Seattle Travel
The Complete History of the Fremont Troll

The Complete History of the Fremont Troll

Post last updated November 17, 2023

The Fremont Troll is a classic Seattle landmark and one of the quirkiest things Seattle is known for. Find the city’s favorite troll under the Aurora Bridge in the eccentric Fremont neighborhood that’s lovingly dubbed “The Center of the Universe.” 

The Fremont Troll is one of those Seattle landmarks that’s impossible to miss when you’re in the area. Visitors and residents should all plan to see it at least once. The troll is often a stop on bus tours and it’s the perfect place for a photo op. Expect to see people climbing on its head and shoulders to snap a photo with the troll, especially in the summer!

It’s not just Seattlelites who love the troll, either. The Fremont Troll has been featured in movies, TV shows, and other unexpected media.

So what’s all this fuss about the troll? We’ll get into it right here!

This guide will walk you through the history of the Fremont Troll and how it came to be one of the most recognizable Seattle icons. We’ll go over some fun facts about the troll, how to visit it, and things to do in the area after you see it. 

What is the Fremont Troll?

The Fremont Troll is a large-form Seattle sculpture in the Fremont neighborhood. The troll is made out of concrete, and it weighs a whopping 13,000 pounds. At 18 feet tall, it’s an impressive sculpture to behold. It’s been in the same place beneath the Aurora Bridge for over thirty years. 

The Story Behind the Fremont Troll

It all started with an art contest. 

In 1990, the area beneath the Aurora Bridge was in desperate need of reform. It was regularly filled with trash, needles, rodents, and other waste. In a neighborhood that was embracing growth and development, this became a hazardous eyesore.

Enter the Fremont Arts Council. This neighborhood group was determined to clear out and revitalize the area, transforming it from a dumping ground into something special. Naturally, it decided art was the answer. 

The council launched an art contest. Many ideas were cast, but it was the one for the troll that prevailed. It was quirky, off-beat, and inspired by Norwegian folklore – perfect for the neighborhood.

The four artists responsible for the idea – Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Donna Walter, and Ross Whitehead –  began working on the troll that same year. It was unveiled on Halloween.

4 Fun Facts About the Fremont Troll

With such an interesting story, it only makes sense that there have been some fun happenings around the Fremont Troll over the years. Here are four fun facts about the Fremont Troll.

  1. One unique feature of the Fremont Troll is the Volkswagon Beetle it’s crushing in its hand. The car was a real VW Beetle that was encased entirely in concrete. It once had a time capsule inside of it, but, sadly, this was stolen.
  1. The troll is so popular, it’s been featured in lots of pop culture media. The most notable feature was in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. But that hasn’t been its only appearance. A fictionalized version of the troll was in the TV series Once Upon A Time. It also appears briefly in an indie video game called Life Is Strange.
  2. Despite being a Fremont landmark for 30 years, it hasn’t always looked the same. The Fremont Troll has been dressed up, made up, and, unfortunately, periodically vandalized. There’s regular upkeep to restore it to its intended appearance.
  3. Every Halloween, the Fremont Arts Council throws a birthday party for the troll. This “Trolloween” party includes live music, a pageant, and costumes. People meet to party at the troll and it ends with a fun neighborhood haunt.

How to Visit the Fremont Troll

The Fremont Troll is not too difficult to visit, and you have plenty of options for how to get there. Here are my top suggestions for visiting this Seattle landmark.

Driving & Rideshares: It will take you approximately 15 minutes to drive to the Fremont Troll from downtown Seattle, depending on traffic. 

Parking can be a bit tricky in this area. There’s no official parking lot for visiting the Fremont Troll. I suggest looking for free street parking or being okay with parking a little further away and walking. The Gas Works Park parking lot is a good option if you’re okay with a 10-minute walk from the park to the troll.

If you take a rideshare here, you can be dropped right in front of the troll.

Bus: The bus is a great way to get to the Fremont Troll. The buses that will drop you closest are the 5, 28, 40, and 62 bus lines. It takes about 20 minutes to get from downtown Seattle to the Fremont Troll. 

Take a Tour: There are several great tours that have stops in Fremont for photo ops with the Fremont Troll. 

Try this 3-hour bus tour with stops in Fremont and tons of other top Seattle attractions like Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, and Discovery Park.

You could also book this quirky walking tour which will take you through Fremont to look at all the funky sculptures in the neighborhood, including, of course, the ever-popular Fremont Troll.

What to Do in Fremont

So you got a chance to see the Fremont Troll… now what? 

Don’t worry, you’re only a few blocks away from the commercial center of Fremont where you’ll find tons of restaurants, cafes, shops, bars, and much more. There are plenty of other things to do in Fremont, and here are my top five suggestions:

Grab a beer at Fremont Brewing’s Urban Beer Garden – This local craft brewery is one of Seattle’s best. Grab a bowl of free pretzels and a flight of its core beers to enjoy in the plant-filled beer garden. It’s just a five-minute walk from the troll.

Bike along the Burke Gilman Trail – This 20-mile trail runs from Ballard all the way to Bothell! The Burke Gilman Trail is a great option for bikers who want some exercise or a convenient way to get from one neighborhood to the next. Just rent a bike from nearby evo Seattle and hop on the trail!

Dine on tasty Turkish food at Cafe Turko – Fremont is full of great restaurants and a few blocks south of the troll you’ll find one standout. Head to Cafe Turko to dine on tasty, reasonably-priced Turkish food. Specialties include kebabs, dolmas, and musakka.

Shop along 36th Avenue – Shop for plants, records, books, vintage clothes, and much more along 36th Ave. Stop by the popular Fremont Sunday Market for even more shopping options if you visit on Sunday.

Check out a show at Nectar Lounge – Hanging out in Fremont late into the evening? Make sure to head to Nectar Lounge, one of the city’s best live music venues. There are exciting shows to catch nearly every night and an upbeat atmosphere permeates the venue.

And there you have it! Now you know the story behind the Fremont Troll and how to visit. The next time you’re in the Fremont neighborhood, don’t skip out on saying hi to the city’s favorite troll beneath the bridge.

Ashleigh on ferry Island hopping.

Hi, I'm Ashleigh! Welcome to Seattle Travel, my little piece of beautiful PNW. This is home and I'm here to share all my experiences so visitors and locals alike can find the best experiences this part of the country has to offer. I started Seattle Travel in 2012 as a way to journal my experiences and over the years have been encouraged by family and friends to open up my adventures to everyone. I actively seek out the best food, activities, and day trips and give you a local perspective.  The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful areas in the world and my goal is to let you explore it to the fullest. 

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