It was 21 degrees and windy when I stepped onto the trail at Aullwood Audubon Saturday. It was a rare sunny day for Ohio and too beautiful to spend inside. So I went to visit Thomas Dambo’s trolls or forest giants as they are sometimes called. You can read about them here.
It was surprising to find the place mostly empty but I didn’t complain one bit. It was refreshing to feel the wind in my hair and to breath fresh, cool air.
It’s about a three mile loop to see the trolls. I also paused for a while in the barn, visiting the farm animals and the barn cats who keep things in order.
The highlight of the day though was seeing a mink in the wild. Something that resembled a black squirrel scurried across the trail ahead of me. I stopped to get a better look and was surprised when it turned to face me and I realized it was a mink.
Sadly, I stood there holding a cell phone in one hand and a camera in the other, gaping like a fool. I missed the photo op. Sigh. In case you aren’t familiar with the mink, here’s a photo from WHIO TV.
What a cute little face!
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says that mink are commonly found in every Ohio county. Yet, they aren’t commonly seen because they are quick and they are good at hiding.
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.
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.
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.
Doesn’t this look like the kind of place where a troll would live? Every time I cross it, the phrase “once upon a time” parades through my mind. Then I wonder if I’ll be smart enough to solve the troll’s riddle.