The Portland Troll Bridge
Usually the trolls under bridges are known for being scary, menacing little creatures, but not the ones at the Portland Troll Bridge. In fact, the trolls here are quite inviting with their bright and wild hair, funky outfits, jeweled bellies and happy little faces. If you’re visiting Portland, Oregon and looking for something to pass the time, the Troll Bridge is a fun adventure for adults and kids alike.
The Portland Troll Bridge is actually about 15 miles from the city center, located at 16498 NW McNamee Road. It will also pull up if you search for it in Google Maps. As you’re heading north on US-30 from Portland, McNamee Road will be a lefthand turn that sneaks up on you really quickly. It’s a small unassuming country road so make sure you’re paying attention to your navigation so you don’t have to slam on the brakes or make a U-turn (like us). The old, wooden railroad trestle isn’t too far up the road and you’ll see a pullout to the right where you can park your vehicle. Don’t be alarmed if the trolls have disappeared or there aren’t many there; from time to time they’ll get cleaned up or stolen. I know, kind of a bummer if you drive all the way out there and the trolls are gone, but if it makes you feel any better we’ve been lucky to see TONS of trolls there the three times we visited. You can help to populate the troll bridge too! If you have old trolls laying around, or can even find some of the new trolls in stores, consider taking one to “pay the troll toll.” Our friend Erin gifted us a bunch of trolls from her childhood collection so that we can pay the troll toll on our future visits (thanks, Erin!). You can see her trolls down below in one of the photos.
I’m sure you are wondering how this troll bridge ever came to be. Portland has a thriving art scene so it’s not too surprising that it’s home to a troll bridge. We also have that reputation for being a little “weird” and this definitely fits the theme. The trolls began appearing on the wooden railroad trestle back in the the early 2000s. According to origin stories I’ve found online, it all started when a mom started putting them on the bridge to surprise her kids. People from the community then started adding their own trolls and it evolved into a colorful community art installation. Although they’re cute little stinkers not everyone loves the troll bridge. Technically it is vandalism, and violates the Leave No Trace principles, but honestly we’re okay with it in this case—it’s art! It’s fun, nostalgic and puts a smile on your face, and I hope that the Portland Troll Bridge stands for years to come. It’s turned into one of our regular stops for all the guests who come to visit us in Portland.
If you’re heading out to the Troll Bridge there are some other cool sights near there, including Sauvie Island, Forest Park (one of the largest urban forests in the United States), and Cathedral Park, where you can also check out Portland’s most beautiful bridge, the St. John’s Bridge.
Thanks for reading! We’d love to hear what you think about the Portland Troll Bridge, tell us in the comments. Is it art or vandalism? What’s your favorite troll from the photos below? Do you prefer the old trolls or the new trolls? (Old trolls all the way for us, they have cuter faces and better outfits!) Is this something you’d visit if you were in Portland?