Once upon a time there was a woman who lived in a quiet rural village, where no one believed in magic. She tried to make due by making up stories and talking to the animals. But such amusements only last so long.
Seeing her mood turn, her husband went searching for a way to distract her. And after some digging in books and regional brochures, he found an enchanted forest just 15 minutes away, with a three-mile hiking loop and vista called Olivia’s Overlook.
The husband knew without a doubt that this might be just the afternoon adventure to put the sparkle back into his wife’s eyes. But, unfortunately, in his enthusiasm, he had forgotten to bring a trail map.
And so his wife, who was reasonably well read, suggested they follow the directions given to a certain Bilbo Baggins in a tale she had read long, long ago—for dramatic effect, of course.
There is [a way around Mirkwood], if you care to go two hundred miles or so out of your way north, and twice that south. But you wouldn’t get a safe path even then. There are no safe paths in this part of the world.
Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.
Before you could get round Mirkwood in the North you would be right among the slopes of the Grey Mountains, and they are simply stiff with goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs of the worst description.
Before you could get round it in the South, you would get into the land of the Necromancer, and even you, Bilbo, won’t need me to tell you tales of that black sorcerer.
I don’t advise you to go anywhere near the places overlooked by his dark tower! Stick to the forest-track, keep your spirits up, hope for the best, and with a tremendous slice of luck you may come out one day… (The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – 7.145)