The Paths of the Dead:
These were the passages under the Ered Nimrais (White Mountains) between Dunharrow
and the Morthond Vale. At the time of the War of the Ring at the end of the Third
Age, the Paths of the Dead were a place of fear and dread as none had returned
after entering. At least one of the paths lead straight through the mountains,
though there were doors and paths branching off it as well.
Presumably, some of the passages might have been either a stronghold, safe
from attacks, similar to Helm's Deep or perhaps the homes of the Men living there
at the time of the War of the Last Alliance. Certainly the Dead haunting them
were the spirits of those Isildur cursed.
It was said that only an heir of Isildur could safely pass the Paths of the
Dead, which Aragorn did during the War of the Ring, along with Legolas, Gimli
and the Rangers of the North.
It is likely that once the Dead had fulfiled their oath, the Paths became
safe again, though doubtful that many ever used the passages again due to the
memory of the danger.
The Lord of the Rings
Aragorn | Isildur | Gimli | Legolas | The
Dead Men of Dunharrow | Gondor | Rohan | The
War of the Last Alliance | The
War of the Ring | The
Third Age of the Sun