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Existed during the early Second Age;1 survived (though partly ruined) until at least the end of the Third Age
Running west to east through Greenwood the Great (later Mirkwood) from the Old Ford to the banks of the river Running
Made by Dwarves in ancient times
Made by Dwarves, but used by peoples of all races
Other names
Dwarf-road, Forest Road, Men-i-Naugrim; sometimes referred to as the 'Great Dwarf Road'2
Despite the similarity of their names, the Old Forest Road has no connection with the Old Forest, which lay far from Mirkwood to the west


About this entry:

  • Updated 6 September 2022
  • This entry is complete

Old Forest Road

The east-west road that led through Greenwood the Great

Map of the Old Forest Road

The main route through the great forest originally known as Greenwood the Great and latterly as Mirkwood. Where the Road crossed the Great River, there was originally a stone bridge, but by the later years of the Third Age the bridge had been lost and the river was crossed by the Old Ford. From there, a traveller following the road eastward would cross some miles of open country before plunging into the depths of the forest (and it was from this point that the road properly became the Old Forest Road). The road then ran directly eastward from one side of the forest to the other, covering more than two hundred miles beneath the canopy of trees before it emerged by the banks of the River Running.

Of the origins of the Road we know little for certain. We have references to it from the earlier Second Age, and we can be sure that it existed before the end of that Age, because a record exists of the stone bridge being specially strengthened to carry the armies of the Last Alliance. A strong clue to its origins is presented in its Sindarin name, Men-i-Naugrim, meaning 'Dwarf-road'. The Dwarves had a tradition of road-building dating back to before the First Age, and it seems that they must have built the Forest Road to carry traffic between their western and eastern clans. It's particularly notable that the old bridge over the Anduin at the Road's western end lay almost exactly halfway between the ancient Dwarvish meeting-place at Gundabad to the north, and Durin's mansions of Khazad-dûm to the south.

Heavy rains and tremors in the later years of the Third Age caused the marshes of the Long Lake to extend far southward, making the eastern fringes of the forest impassable. By the year III 2941 (the year that Thorin and Company travelled to the Lonely Mountain), the Old Forest Road still ran beneath the trees of Mirkwood, but the road's eastern end had become lost in the morasses of the Long Marshes.



We have almost no records of the making of the Old Forest Road, except for a brief note in volume XII of The History of Middle-earth. That note relates to a time early in the Second Age, and makes reference to the road as existing at this time. It was explicitly made by the Dwarves (and indeed it is given the alternative name of the 'Great Dwarf Road').

The implication seems to be that the road was probably made by the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm (who dominated the Vales of Anduin in this period) to communicate with their kin in the distant East. This explains why it did not run toward Erebor, which was not occupied by Dwarves at this point in history. In later times the ruined road came to an end when it reached the river Running, but in earlier centuries it would presumably have crossed the river and carried on towards the East.


This name does not appear in any canonical sources, but only in the comment referred to in note 1 above. It was apparently the name used when the road was kept in repair during the Second Age, before it fell into decay and became the 'Old' Forest Road of the later Third Age.


About this entry:

  • Updated 6 September 2022
  • This entry is complete

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