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3 Great Spots for a Picnic Lunch in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

great smoky mountains national park sign

If you have planned a day of hiking at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, bring along a picnic to break up your afternoon! There are several convenient picnic areas within the park where you can enjoy your lunch in the shade and among the pleasant sounds of nature! Here are 3 great spots for a picnic lunch in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

1. Chimney Picnic Area

picnic basket sitting on a table in parkOne of the best spots for a picnic lunch in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the Chimney Picnic Area, which is just a 15 minute drive from Sugarlands Visitor Center. We recommend starting your day at this excellent visitor center because you can pick up a park map and have a ranger help you identify the location of our recommended picnic areas. Just remember to pack your picnic before you arrive because there are limited food services in the park! Once you find the Chimney Picnic Area just off of Newfound Gap Road, you can enjoy your lunch in a beautiful cove hardwood forest. Since this forest has the most diversity of trees in the park, don’t miss the 3/4 mile self-guided Cove Hardwood Nature Trail!

2. Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area

If you prefer to have your picnic along the Little River, stop at the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic area. This lovely area is situated about halfway between Sugarlands Visitor Center and Cades Cove, making it the perfect stopping point for those folks heading to the cove! Be sure to hike the 1.2 mile trail to the Little Greenbrier School and Walker Sisters cabin, which provides a better understanding of what life was like for the people who lived in these mountains. You can spend some additional time in this area visiting the Laurel Falls Trail, which is not far up the road toward Gatlinburg.

3. Cosby Picnic Area

hen wallow falls in the smoky mountainsAnother great spot for a picnic lunch in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the Cosby Picnic Area. While this is considered a remote section of the park, there are plenty of activities that you can enjoy after lunch to burn off the calories! As another bonus, this picnic area is rarely full so you should never have a problem finding a table. At the top of the picnic area across from the campground ranger station, you will find a trail that leads to the Cosby Nature Trail. This trail offers a nice stroll through a gentle forest while looping around Cosby Creek. The Cosby Picnic Area is also the designated hiker parking area for the Gabes Mountain Trail, which leads to the impressive Hen Wallow Falls.

Where to Stay

Stay just minutes away from the national park with a vacation at our Smoky Mountain cabin rentals! After a day of hiking in the park, you can look forward to returning to our cabins for a refreshing soak in the hot tub and a comfortable night of rest! We have cabins of all sizes to meet your needs so we can easily accommodate couples, families and groups! While staying with us, you will love the beautiful cabin ambiance, scenic mountain views, fully equipped kitchen, fireplace and all of the other fantastic amenities!

Now that you know where to find all the best picnic spots in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you are all ready for your Smoky Mountain vacation! Check out all of our cabins in Gatlinburg TN today to plan your trip to the Smokies!