Best Gatlinburg Picnic Areas and Recipes

The Smoky Mountain National Park is full of marvelous picnic sites. Enjoy a picnic with your family and friends among old growth forests, gurgling mountains streams, and wildflowers. Be sure to guard your treats from wildlife, and remember donΓÇÖt feed the bears!

Here are some of the best picnic areas near the Gatlinburg area and some easy picnic recipes you can whip up in your Elk Spring Resort Gatlinburg Rental Cabin to pack in your basket.

Greenbriar Picnic Area (open year round)

This picnic area is a springtime gem with a plethora of wild flowers blooming in March and April. Enjoy springtime blooms and watch fly fisherman cast in the famous trout fishing stream as you snack on your favorite picnic foods.

To access this picnic area take US-321 six miles east of Gatlinburg and turn right into the Greenbriar Park entrance.

Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area (open year round)

This picturesque picnic spot is a perfect place to kick back, swim, play horse shoes, and enjoy a fine picnic. A popular swimming and tubing area, you can enjoy a pre-picnic dip in the river.

To access Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area turn at Sugarlands Visitor Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and follow Little River Rd until you see the turn off for the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area.

Cades Cove Picnic Area (open year round)

An open valley that dips between the majestic Smoky Mountains, Cades Cove is one of the most popular places to visit and picnic in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is one of the best places to view wildlife such as white-tailed deer, black bear, ground hogs, coyotes, skunks and more.

The picnic area here provides grills and tables, and a beautiful mountain stream winds right through the picnic area.

After relishing your delicious picnic hop in the car and follow the 11-mile one way loop that circles the Cades Cove.

From Gatlinburg: Take 441 toward the National Park and Turn at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. From here you will take Little River Road to Laurel Creek Rd which runs straight into Cades Cove

Cosby Picnic Area (open April 1st through October 31st)

A little off the beaten path, this picnic area is hardly ever full and is a favorite among locals. This picnic area also has beautiful wildflower and wildlife viewing. It’s also an excellent place to take a short hike after you empty your picnic basket.

Sutton Ridge Views is an excellent 1.4 mile hike that leaves right from the picnic area. This hike offers spectacular views.

From Gatlinburg, take U.S. Highway 321 for 19 miles to Cosby. Turn right on to Highway 32 and go 1.5 miles to a road on the right marked “Cosby Campground”.

Chimneys Picnic Area (open May 1st-through August 31st)

This picnic area is resplendent with wild flowers and rhododendron. It is also located just beneath the famous Chimney Tops Rock natural structure.

If you are feeling extra adventurous after your picnic you can hike the arduous Chimney Tops Trail which is rated strenuous and must be done with extreme caution due to slick rocks at the top. Though not an easy hike, many deem it worth the effort as it crosses mountain streams, winds past old hemlocks, and offers spectacular views from the top.

To Access Chimneys Picnic Area follow New Found Gap Road 6.7 miles from Sugarlands Visitor Center until you reach the parking lot at the Chimney Tops trailhead.

Easy Picnic Recipes for your Perfect Gatlinburg Picnic:

Homemade Lemonade

3 large lemons
1 pint water
1 cup granulated sugar or 1 cup Splenda
2 pints water


1) Place well washed lemons in a glass bowl with 1 pint of water.
2) Microwave on high for 3 minutes.
3) Remove water and cool slightly.
4) Juice lemons and remove seeds.
5) Dissolve sugar or Splenda in the warm water used for lemons.
6) Mix juice and sweetened water until well blended.
7) Add additional 2 pints of water ot make a half-gallon lemonade.

Homemade Pimento Cheese

1 lb shredded cheddar cheese
12 oz. jar of pimentos (untrained)
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon of sugar


1) Mix until creamy.
2) Chill and then put in a cooler for your picnic.
3) Serve with crackers or on sandwich bread.

Hello Dollies

1 cup melted margarine
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1  6 oz. package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1  6 oz. package of butterscotch chips
3 oz of flaked coconut
1 cup of chopped pecans
1  14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1) Melt margarine or butter in a 13X 9 inch baking pan in oven.
2) Sprinkle crumbs over margarine evenly. Top with remaining ingredients except for milk.
3) Pour condensed milk over everything evenly.
4) Bake at 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
5) Cool, chill, cut into bars to take on your picnic!