The giant troll in Issaquah is now open to the public. I had the privilege of attending the opening ceremony while watching the artist and volunteers cast the finishing touches on the sculpture. Nestled in a forest in the lowlands of the Issaquah Alps and on the Rainier Trail, this newest troll is named “Jakob 2 Trees.”
Six giant troll sculptures are making their way to the Pacific Northwest, courtesy of Danish artist Thomas Dambo and The Way of the Bird King project (I call it The Giant Troll Adventure). Trolls have already been revealed in Portland, Bainbridge Island and West Seattle, with the most recent addition in Issaquah. The last two trolls (on Vashon Island and in Ballard) will be completed in the coming weeks.
Inspiration behind each troll
A Scandinavian fairytale inspires each troll in The Way of The Bird King project, and the designs of individual trolls are influenced by the environments in which they are constructed. The sculptures are built with recycled and found materials, emphasizing sustainability and environmentalism. The trolls are a beautiful example of art and nature coexisting in harmony.
Connections to the Coast Salish
Jakob 2 Trees has connections to the native Coast Salish people as well.
At the opening ceremony, a member of the local Snoqualmie Tribe shared with visitors about the connection between art and nature, as well as the collaboration between the artist and the Snoqualmie Tribe, pointing out that his niece hand-wove the 21-foot-long section of cedar that adorns Jakob’s wrist and hair.
The giant troll in Issaquah: Where is it?
Finding each of Dambo’s giant trolls is an adventure; exact locations are a public secret. When you’re ready to find Jakob 2 Trees, park near the Issaquah Community Center (there is plenty of free parking in the parking lots) and head out on the adjacent Rainier Trail (Hint: Look for a tower of whimsical, colorful birdhouses as a wayfinder to know you’re on the right path!). The troll is a short two-minute walk from the community center along the trail.
Finding the giant troll in Issaquah and on the Rainier trail
Stretching about 2.5 miles from end to end, Rainier Trail is fully paved and ADA-accessible–bring bikes or scooters to explore more of the trail during your troll-hunting adventure! Leashed dogs are welcome on Rainier Trail; there is even a dog park down the trail from the community center.
If anyone needs a mid-troll-hunt potty break, public restrooms are inside the Issaquah Community Center (open Monday-Friday 7:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., closed on Labor Day weekend). There’s also a port-o-potty near the community center if you arrive outside their operating hours.
Find the giant troll in Issaquah, then stay awhile
With so many amazing places to explore, allow some extra time in your schedule to discover more of Issaquah while you’re in the area.
Stop by the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery for a dose of wildlife and to view one of nature’s most miraculous migrations. Although the hatchery is open to the public year-round, autumn is the most active salmon viewing time. Throughout September and October, visitors can view thousands of native salmon returning to their waters of origin. Free public hatchery tours are available daily during the busy autumn months (More information on tours can be found on the fish hatchery FAQ page).
Yummy treats and park play
If you work up an appetite on your adventure, stop by Boehm’s Candies and Chocolates –a local favorite for over 80 years–for a sweet treat. Inspired by a Swiss Chateau, this confectionary factory and shop offers hand-made chocolates, truffles, fudge, caramels, and more (I hear trolls LOVE chocolate…). They also offer a self-guided tour to learn more about the chocolate-making process while you’re there.
After you emerge from your chocolate coma, head down the street to Sunset Beach at Lake Sammamish State Park (Discover Pass required for parking). The enormous sea-inspired playground has something to entertain every age of explorer: swings, slides, ziplines and even musical instruments. Next to the playground is a large sandy beach where kids can dig, build sand creations and splash in the freshwater of Lake Sammamish. Keep your eye out for the resident bald eagles that make their homes along the lakeshore.