Forest Giants

This weekend found me stretching the limits of what I consider a day trip. Two days in a row I took longer trips including Saturday to Bernheim Forest near Louisville, Kentucky.

Why would I drive four hours one way to an arboretum when there are perfectly good arboretums much closer?

I’m so glad you asked.

The purpose of the trip was to visit a trio of famous forest giants. Meet Mama Loumari with her children Little Nis and Little Elina. A third baby giant is currently living in Mama’s belly.

Mama is the largest and has the most picturesque setting of them all.
Then there’s Little Elina.
And Little Nis, the smallest but perhaps my favorite because of the surreal quality of the reflection in the water.

They are the creation of Danish artist Thomas Dambo and have been on loan since 2019. They are located throughout the forest and are constructed of recycled wood from the region.

Dambo is a world renowned recycle artist based in Copenhagen. He has placed these trolls or forest giants all over the world including here in the US. If you are in Florida, Maine, Tennessee or Illinois there are trolls nearby!

And now I want to see them all.

They are incredibly realistic with expressions on their faces that seem almost human. The smooth, weathered wood is used in such a way that these sculptures have texture and dimension. They seem alive.

It’s easy to imagine they wake up at night, roaming the forest at will until sunrise and droves of visitors send them back to their stations along a woodland trail.

I was there late morning on Saturday. My next trip will be timed better both for avoiding the crowds and for better sun positioning for my pictures.

These guys are well worth a visit. Not to mention, Bernheim has been around for ninety years. With public art displays, a children’s garden, fire tower, education center, canopy tree walk and a cafe, it would be easy to spend an entire day here. There are forty miles of trails and plenty of places to stop and rest, read a book or just soak in your surroundings.

The loop to see the giants is about two miles. There also is limited parking near each giant if someone in your party has mobility issues.

Get this. Suggested admission is just $10 per car. That’s all you will pay to get in and wander around as long as you wish. I considered lunch at the cafe but the line was long and I was burning daylight with other places to visit so I skipped that. They have light sandwiches and salads including a vegan option if that’s your thing. It looked like I could have eaten for around $10 but I suspect you could pack a picnic if you wish.

Learn more about Thomas Dambo on his website and more about Bernheim Forest at theirs.

There is a lot to do in the Louisville area and you’re not far from Lexington where there’s even more to see and do. I actually really enjoy Lexington and would like to go back one of these days. My advice is to stretch this visit into a long weekend and take your time exploring Bernheim and the region.