How to get to the Abyssal Woods in Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree

Elden Ring Abyssal Woods - a character is standing at the entrance to Abyssal Woods
(Image credit: From Software)

Figuring out how to get to the Abyssal Woods in Elden Ring is no easy feat. It's an optional area in the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC and you'd be forgiven for missing it completely on your first playthrough. 

This area isn't accessible early on in the DLC, so it's not something to worry about if you're just starting out. If you're as far as the Shadow Keep however, then you're in a good position to head there and take on its bosses—one of which you'll recognise if you watched any of the trailers—as well as the other horrors that await you there. Here's how to get to the Abyssal Woods in Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree.


Erdtree map fragments: Uncover the Land of Shadow
Scadutree fragments: How to level up in Erdtree
Erdtree bosses: A full hit list for the DLC
Leda quest: Track the Erdtree main quest
Sir Ansbach quest: Help the former servant of Mohg
Hornsent quest: Complete the quest for vengeance

How to get to the Abyssal Woods 

Getting to this optional area is pretty rough and it's not somewhere you can access until you've progressed as far as the Shadow Keep. It's also not a good idea to rush to this area if you care about NPC quests either, as getting near the imposing castle triggers the message "Somewhere, a great rune has broken," an event that progresses the story.

The basic steps to reach the Abyssal Woods are listed below—taken from our map fragments guide—but I'll give more detail for each step a little further down.

To start, look for the courtyard with the flaming boats inside Shadow Keep at Scadu Altus. Then: 

(Image credit: From Software)
  • Climb down the ladder with the corpse next to it on the eastern side of the courtyard
  • Go behind the waterfall and descend another ladder until you reach the room with the painting
  • Hit the illusory wall on the right side of that room, follow the path, and climb into the coffin you find at the end
  • Emerging from the coffin, follow the path down Recluses' River until you reach the Recluses' River Downstream site of grace
  • From here, continue descending the cliff until you reach the foggy area with the coffins and the statues, plus the entrance to the Darklight Catacombs dungeon
  • Complete the Darklight Catacombs dungeon and beat Jori, Elder Inquisitor to enter the Abyssal Woods

Beneath the Shadow Keep 

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

In Shadow Keep, from the Main Gate Plaza site of grace, head out the door on the right if you've unlocked the shortcut, otherwise head left and follow the path around until you reach the burning boats. Look for the ladder leading down on the northeast side of the courtyard. There's a corpse lying on the ground next to it.

At the bottom of the ladder, turn right and head through the doorway behind the waterfall. There's another ladder ahead, again leading downwards. At the bottom, head left through a door to see a painting ahead. Hit the illusory wall on the right, between the two torches and head through here until you reach a coffin. Now it's time to take a ride, so climb inside.

You'll emerge in a partially flooded room. Head out of the door to the southeast to find the Castle Watering Hole site of grace, then head south across the shallow lake. Be warned, you will meet some Furnace Golems here, so brace yourself to be bombarded with fire as you run past. You'll find the Recluses' River Upstream site of grace at the top of the waterfall. 

Down the river to Abyssal Woods 

(Image credit: From Software)

Follow the rocky trail ahead, minding the gaps in the path. You'll soon spot some man-flies on the path ahead and you'll need to hop over to the opposite side. You should also see a stone altar just ahead, surrounded by gravebirds. Keep following the path on the right in a southerly direction, past more man-flies to find another grace ahead. This one is The Recluses' River Downstream.

From here, the path starts dropping downwards rapidly. Pick your way down and keep going in a southeast direction. It's possible to head northeast at this point to reach the wooded area here but we need to go further down to hit the Abyssal Woods. The path and the ledges get smaller here. You'll eventually get to a foggy, wooded area with statues and coffins littered across it. Head north to find the entrance to the Darklight Catacombs.

These catacombs are more like those you encounter in the main game on your way to the Consecrated Snowfield. They don't technically have a boss—you just need to make your way through them until you reach the other side. 

Once you emerge from the catacombs, a boss will be waiting for you. To take the pressure off, however, a Stake of Marika will save your progress, so don't stress too much if you don't get it first time.

With the boss taken care of, you're free to continue into the Abyssal Woods. Good luck—you're going to need it.

Sarah James
Guides Writer

Sarah started as a freelance writer in 2018, writing for PCGamesN, TechRadar, GamingBible, Red Bull Gaming and more. In 2021, she was offered a full-time position on the PC Gamer team where she takes every possible opportunity to talk about World of Warcraft and Elden Ring. When not writing guides, most of her spare time is spent in Azeroth—though she's quite partial to JRPGs too. One of her fondest hopes is to one day play through the ending of Final Fantasy X without breaking down into a sobbing heap. She probably has more wolves in Valheim than you.