May 12, 2020
Picnicking is a popular activity during the spring, summer, and fall in the Smokies. There are several picnic areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and we want to share some of the best ones with you so you know where to go when you want to enjoy a meal out in nature! Check out these top 7 picnic areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
A great place for the whole family to enjoy a picnic is at the Chimney Tops picnic area. There are 68 picnic spots, as well as a short 0.8 hike that’s perfect for the whole family to enjoy! The West Prong of the Little Pigeon River runs next to the picnic area, and the kids will love splashing in the water and exploring.
A really popular picnic area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Metcalf Bottoms. This area is the second largest picnic area in the entire park with 122 picnic sites. Most of the sites are right next to the river so you can get in on a hot summer day. There are also restrooms in this area, as well as several hiking trails around the area with historic buildings.
The Cades Cove picnic area is one of the only areas that is open all year round. It has 81 picnic sites along a paved loop. You can choose to be on the side with the creek or the side in the woods. There are restrooms in the middle of the loop. This picnic area is right next to the Cades Cove campsite and drivable loop. It is extremely popular because of its proximity to these areas, but it’s a beautiful area to explore!
The Greenbrier picnic area is also open year round. It has 12 picnic sites. If you want to feel immersed in the Smokies, this is the picnic area for you! It’s in the middle of the woods and just a few miles outside of Gatlinburg. Porters Creek Trail is a fairly easy hiking trail that’s right next to the picnic area, and this is a great trail to go on if you want to see incredible wildflowers.
The Cosby picnic area is fairly secluded, making it a great option if you want to avoid crowds. This picnic area is right next to the Cosby Campground. There are 35 picnic sites, and some of them are fairly close to Cosby Creek. Gabes Mountain Trail is right across from the picnic area, which will lead you to Hen Wallows Falls, a beautiful waterfall.
If you love scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains, you should have a picnic at the Look Rock picnic area. Look Rock is off of Foothills Parkway along the Chilhowee-Walland section. On your way to and from Look Rock, you can enjoy beautiful mountain views. There’s even a short 0.5 trail that will lead you to an incredible view of the Smokies.
Did you know you don’t have to stay in picnic areas to have a picnic? Many people enjoy hiking along the trails and bringing a picnic with them when they get to their destination! Pack a sack lunch and take it to Grotto Falls or Rainbow Falls. Andrews Bald is a moderate hike where there’s a grassy bald at the top where you can spread out a picnic blanket. Gregory Trail is another trail with a bald at the top where you can have a picnic. Even along the rivers, you can bring a blanket to spread out along the bank and enjoy a picnic!
Since we have told you about the top picnic areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we want to provide a little more information about them. The designated picnic areas have tables with bench seating and charcoal grills. You can bring your own charcoal to cook if you want, but just be sure to clean up after you are finished so wildlife stays safe and the Smokies stay clean. Not every picnic area is open year round. Cades Cove, Metcalf Bottoms, and Greenbrier are all open year round, while the rest of the picnic areas are only open a certain part of the year.
Now you know about the top picnic areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Having a picnic isn’t the only fun thing you can do in the area when you stay in one of our cabins! Look through our Freedom Fun Pass to see what kind of deals you’ll have access to when you book one of our Smoky Mountain cabins!