Course of the Giant's Trace

Aside from the standard paths in Hithaeglir, all of them difficult and most dangerous, there was one known only to a select group. This was the Giant Trace, a trail that wound along the entire western side of the Misty Mountains for more than a thousand miles at or just below the tree line. It ran south from the Ettenmoors in Rhudaur, cut across the High Pass east of Rivendell, stood high above the entrance to Khazad-dum in the central part of the range, then sent connecting trails over to Fangorn on the eastern side of the mountains, dropped down into the Gap of Calenardhon along the watershed line, eventually turning westward into Enedhwaith while branching off a side trail that crossed the Isen and Adorn rivers and went into the White Mountains. Those who stumble across the Giant Trace typically believed it to be a migration path for the mountain sheep, which it was, and some believed it to be a Troll path, which was also true. Its original builders, however, were the Stone Giants of the Misty and White Mountains. For long ages, they had used it to travel between their scattered families and communities in the different mountain ranges, far above the elevations where the smaller folk of the world walked. The Stone and Hill Trolls also followed the Trace, although they stayed clear of the Giants; a mutual truce had served both races for untold years. The Giant Trace lay on the edge of Eriador, but it served three groups who needed to pass in and out of the country with a minimum of fuss. The first was the Ents, who still occasionally visited the forests of the North and who were too conspicuous to walk comfortably across the lowlands. The second was the Elves, who used the Trace when Men were turned against them in Eriador, especially in Rhudaur and Dunland, or when the land was so flooded with Orcs that they could not use their usual trick of traveling by night to avoid encounters. The third group was the Rangers of the North, who periodically dealt with invasions, wars, and racial vendettas without the benefits of Elvish stealth or an Entish stride. The Trace was slow and difficult for Men, and not easy for Elves. It was made by large, fairly clumsy creatures, but a smaller hiker with good trail sense and endurance enough to handle the altitude could still make respectable time on it.

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