Bear. Elk. Deer.
Wildmen and Bigfoot.
People come to the Smokies for a lot of reasons, but one of the chief among them is to see wildlife.
But what if I told you that many of you are missing one of the coolest animal interactions in the mountains?
This one is for the more adventurous trekker. The person who is looking for a unique hiking adventure.
That’s right, we are talking about hiking with llamas in the Smoky Mountains.
Now before you get too excited, there is no one in the Smoky Mountains who is just going to hand you the reins of your very own llama. Rides on The Wheel over at the Island and lunch at Paula Deen’s with your new llama friend are out.
You can however spend a day petting llamas, feeding llamas and hiking with llamas at Smoky Mountain Llama Treks.
How much does it cost to hike with a llama?
At Smoky Mountain Llama Treks, owned by a pair of Michigan transplants – Steve and Johnna Garrett – who became enamored with the idea of a life in the mountains and hiking, there are three basic options at various price ranges.
The first option is essentially the petting zoo level, known as the Llama Farm Visit.
At the Llama Farm Visit, you can pet and feed the llamas, learn more about them and see where they live. There are also usually a few friendly dogs and alpacas on site.
The Llama Farm Visit, at the time of this writing, usually ranges from $14-$20 per person. Children three and under are free.
The second option is the Padgett Mill Lunch with Llamas.
At the Padgett Mill Lunch with Llamas, visitors can enjoy a guided trek through the mountains alongside their llama companion followed by a BYOL (bring your own lunch) dining experience with your new furry bestie.
At the time of this writing, the Padgett Mill Lunch with Llamas option ranges from $50-$65 per person.
Lastly, for those who wish to skip lunch and just partake in a Llama Trek, you have several options. Each includes a brief llama meet and greet prior to departure.
Hikers may choose from five different trails
At the time of this writing, trail options include:
- Padget Mill Trek (Hike only, sans lunch)
- Foxfire Trek
- Trident Trail
- Moonshine Trail
The Padgett Mill Trek is about a mile long and typically takes an hour to hike. The Padget Mill Trek is okay for older kids but is generally considered to be a strenuous hike.
This journey is normally guided by owner Steve Garrett who, as a natural-born storyteller, loves to regale his guests with inspirational stories about his life and the unique set of circumstances that brought him to East Tennessee. The trail itself features inspirational and uplifting signs throughout.
The Foxfire Trek is located at Foxfire Adventure Park.
On the Foxfire Trek, guests get to see a waterfall and cross a swinging bridge.
New for 2021-2022, Llama Treks is also introducing two new trails to the lineup: The Trident Trail and the Moonshine Trail.
The Trident Trail, named after the Navy Seal Trident Pin, is a more intensive hike that is not recommended for kids but offers the best mountain views and best scenery.
The Moonshine Trail runs through Outdoors in the Smokies and takes guests through the mountains to see old moonshine stills.
Each trek is led by an experienced guide. But the llamas are generally pretty easy to walk.
If you happen to drop the rope during the hike, your llama is unlikely to wander too far. It will most likely scout out a patch of wild blackberries or nibble mountain wildflowers while it waits for you to pick the rope back up.
At the time of this writing, most of these trails run between $35-$90 per person.
If partaking in a Llama Trek, it is important to note that children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.
Overnight treks and extended treks are no longer available.
Can you ride the llamas at Smoky Mountain Llama Treks?
At Smoky Mountain Llama Treks you can hike beside your llama, but no, you cannot ride them. Llamas cannot generally support the weight of a human directly on their spines.
Can you feed the llamas?
Yes, you can feed the llamas. You can also bring your own snacks for your new furry friends.
Llamas prefer oatmeal cookies, graham crackers and bananas.
Can you pet the llamas? Do they spit?
Llamas are generally considered to be gentle pack animals with a kind character.
Smoky Mountain Llama Treks proudly touts that their exceptionally friendly llamas do not spit, kick or bite. The llamas enjoy being petted and some enjoy being hugged.
And like people, some have their own personalities and boundaries.
In fact, Smoky Mountain Llama Treks says some of its lovable llamas even enjoy kisses. But let me just say, do not go to the mountains and start kissing strange llamas. We live in a society, for goodness sake.
Where is Smoky Mountain Llama Treks located?
Smoky Mountain Llama Treks is located at 640 Padgett Mill Rd, Cosby, TN 37722.
If you’re ready for the perfect outdoor adventure in the Smokies, you can learn more about Smoky Mountain Llama Treks, and buy tickets, on their website.
Have you ever tried hiking with a llama in the Smoky Mountains? Let us know in the comments below.