Several years ago I read an article about an artist named Thomas Dambo. He crafted a series of trolls, mysterious creatures—resembling the trolls of European folklore, out of recycled materials and hid them all around Copenhagen. The first troll hunt began with a poem providing clues to their location.
The website left clues “Go on a treasure hunt to find The Six Forgotten Giants in the western municipalities of Copenhagen: Rødovre, Hvidovre, Vallensbæk, Ishøj, Albertslund and Høje Taastrup.”
These are no ordinary trolls, they are MASSIVE. The detail Thomas and his volunteers provided to give life to the whimsical creature is breath taking. Thomas and his volunteers painstaking create the trolls from reclaimed wood and found objects. I thought it would be such a fun adventure to wander and hunt for them, hidden among the trees or beneath a bridge, such fun.
Alas, a trip to Copenhagen was not on the agenda for a while.
THEN, as if he KNEW how much I wanted to see them [not that the artist knew anything about me, ha ha] I found out that Thomas Dambo was bringing his talents to the Morton Arboretum .
Joy, just pure joy to find “The trolls share the Arboretum’s desire to care for trees; however, they seem suspicious of humans. We need you to join the investigation and help trolls and humans come to understand each other. What will you discover when you join the hunt?”
I was so excited, I felt like a little kid. They are so close, I HAD to go on my own troll hunt and I knew just the person to go with me.
My good friend Jeannie had never heard of the famous trolls. So I sent her the link to the first Troll Hunt, and we agreed that we needed to go.
We scheduled our adventure, packed appropriate shoes and water and set off on a hot summer day.
There are 6 colossal trolls along the journey ranging from 15 to 30 feet tall (and one 60-foot long) that were created to serve as protectors of the environment. Of course, the Troll hunt is set up for kids of all ages to enjoy, so we dragged the Jeannie’s teenage daughter with. Thankfully, she is ALWAYS up for an adventure.
Visitors are greeted by a fierce looking troll who is not happy with the gas guzzling cars [because they are bad for the environment]. Park quickly so he doesn’t throw a rock at you!
Stop by the vistor’s center to pick up your map, because they are spread across the grounds. It is a Troll Hunt, after all.
Which begs the question, are we hunting the trolls or are the trolls hunting US?
I spy a giant basket, but be careful! Someone is hiding in the bushes. It’s Sneaky Socks Alexa patiently waiting to trap a human for as snack! We better get outta here and hunt for the next troll.
The longest trek up a hill [which seemed even larger in the heat of the summer sun] is Joe The Guardian. Joe is a massive beast that stands overlooking highway I-88, so you can see him if you drive by.
Do you see the teeny tiny people in the photo? Colossal is accurate. The detail is incredible. Doesn’t it look like Joe’s hair is blowing in the wind? That “lovely” mane is actually strategically placed sticks.
Whew, we made it back down the hill blistered a bit, but ultimately in one piece.
Next on our hunt we encountered another trap. Those trolls are certainly looking for a human snack. It looks like Furry Emma caught Jeannie in the net!
Lucky the flash of the camera caused a distraction and we were able to get away. We better get moving before she comes after us.
I have to confess, we cheated a bit. It was a hot day and the mosquitoes were wicked. Instead of the 6 to 7 mile hike, we drove to various parking areas on the map. You can do that, too. Just don’t let the trolls know we told you!
The trek continued to the wooded area and we found the next beast – Niels Bragger.
If you look carefully at the sign you can see one of those clues I mentioned earlier.
I hope you are keeping track on your journey so you can find the Troll Hideout!
The detail of each creation is incredible, from the facial expressions
to the details on his feet. Toenails, they have TOENAILS (and finger nails, too. Just in case you were wondering)
They each have such personality that you almost expect them to come to life and walk over to get a better look at YOU.
The final troll is (not so) Little Arturs, lazily outstretched, all 60 feet of him, laying on his back gazing up at the sky. Don’t get too close, because all that day dreaming makes a troll hungry!
Kids (or kids at heart) can climb up for a photo op and pretend to be a snack for Artus or pick his nose. Can you imagine the cobwebs he would get in those giant nostrils?
We visited all the trolls, but we had to assemble to clues because we were going to find that hideout.
Welp, I have another confession. We didn't find the hideout based on the clues. We ended up taking the path less traveled. Across the stream and up the hill to the Toll hideout. Don't judge, the mosquitoes were ready to carry us away.
Once again, the attention to detail did not disappoint. The kids will get a kick out of going in the intricately patterned hut and playing with troll tools – check out the size of that drum [and the slightly frightening dagger]
Whew, what a fabulous day. The trolls at the Morton Arboretum weren’t the same as scouring Copenhagen, but it was fun still the same. To stand in awe of these lifelike sculptures towering above us was a fun adventure, even made us feel a bit like little girls again.
If you are in Chicagoland, you can visit for a limited time
You can also check out the other Troll hunts that are now popping up all over the world. Oh what fun adventures await!
Which trolls would you like to see in person?
I hope you never stop wandering with child like eyes and going on adventures.