The Smoky Mountain National Park is a must-visit destination and exploring its numerous picnic areas is just one of the many things to do in the Gatlinburg area. Enjoy a picnic with your family and friends among old-growth forests, gurgling mountain streams, and wildflowers. Be sure to guard your treats from wildlife, and remember don’t feed the bears! Here are some of the best picnic areas near the Gatlinburg area.
1. Greenbrier Picnic Area (open year-round)
This picnic area is a springtime gem with a plethora of wildflowers 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, like these hiking trail mix recipes.
To access the Greenbrier Picnic Area: Take US-321 six miles east of Gatlinburg and turn right into the Greenbriar Park entrance.
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.
3. 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 bears, groundhogs, 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 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
4. Cosby Picnic Area (open April 1st-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”.
5. Chimneys Picnic Area (open May 1st-August 31st)
This picnic area is not only breathtakingly beautiful, but it also has the perfect setting for a romantic picnic while staying in your Gatlinburg couples cabin. 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 or go fly fishing at the Little Pigeon River. 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 Newfound Gap Road 6.7 miles from Sugarlands Visitor Center until you reach the parking lot at the Chimney Tops trailhead.
Pack your picnic basket and head out for a day of adventure to one of these picnic areas. To make the most of your trip, why not book a cabin rental in Gatlinburg so you can easily whip up some picnic recipes? Or, if you prefer, you can also try some of the many delicious restaurants in Gatlinburg for a quick and convenient meal to take on your picnic.
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