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A Walk in the Woods

Anyone can walk you down a trail through the woods.

A Walk in the Woods’ Smoky Mountain Guides make us the best guide service in the region. Since 1998, we have had the top guides in the business. Having vast knowledge in “leave no trace”, botany, wildlife, geology, culture and history of the Smokies, our expert guides cannot be beat.

Our mission is to “raise environmental awareness through direct, fun, positive experiences with nature”. Consequently, we do our best to incorporate that mission into everything we do. Anyone can walk you down a trail through the woods.

A Walk in the Woods works to incorporate our mission into everything we do. Therefore, we do our best to use recycled and plant based goods, practice and teach leave no trace ethics, support local businesses and give back to our community. Additionally, we support a variety of environmental organizations and are committed to walking our talk.

Our guides are committed to being stewards of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For example, when they are not working, they are many times found hiking and exploring the Smokies on their days off, always learning from this incredible living classroom. Furthermore, as a Company, we strive to leave our Park and our environment better than how we found it. While with us on guided hike in the Smoky Mountains, you can rest assured that part of your proceeds go to support the following amazing organizations:​​

–Great Smoky Mountains National Park
–Discover Life in America
–Great Smoky Mountains Association
–National Parks Conservation Association
–Foothills Land Conservancy
–World Wildlife Fund
–Girl Scouts of America
–Sierra Club
–Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community
–Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts
–Gatlinburg Farmers Market–Appalachian Bear Rescue
A Walk In The Woods is a full range tour guide service geared to making your time in the Smokies the best part of your vacation. Emphasizing the teaching of natural history, A Walk In The Woods offers spectacular trips into the incredible biodiversity of the Smokies. Our expert Smoky Mountain guides will take you on a once in a lifetime tour. Furthermore, your experience may include incredible vistas, gentle cascades, waterfalls, majestic ancient forests, crystal clear mountain streams, old home sites, graveyards or hidden trails.

When it comes to the unique eco systems that are the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, no one knows more than our expert guides. As a result, since 1998 we have lead over 250,000 people, from all walks of life, on guided hikes, backpacking trips and driving tours.

Our award winning naturalist guides are top in this field and understand the amazing diversity of this Jewel of the Park system. In addition to learning about the medicinal and edible uses of wild plants and mushrooms, you’ll learn about wild animals and their habits, leave no trace ethics and local human history, including the Cherokee and early settlers. Similarly, through an overnight experience you will gain knowledge on backpacking skills, geology, primitive skills and outdoor survival. In short, you will learn from the best and are sure to come out with a deeper understanding of the most bio-diverse region in the Northern Hemisphere.

All of our services help make your trip to the Smokies rewarding and fun. We offer a large selection of Smoky Mountain tours. In addition to interpretive guided nature walks and guided hikes, we also offer guided backpacking trips, birding treks, hiker shuttle service in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Mount LeConte Adventures, Appalachian Trail support, camping and backpacking equipment rental, classes and seminars are also services we offer. Ultimately, our goal is to make the Great Smoky Mountains National Park come alive for you in a fun and eco-friendly manner.

A Walk in the Woods is locally owned and operated by the husband and wife team Erik and Vesna Plakanis.Between them, they have over 70 years experience in hiking the Appalachian Mountains, covering thousands of miles of trails.

Both have been full time trail guides in the Great Smoky Mountains since 1998. Therefore, they are experts in leave no trace, medicinal and edible uses of plants, animal tracking, wilderness survival and primitive arts.

Additionally, Erik and Vesna are accomplished storytellers, specializing in Cherokee legends and Settler tall tales. Similarly, they love teaching classes on wild edibles, fungi and primitive skills. They are also certified by the Humane Society in non-Lethal Bear Aversion techniques. Techniques taught by the famed Bear Whisperer, Steven Searle.

In 2012, Erik was given the coveted REI Top Guide Award! Erik was proud to take part in a winning lawsuit in 2009 that forced the TVA to clean up their power plants. This forced TVA to take 16 of the worst ones off line.  As a result, the win measurably improved air quality in and around the Smokies from 2010 on. On a side note, Erik, a confirmed descendent of Daniel Boone, is a real fun guy and loves his mushroom puns!

Vesna testified in Washington D.C. in 2016, in front of the EPA, to ensure we would all continue to enjoy the cleanest air quality.  Again, in 2017, she and several local stakeholders met with members of the Corker and Alexander Senate staffers. This time, to encourage the administration to further the progress that had been made on clean air in the region. Meanwhile, in 2017, she was named as one of the Top 9 “Bad Ass Babes!”. Vesna is currently a proud Executive Board Member of Discover Life in America.
Erik and Vesna continue to be involved in organizations that help keep the Southern Appalachians pollution free. In their spare time, they enjoy hiking and backpacking all of the trails in the Smokies. Likewise, they are working through the all of the U.S. National Parks. They enjoy spending time with their daughter and relaxing with their canine friends on their 90 acre eco camp.
They have been featured in many publications. These include Outside and Backpacker Magazine, National Geographic, USA Today, Washington Post, Shape, Women’s Health, Southern Living and many others.  They have appeared on the Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, NBC Nightly News and PBS.
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