We couldn’t let summer slide by without checking off troll hunting on our summer bucket list. This may have been one of my favorite activities that we did the ENTIRE summer, and let me tell you we packed a full summer! The Troll Hunt at The Morton Arboretum took us on an adventure through the entire Arboretum grounds. We came face-to-face with the huge guardians of the forest whose sole job is to protect the forests from human impact, as well as send to send a message about how to better care for the trees and environment. What an outstanding exhibit!
What are you waiting for? Let’s get ready to hunt for trolls!
Tips to enjoy Troll Hunt:
- Make it the Visitor Center your first stop. Grab a Troll Hunter’s Handbook from the visitor center. It will help give you approximate locations of the troll’s locations, or, if you’re so inclined, you can download the app. Since you’re at the center, it’s a perfect opportunity to go potty. You won’t find many other chances to go while hunting unless you want to use a port-a-potty.
- Plan to drive. If you have young kids, you will want to drive. The total hiking distance to find all the trolls is six to seven miles. According to the Arboretum staff, walking to see all the trolls will take about a 4-6 hour hike. With three young kids, that was so not going to happen.
- Bike. Another great way to explore the Arboretum grounds. If you don’t want to bring your own, sometimes rentals are available.
- Bring bug spray! You’ll be one with nature and bugs, so be prepared.
- Stay hydrated. Another obvious tip, but still an important one.
- Ride the Troll Hunt Trolley. For another fun experience, you can hop on the Troll Hunt Trolley where it will bring you to the areas for an hour and a half ride. You’ll still need to walk to find the trolls. It’s an additional cost of $10 for adults (age 18 and up) and $8 children ages 2 – 17.
- Visit the Troll Archives. Enhance your visit by visiting the Troll Archives located in the Sterling Morton Library, just a short walk from the Visitor Center. You’ll find a one-of-a-kind book related to the trolls you are hunting. Build a model hideout and discover more books about trolls and nature. The library is open Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Park at the Visitor Center. You can access two of the trolls while you are parked at the visitor center, or you can just grab the handbook and start your adventure by car or bike.
- Write down those clues! These clues lead to the secret hideout.
- One-way. If driving, follow the one-way road that goes around the Arboretum grounds.
- Now if you want to be surprised, I would stop reading after this point. I will give you spoilers and where the secret hideout it. But if you’re like me and like to be prepared, read on!
Our experience hunting for trolls:
Troll 1: Rocky Bardur
Parking: Visitor Center
We parked by the main entrance to the Visitor Center to grab the handbook. We were then able to walk to the first location. It was a nice, paved stroll around the pretty Meadow Lake.
Troll 2: Sneaky Socks Alexa
Parking: Visitor Center
We headed back to the path surrounding the lake. We had to cross the street to see Sneaky Socks Alexa. We first caught eye of our legs and feet peeking out, then we went around to the front and found her patiently waiting to trap her next victim.
Troll 3: Joe the Guardian
This may have been my favorite troll. After parking, you’ll need to walk through the open trail up a huge hill where Joe the Guardian is overlooking the highway.
Troll 4: Furry Emma
Expect a few minutes walk through the woods to find Furry Emma and her trap. She’s ready to capture her next victim in her net.
Troll 5: Niels Bragger
It was a short walk through the woods to find Niels Bragger holding a tree with one hand and club in the other.
Troll 6: Little Arturs
Okay, I have to be honest, by this time the heat and humidity had gotten the best of us. I had the beginnings of a migraine, the kids were cranky, and we were all hungry. We decided to skip Little Arturs, but we did see him on the way out and boy was he huge! I totally regret not stopping by since you can actually go in Little Arturs’ mouth. What a great photo op!
We actually stumbled upon the secret hideout as we were trying to find the last troll. Another stroll through the woods (again, make sure you have bug spray!), and we saw it!
What a neat, little area! They thought of every detail and there are picture-taking opportunities galore!
Did you know?
- Each troll was named by the artist in honor of a person who helped to build it.
- The car that Rocky Bardur “threw” a boulder at actually belonged to an arboretum employee. Instead of the car going to the scrap yard he decided to donate it to Dambo.
- Artist Thomas Dambo and a crew worked for 8 weeks to construct the trolls on the Arboretum’s grounds.
- Trolls measure 15- to 30-feet tall. One lying down in a meadow is 60 feet long.
- 360 wooden pallets were used to construct the trolls.
- Pieces of the trolls, including faces, hands, and feet, traveled 4,267 miles from the artist’s Copenhagen studio to The Morton Arboretum.
- A troll’s head measures 69 inches wide from ear to ear.
- A troll’s foot measures 57 inches long.
- 84,000 screws were used to build the trolls.
Troll hunting was SO much fun! What a great way to explore Arboretum grounds and see whimsical pieces of art in nature. This was one of our favorite activities of the summer.
Location: 4100 Illinois Rt. 53, Lisle
Hours: 7 a.m. to sunset
Parking: Plenty of parking at the lot.
Stroller-friendly? It may get a little crowded with the stroller. There is a stroller parking available.
Crowded: We visited on a late afternoon on Saturday, and it wasn’t too crowded. It took us about an hour and 15 minutes to see (almost) everything by car.
Have you gone troll hunting lately?