Breckenridge is filled with short, easy hikes easily accessible from downtown, but perhaps the most noteworthy is the iconic hike to the Breckenridge Troll.
A troll you might ask? This artistic rendition of a troll is made of natural wood elements and he goes by the name of Isak Heartstone. This 15 foot tall sculpture is charmingly sweet and well worth a visit.
The Breckenridge Troll Artist
Thomas Dambo is the Danish artist who created the Breckenridge Troll. He is a recycling activist and sought to inspire others to create and reuse materials for his submission to the Breckenridge International Festival of the Arts in August of 2018.
He named the gentle giant, Isak Heartstone, and created his completely out of scrap wood and recycled materials.
Dambo has created over 50 other trolls around the world as well! Have you ever come across his other creations in Miami, Jackson Hole, or perhaps, Belgium? Check out this fun map (https://trollmap.com/) to plan out future adventures searching for the trolls.
The Breckenridge troll originally made his home on the side of Breck Mountain, however, a year later, he was moved to different location due to the large number of visitors (thousands daily!) and complaints from the residents.
Some were planning to deconstruct the culture, but Dambo instead reconstructed Isak in his new (and hopefully permanent!) home. He used his original head, heart, and limbs, but constructed a new body in November 2019. Legend has it that a few girls brought Isak a heart shaped stone, which then inspired his chosen name, and the stone remains a permanent feature at the site.
Directions to the Breckenridge Troll Location
The Breckenridge Troll is accessed via the Trollstigen Trailhead right next to the Illinois Creek Trailhead, on the far end of the parking lot for the Stephen C. West Ice Arena. The troll is located in the beautiful White River National Forest.
There is a free parking lot right next to the Breckenridge Troll trailhead. A sign labeled “Troll” will direct you, but be sure to check the signs when parking to make sure you don’t accidentally park in the Ice Arena customer parking area. Please note, that this lot is pretty small and will likely only have an available spot if you visit early or late in the day.
Getting around Breckenridge is very easy! The town is encouraging all visitors to visit without using a car to preserve its history and to keep the town beautifully green. To help make this possible and convenient, they have several options for easily getting around.
The Breck Free Ride Shuttle is your best option to visit car-free and it can drop you right at the trailhead. You can either take the Breck Free Ride shuttle (Gray Route) or the Main Street Trolley. The shuttle picks up every 20 minutes; check times. Here. https://www.breckfreeride.com/
You can also park downtown and use public transportation and your two walking feet to get around an soak up the fresh air. Parking is very reasonable priced. Use the Passport Parking app for paying for parking and adding more time when you spend more time walking around and admiring the troll than you expected!
Street parking is available as well as several lots. The closest downtown parking lot to the trailhead is the F Lot. From your parking spot, you can either take the Breck Free Ride shuttle (Gray Route) or the Main Street Trolley, or you can walk to the trailhead which is about .8 miles from the F Lot. Map it to the Ice Arena for accurate directions.
How Far is the Breckenridge Troll Hike?
So…the hike is so short that you might more appropriately call it a short walk, but it is in the woods and very lovely! It is ¼ mile down the path until you reach the troll.
Start at the Trollstigen Trailhead on the south end of downtown Breckenridge next to the Stephen C. West Ice Arena, just off of Main Street. The parking lot features troll footprints in the pavement to direct you the right way.
This easy path is great for visitors of all ages. The path is not paved but is well maintained (except in winter), so is flat and wide, making it possible for all ages and abilities as well as strollers.
The path is constructed of a wooden boardwalk and also paved stones. Wheelchairs might be possible, but the path is not constructed specifically to accommodate them, so it might be a bit tight or rough.
The Best Time to Visit the Troll
There is no bad time to visit the Breckenridge Troll! The trail is never closed and is open year-round.
Due to the troll’s popularity, you are likely to find large crowds when visiting. In order to avoid them, we recommend visiting Isak first thing in the morning or later evening.
Please do note that despite the beauty of visiting Isak in the snow, the trails aren’t maintained in the winter, so tread carefully if you visit then. Slippery ice, deep snow, or mud are likely.
Important Things to Remember when Visiting the Troll
The town of Breckenridge (and I!) strongly remind you to LEAVE NO TRACE. This refers to dropping your trash, as well as preserving the art of Isak and remembering not to climb on him.
Your dogs are welcome! Just please refer to the above and remember to leave no trace and keep them on a leash.
Bring your camera! Photos are encouraged with or without you in them. You can stand next to Isak or behind him. However, drones are prohibited.
The Breckenridge Troll is popular! Avoid the late morning and afternoon for a more peaceful visit and easier time getting your photos.
There are no restrooms at the Breckenridge Troll.
Other Activities Near the Breckenridge Troll
While visiting the troll is a must-do activity in Breckenridge, it doesn’t take up much time. So be sure to add in some other great activities in Breckenridge!
Shop + Eat: The Breckenridge Troll is within a few minutes’ walk of downtown, so shops and restaurants abound with plenty of places to grab a bite to eat or pick up a souvenir. We are particularly fond of Mountain top Cookie Shop, Ollie’s happy hour, and the Christmas Shoppe for a travel ornament for our tree.
Hike the Illinois Gulch Trail: This hike starts at the same spot as the troll hike, so it is kind of a no-brainer! Extend your time in the beautiful forest and take the two mile out-and-back trail through the gorgeous scenery before returning to your car.
Bring a Picnic: There are a few picnic tables tucked in under the trees along the trail, so feel free to bring your lunch or dinner along for a beautiful meal in the forest. Don’t forget to pack out your trash.
Relax Near the Blue River: The river running through town is a beautiful feature of downtown and welcomes you for a summer day splash, a great spot for eating a carry out meal, or listening to a local street musician.
Stop by the Visitor’s Center: The center offers a map of the area’s features, a Scavenger Hunt for kiddos ($10), a clean restroom, and exhibits about the history of the town.
Ride the Free Gondola: The free BreckConnect Gondola is free and a great way to see the scenery! Take a peaceful, stunning ride up to Peak 8. If you want to partake in the activities, we highly recommend the (not-so-free) Alpine Slide!
FAQs for the Visiting the Troll in Breckenridge
Is visiting the troll in Breckenridge free?
Yes! It sure is. Admission is free as well as parking if you get lucky.
How long is the hike to the Breckenridge Troll?
The hike is a half mile roundtrip and is very flat and easy.
Is the Breckenridge Troll hike open?
The Breckenridge Troll is always open 365 days a year.
Are bikes allowed on the path to the troll in Breckenridge?
No. You can bike to the trailhead, but not on the trail.