Weekly Fact Sheet Week 3-The Ghost Trail
Trail completed: approximately 475 PM
Project duration: approximately five years
Elevation gain: 3, 249 feet from valley to top
Horizontal length of trail: 8 miles
Min/max trail width: 2.5 feet to 6 feet
Number of switchbacks: 15
Number of workers involved in constructing the trail: 107
Number of fatalities during construction: 20-25
Total number of fatalities since opening: 50+
Leading cause of injury or death: Falling or tripping, rockslides and falling debris, and weather related deaths
Length of official operation: 20 years
Original name: The Great Valley Trail
Purpose, construction, and closure: The Ghost Trail was originally created as a way of reducing travel time to and from the Valley of Gent. From Dames, reaching FreePort City would take at least a week, requiring travelers to venture around the outer edge of the cliffs, then north or south to the nearest port city (usually Limerock), where they would take a boat to FreePort. Traveling into the Valley itself to cities such as Sayfend or Redlands would add several more days to the journey, making the entire trip two to three weeks in length (and that was if the weather cooperated). In reality, Dames and the nearest fishing villages within the valley are separated by a mere five miles or less. Despite their close proximity, reaching the areas would require the lengthy trek already mentioned.
The Ghost Trail proved too dangerous to be of any use to travelers. Severe weather, dangerous landslides, and the lack of safety rails meant using the path was akin to inviting disaster. While more than 50 people have been killed or gone missing while climbing the cliffs, it is believed the actual number of fatalities directly or indirectly related to the trail is four or five times that.
Today The Ghost Trail is officially closed to the public. All of the natural history and visitor centers for the Cliffs of Gent are located away from the trail itself in an attempt to discourage would-be adventurers from getting anywhere near it. Large gates have been constructed at the top and bottom of the trail to further deter any thrill-seekers. Though it has been all but removed from the area’s history, every year a few foolish travelers attempt to climb the most dangerous trail on Atla.