen into a sleep that lasted for many days.

Later the party heard distant singing and laughter. Bilbo climbed one of the trees to see if the end of the path could be spotted but, unaware that his tree was at the bottom of the valley, reported to the dwarves that no end was in sight.

The next day, with no food left, the party saw lights off in the forest and left the Elf-path to try to obtain something to eat. When they scrambled into the ring of feasting Wood-elves all lights went out as if by magic, the party was lost, and they never returned to the Elf-path[3] as they were taken captives of Thranduil.

News of this had come to Gandalf, who was in great anxiety to finish his other business and search for Thorin's company.[4]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings"
  2. Map of Wilderland in The Hobbit
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Flies and Spiders"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Warm Welcome"