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Plan an Outdoor Adventure to the Morton Arboretum Troll Hunt

Unfortunately the trolls are no longer on view at the Morton Arboretum. But I hope you enjoy this throwback to the unique outdoor installation!

Large troll sculpture in the trees at the Morton Arboretum Troll Hunt in Lisle, Illinois

Trolls have taken up residence in Lisle, Illinois to champion the trees! These gentle yet mischievous giants are hiding in one of the city’s most beautiful natural areas, but you can find them for yourself. The Morton Arboretum Troll Hunt is the perfect way to opt outside and enjoy the beauty of nature.

These six giant sculptures, created by Danish artist Thomas Dambo, resemble the trolls of traditional European folklore. You can find them tucked amongst the trees of Morton Arboretum, protecting the forest and causing occasional antics, through the end of the year.

Last month, I spent an afternoon wandering the arboretum with my family and experiencing this incredible installation. Before you head to Morton Arboretum, learn a bit about the trolls, read my tips for troll hunting success, and plan your visit.

About the Trolls

Giant wooden troll with a net at the Morton Arboretum Troll Hunt in Lisle, Illinois

The Morton Arboretum Troll Hunt began in the summer of 2018. The trolls were built by Danish artist Thomas Dambo from reclaimed wood. Dambo is an advocate for recycling materials and reducing waste. The trolls at Morton Arboretum are made of reclaimed wood from Sterling Lumber and salvaged pieces from the arboretum’s past construction projects. This is the artist’s first large-scale exhibit in the United States.

As we explored, I was amazed by the incredible detail of each sculpture. Not only are the trolls beautifully built, but they also include artfully crafted finger and toe nails as well as rippling armpit hair. Each of the trolls we encountered was perfectly situated to maximize the beauty of their environment.

Fist of a giant wooden troll at the Morton Arboretum Troll Hunt in Lisle, Illinois

Giant wooden troll armpit at the Morton Arboretum Troll Hunt in Lisle, Illinois

Tips for a Successful Troll Hunt

Giant wooden troll looking through bushes at the Morton Arboretum Troll Hunt in Lisle, Illinois

Before you embark on your Troll Hunt, there are a few things you need to do. Looking back on our experience, there are a few things that I wish I would have known before we set out.

When you arrive, stop in to the arboretum’s Visitor Center. Be sure to pick up both the arboretum map and Troll Hunter’s Handbook. You’ll need both to find all of the trolls hidden throughout the arboretum. Be sure to wear comfortable clothes and good walking shoes. While you can drive the path around the arboretum to get closer to the trolls you’ll still need to do some trekking through the forest.

Black and red sign for the Morton Arboretum Troll Hunt in Lisle, Illinois

Once you have all of your supplies, decide which direction you would like to set out in. Follow the red and black Troll Hunt signs that will let you know you’re getting close to a sculpture.

While the maps are helpful to determine the general area of a troll, they don’t give their exact location. The arboretum cautions that the trolls are skeptical of humans so they may sometimes be difficult to find. Remember that the journey is part of the adventure.

Giant wooden troll with a trap at the Morton Arboretum Troll Hunt in Lisle, Illinois

Giant wooden troll at the Morton Arboretum Troll Hunt in Lisle, Illinois

Remember, that above all else, these trolls are still pieces of art. Respect the sculptures so they stay in good condition for those who visit after you. Follow the advice of the arboretum’s posted signs—”Please hug but do not climb.”

Troll Hideout sign at the end of the Morton Arboretum Troll Hunt in Lisle, Illinois

After following the completed riddle, we had a blast exploring the Troll Hideout. This creative, woodsy scene is such a thoughtful way to end the Troll Hunt experience. The hideout is a great place to snap some photos, explore the troll’s over-sized accommodations, and enjoy the arboretum’s serenity.

Secret troll lair made of branches at the Morton Arboretum Troll Hunt in Lisle, Illinois

If you Plan Your Own Morton Arboretum Troll Hunt

Brick entrance of the visitor center at Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois

Wild flowers at Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois

No matter the season, the arboretum is a fantastic place to spend the day. The Morton Arboretum is open 365 days a year, and is home to more than 4,100 different types of trees and plants. This beautiful outdoor space has something for everyone. With 16 miles of wooded hiking trails and nine miles of paved roads for running and biking, there are lots of ways to experience everything the arboretum has to offer.

The Morton Arboretum Troll Hunt will be on view through the end of 2018. Depending on how the weather effects the trolls, they may still be on view for visitors to experience in 2019. Visitors can embark on their Troll Hunt by foot, or opt for a guided option. The Morton Arboretum also offers Troll Tram Rides, which take visitors on an hour and a half tour of all the troll sites for an additional fee.

Admission: $15 Adults / $13 Seniors (65+) / $10 Children ages 2 – 17

Hours: Daily / 7 am – Sunset

Morton Arboretum, 4100 IL-53 in Lisle, Illinois

Share Your Thoughts

I would love to hear from you! Have you been to Morton Arboretum? Did you experience this unique outdoor installation?

Plan a Morton Arboretum Troll Hunt of your own! Discover these unexpected sculptures in the beautifully wooded area of Lisle, Illinois. #MortonArboretum #Illinois

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Comments (10)

How fun is this!!! I will have to take my daughter when she gets a little older!

We had a blast! It definitely does involve a lot of walking to get to each sculpture though. Thanks for reading!

These trolls look amazing! I know my nephew would have a blast going on a Troll Hunt!

They’re so fantastic! I was really impressed with the whole installation. It’s definitely a fun activity for visitors of all ages!

I go to the Morton Arboretum every December for the Illuminations light show, but these trolls look like a lot of fun! The hunt makes a stroll through the forest seem like more of an adventure.

I have yet to make it for the Illuminations! After visiting the trolls this summer, I definitely need to get back later this year.

Those sculptures are so impressive. I’d love to take my family there.

Aren’t they!? They are all so beautifully made. Thanks for reading!

These pictures are fab! Thanks for the tips — we’re going on our hunt next weekend.

Thank you! I can’t wait to hear all about your experience. We had the best time on our Troll Hunt!

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