by Shae Pepper. Photos ©Shae Pepper Photography
Just under two hours away from Cincinnati there are beasties to be found. More specifically, there are three giant trolls to be found in the Bernheim Forest at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest. As if hunting for giant troll sculptures by world renowned artist, Thomas Dambo, wasn’t exciting enough, you can bring your furry friend(s) to keep you safe and sniff them out!
When you arrive, make your way to the visitor’s center to receive your map. It’s very well marked, so you may not need it, but it was helpful to have just in case. Make your way around to the back of the visitors center and you will find a small path leading down, covered in giant troll footprints (as seen above). Follow them to your first giant troll, Little Nis, who is staring at his reflection in the Olmstead Ponds. For obvious reasons, you’re asked not to stand on the sculptures, but there are great spots right next to them to get your picture.
Once you’ve found Lil Nis you carry on your journey through the forest and across the road. You’ll see flags, signs and more footprints to follow.
One great feature of this walk with your dog is all the sniffs. There are so many different terrains from sand and water to bridges and forest that your pet will not lack in mental stimulation. The second troll you will come to is Mama Loumari and the troll hideout.
Mama Loumari is indeed very big and presents a great place to get a lot of fun pictures with your pet. There are troll chairs in the hideout that serve as excellent dog thrones. Fun facts – Mama Loumari and the other trolls at Bernheim Arboretum are made from recycled bourbon barrels—you are in Kentucky after all! The dragon skull and unicorn horn in the trolls hideout are fashioned from Louisville Slugger wood that couldn’t be used for the production of bats for various reasons and were donated to the project.
The final giant troll you will find is Little Elina, Lil Nis’s sister and Mama Loumari’s daughter. She is in an open area with a lot of logs for sitting and viewing the sculpture. She has a large fan shape next to her designed from rocks, but planks have been added for children (and pups) to cross over. This is the final stop in the giant troll hunt, therefore you can turn and make your way back the way you came or you can continue to explore the Arboretum.
The Arboretum has a lot more land for walking and picnic tables if you want to bring lunch for you and your dog. So if you’re looking for a day trip with your pets that’s near Cincinnati and want to see something truly special, the drive to Bernheim Forest is worth it. There is a recommended donation of $10 per car for entry, making it a very cost effective day out.
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is located at 2075 Clermont Rd, in Clermont KY 41010. They are open year round. The forest is open 7:00 am to 8:00 pm and the Visitor Center is open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday and until 6:00 pm on weekends.
Full-time dog mom and traveler, Shae Pepper is on a 5 year, 50 state road trip with her husband, Stephen Pepper and their dog, Truffles. You can follow their adventures on their website, No Home Just Roam.