Who Done It?

Indian Heaven

I encountered these tracks in the dust on a trail into the Indian Heaven wilderness area. I was approaching the Pacific Crest Trail where it crosses the Gifford Pinchot forest of southern Washington. The elevation here is about 5,000 feet. The track is about 3.5" long.

Photo by Dennis Deck

Who made this track? (Don't be too hasty with your answer.) [ View Answer ]


If you guessed deer or elk you were luke warm. Look again at the shape of the clods -- not a good match to either deer or elk. None of the other native ungulates match either (based on range or clod shape).

If you are thinking about something exotic, particularly something unusual that you might be likely to find on trails into wilderness areas, you are on the right track. Llamas are being used increasingly as pack animals in the Northwest but this was the first time I actually encountered them on the trail.

The size of the track overlaps with both deer and elk. Note, however, that the shape of the clod is unlike any native ungulate and gives the track a splayed appearance even though this was firm, level ground where ungulate tracks would not be splayed.

[ View Question ] - [ Return to Menu ]