Where is the Breckenridge Troll? How to Find the Trollstigen Trail

by Ryan Nicholson | Last Updated:  June 25, 2021

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The Breckenridge Troll is a 15-foot sculpture made out of recycled and scrap wood.

You can hike to visit the Troll all year round, anytime of day. But please know that this sculpture is Breckenridge’s most popular outdoor art exhibit.

In fact, due to the sheer popularity in previous years, the Breckenridge Troll did not survive his first location.

Still, he still resides in Breckenridge, Colorado with a more secluded and wooded home. 

The hike to see him is very easy and great for all skill levels. This free outdoor activity is fun for the whole family.

Here is how to find the Breckenridge Troll and what to expect.

Where is the Breckenridge Troll?

Isak Heartstone, also known as the Breckenridge Troll, is located on the Trollstigen Trail in the town of Breckenridge, Colorado.

When Isak was first created in 2018, he was installed near the residential Wellington neighborhood down near the East Wellington Trail.

Later that same year, his installation started to go viral online and with that a trove of visitors came to see him.

Some days he would see more than 3,000 visitors, and this made Breckenridge locals and government officials take notice.

Due to traffic and large amounts of trail use, there was a lot of controversy and he was removed completely. 

Eventually though, Breckenridge residents and city officials had him rebuilt and moved to a new home and new trail.

In 2019, he was finally relocated to his current home near the Stephen C. West Ice Arena parking lot. 

The Trollstigen Trail is next to the Illinois Gulch Trailhead, which is located near the southeast corner of the lot.

Who built the Breckenridge Troll?

Danish artist Thomas Dambo is a talented creator who crafted Isak Heartstone, as well as dozens of other sculptures like this.

As an artist, Thomas Dambo is based in Copenhagen, Denmark and is passionate about bringing worldwide awareness to recycling and upcycling.

All of his creations are made from items like scrap lumber, metal, or rocks that have been thrown out or discarded. 

In fact, Isak is the 40th recycled wooden troll that Dambo has crafted. 

Isak Heartsone was specifically created as part of the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts (BIFA) in 2018. It was commissioned for $40,000.

How did the Breckenridge troll get his name? 

the breckenridge troll

Isak Heartstone got his name after three local girls visited him and gave him a stone shaped like a heart. 

Thomas installed it as a permanent part of the sculpture so it would forever be known as Breckenridge’s beloved trail troll.

In respect to Isak and Thomas, please adhere to “leave no trace” practices during your visit, and leave the surroundings as pristine as possible.

How long is the troll hike in Breckenridge?

The Trollstigen Trail is a very easy trail and was built for all skill levels. 

The path starts at the parking lot and goes out and back for about half a mile.

There are multiple spots to park and walk or bike to the Trollistgen Trail in Breckenridge.

However, the easiest is to park in the public lot near the Stephen C. West Ice Arena.

The trailhead is visible from the parking lot and connects to the Illinois Gulch Trailhead.

If you want to simply visit the Breck Troll you can do so in an 8-10 minute walk roundtrip.

Or you can choose to hike the entire 1 mile loop, making Isak part of several stops along the trail.

How to find the Breckenridge Troll

the-troll-hike-in-breckenridge

When visiting the Breckenridge Troll there are lots of options available, from walking, hiking, biking or taking the bus. 

Here is how to find Isak Heartstone and directions for how to get there.

Walking or biking

If you’re visiting Breckenridge for the day, you can park downtown and hike or bike to see the Troll. 

The easiest parking available will be in the South & North Gondola Lots, which are paid lots in the middle of town.

Or if you’re looking for free parking in Breck, park in the Satellite Lot via I-70 and ride the Breck Free Ride bus into town.

The Breckenridge Tourism Board recommends that visitors start in the middle of the historic downtown area. 

Stop by the Breck Welcome Center and enjoy the newly renovated Riverwalk area.

Take a bathroom break, grab a snack, and take some photos along any of the several bridges near the creek.

Then, when you’re ready, walk, bike, or take the bus to Isak Heartstone’s location.

Hiking to the Trollstigen Trail takes about 15-20 minutes from downtown. Or a quick 5-minute bike ride.

How to walk to the troll

The Breckenridge Welcome Center is located at 203 S. Main Street. From here, head south toward Peak 9.

Take a left at the light on Boreas Pass Road and continue for about one-quarter mile.

You will see the Stephen C. West Ice Rink on your right as you pass the Railroad Park.

You should see a “Troll” sign as you enter the parking lot. This is often called the troll parking lot!

The Trollstigen Trailhead is located in the southeast corner by the Illinois Gulch trailhead. 

Just follow the Troll footprints on the pavement!

Free public transit

Free public transit is also readily available in Breckenridge. 

The Breck Free Ride regularly leaves the Breck Station, which is located next to the BreckConnect Gondola.

You can also download the Breck Free Ride app for free to see departure schedules and bus locations. 

Once you board the bus from the Welcome Center, the Troll Trail will be your 4th stop titled “Ice Rink”.

One thing we recommend is visiting the Troll and taking the free Gondola as part of a fun Colorado day trip.

You can park at the South or North Gondola Lots, and enjoy the free Gondola. 

Then, leave your car in the lot and jump on a free bus to the Trollstigen Trail.

Driving & parking

Is there free parking near the Breckenridge Troll? YES.

Contrary to what you might read on other guides or websites, THERE IS FREE PUBLIC PARKING NEAR THE TROLL.

Just be sure not to park in the Ice Arena parking lot as that is for members and customers only. 

This area is paid parking also, so read the signs carefully. 

But the lot directly next to this parking lot is available to the public for free. 

There is a “Troll” sign as you come into the lot so you know you’re at the right place.

Is the Breckenridge Troll open?

Yes, the Trollstigen Trail to the Breckenridge Troll is now open! Admission is free with free public parking nearby.

Isak Heartstone is Breckenridge’s most popular outdoor art exhibit, so it is often very busy.

The best times to visit the Breckenridge Troll is earlier in the morning before 10am or in the early evening after 5pm. 

Weekdays are also much less crowded than weekends in Breck.

Tips for visiting the Troll in Breckenridge  

The Trollstigen Trail is a well-maintained path that was built to be a one-way directional trail. 

This helps with traffic flow and makes it accessible for hikers with disabilities, small children, and strollers.

Hiking the Troll Trail

The first part of the trail is covered with stone pavers while the second half is made out of wooden slats that form a bridge above the often-marshy landscape.

This makes the trail a firm and stable, but not always smooth, hike. So, watch your step.

During the winter the trail is not cleared or maintained, and the Troll Trail can be icy, muddy, snowpacked and slick.

Hike with care!

Please stay on the marked trails and go with the flow of traffic. Do not take shortcuts or allow your kids or dogs to wander off the path.

Dogs must be leashed

Dogs are allowed on the Trollstigen Trail but must be leashed in order to keep the nearby terrain intact.

Per usual, please adhere to the “leave no trace” policies and clean up after yourself and your pets. 

Bikes are not allowed

Finally, it’s important to know that while you can bike to the Troll Trail, no bikes are allowed on the Trollisten path.

Before beginning your hike to see Isak, please dismount and store your bike in a secure place.

The path is only available on foot with no bicycles allowed.

The city of Breckenridge and its residents are proud hosts of Isak Heartstone. 

But the only way that everyone will continue to enjoy his presence is if we take care not to damage the Troll or the nearby trails.

Ryan Nicholson is a homegrown born and raised Colorado native. Being a rare unicorn to have grown up in CO, he has a unique perspective on the changes here and knows all the hidden spots to get outside in this state. Ryan's a classically French trained chef so he LOVES to try new foods and places to eat. When he's not experimenting in the kitchen or working as a personal chef along the Front Range, he loves to get outdoors and away from it all hiking, camping and backpacking.