From the top of the Straight Stair the path from Morgul Valley continued onwards as a dark passage hemmed in by towering rock walls, but without steps and climbing as just a gentle slope. After some miles the right-hand wall ended and then the path was between a cliff and a chasm. This gently sloped section ended at a new rock wall where the Winding Stair began.
The Winding Stair did not delve into the mountains of the Ephel Dúath; instead the cliff-face sloped back and the stairway snaked to and from across it. At one point one of the turns overlooked the vast ravine at the head of Morgul Valley. The stair still writhed on from this point until it came to a final flight, short and straight. Beyond the stair was a cleft through which the path led to Cirith Ungol.
Frodo and Sam followed Gollum up the Winding Stair on 12 March, T.A. 3019. After reaching the top of this second set of stairs the two hobbits sat in a crevice and had a bite to eat before facing the tunnel ahead.