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There Are Giant Trolls Amongst Us

Let me introduce you to my buddy, Isak Heartstone.

Don’t let his size intimidate you. Even though he’s a good 15 feet tall, sitting down, Isak is a pretty chill dude. He really likes having people come visit him.

Photo of Izak Heartstone, a 15 foot tall sculpture made of wood scraps, sitting in the snow with tall trees.
Don't be afraid of the big guy, Isak loves visitors. **

Isak lives in Breckenridge, Colorado. If that’s a little outside your travel range maybe you can visit one of his brothers or sisters living in Ohio, Florida, Tennessee or one of nine other places around the world.

Even better, his family continues to grow and spread out to new locations.

Isak, and his siblings, are the magical creations of Thomas Dambo, an artist based in Copenhagen, Denmark.

All of the trolls are made from recycled materials, old shipping pallets and found wood. His hope is to inspire everyone to have fun and think of trash as a resource.

In this time of climate change and the ever-growing wastefulness of our planet’s resources, his is a great message of re-using, upcycling, old materials into something new rather than continuing to load it all into landfills.

Photos of upcycled wood art. Left one looks like a peace symbol and the right is a cross.
Two of my upcycled wood pieces. Not nearly the size of Isak. **

As someone who has made a fair share of upcycled art pieces using similar materials, I was just tearing down a pallet for future use this past weekend, Dambo’s mission strikes especially close to my heart.

Isak came to life in 2017 as part of the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts, a 10-day celebration held each August.

His original home was along the side of Breck Mountain, just outside Breckenridge. In a good news/bad news story, Isak was so popular that residents in the area soon felt overrun by the traffic. The local town council was considering killing him, removing him forever.

Thankfully, Isak’s story has a happy ending. Dambo returned to Breckenridge in 2019, dismantled Isak and moved him, well, parts of him, to his new and current home. Dambo used the original head, heart, hands and feet, but had to rebuild the body so he would sit comfortably amongst the trees in a new home.

(I’m not entirely sure if that sounds like something out of the Wizard of Oz – if I only had a heart, a brain – or Frankenstein’s Monster. I’m going with Oz.)

And yes, Isak really does have a heart:

Visiting Isak

Isak is easy to get to. For complete information head on over to the Go Breck website.

Photo of author with Izak Heartstone, giant troll sculpture, in background.
Don't look now but there's a giant troll looking over my shoulder. **

Briefly, his new home is just south and east of the Stephen C West Ice Arena, on the southern edge of downtown Breckenridge.

The website says there is no public parking but I think that depends on what time of year you are there. I was there in March and could have easily parked. None-the-less, I was ready for a hike anyway and walked there from my hotel in the heart of downtown Breckenridge, barely a mile’s distance.

Once you are at the back corner of the parking lot look for a sign that says Illinois Creek Trailhead. You’ll find Isak a short walk, veering slightly to your left, just down the trail.

A word of warning. If you go when there is snow on the ground, the trail can be extremely slippery, no exaggeration. The footsteps of previous visitors pack down the snow and when the heat rises, the snow melts, turning it into ice. Make sure you are wearing appropriate shoes.

Nearby Trails and Railroad Park

If you want to do more exploring and get a little more exercise in, there are some nice trails heading up into the woods behind the ice skating center. They are a very easy walk over just slightly rolling hills.

Photo of hiking trail, through the snow and between tall pine trees.
The trails nearby to Isak make for a pleasant walk, winter or summer. **

One way to enter them is simply to take a right at that Trailhead sign you first encounter when visiting Isak and follow your nose.

Another is behind the High Line Railroad Park. The park is located just on the opposite side, west, of the ice arena. You can’t miss it, there’s a big old black locomotive parked just off the street that sits in front of the park.

The park is a nice little spot for families with small children and history and railroad buffs will enjoy seeing the train and museum located nearby. (The museum is only opened seasonally so check the website.)

I won't say Isak and I spoke but we certainly bonded. I mean, after all, my DNA shows I am half Scandinavian. Sounds like I need to plan some future trips to see his brothers and sisters around the country.


**I allow use of my photos through Creative Commons License. I'm not looking to make money off this thing. I only ask you provide me with credit for the photo by noting my blog address,, or a link back to this page.


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