Top 6 Picnic Spots in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

June 12, 2023

Planning to spend a day soaking up nature by hiking and exploring? Then you have to bring a picnic along to stay fueled and enjoy a nice break from all of the activity. No matter which area of the park you’re exploring, a picnic area won’t be too far away. Check out these top 6 picnic spots in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for your next trip:

1. Greenbrier

picnic table in the national parkOpen Year Round

Covered Pavilion & Restrooms Available

Greenbrier is another out-of-the-way place that’s usually less crowded! This area is especially known for its array of wildflowers and is also a great fishing spot! A popular hike is the Porters Creek Trail, where you’ll discover gorgeous wildflowers and several historic farm sites and homesteads. The trailhead to the tallest waterfall in the Smokies, Ramsey Cascades, is also nearby. It’s a 4-mile hike to the falls and is considered to be pretty strenuous.

2. Cosby 

Open from April to October

Covered Pavilion Available

This area of the national park is an off-the-beaten-path spot you definitely should visit! It’s usually not very crowded and also has camping facilities and easy access to several hiking trails. We recommend the hike to the stunning Hen Wallow Falls and the 1.4-mile hike to Sutton Ridge Overlook that starts from the Cosby picnic area. Experienced hikers can also access the Mt. Cammerer Fire Tower, over 10 miles of hiking, but well worth the time and effort to see some amazing Smoky Mountain views.

3. Cades Cove

picnic area at cades coveOpen Year Round

Cades Cove attracts the most visitors to the national park due to the driving loop road, many hiking trails, historic sites, and opportunities to see wildlife. It also has a convenient picnic area with plenty of picnic tables and charcoal grills for a quick and peaceful lunch.

4. Metcalf Bottoms

Open Year Round

Covered Pavilion Available

Metcalf Bottoms is one of the most popular picnic spots in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a reason! Situated right along the rushing creek, it’s the ideal place to relax before or after walking the Metcalf Bottoms Trail. You can even cool off in the creek or simply enjoy looking for wildlife during your time in the area.

5. Collins Creek

Open April to October (closes at 8 PM from late April to early September, sunset on other dates.)

Covered Pavilion & Restrooms Available

A beautiful picnic spot on the North Carolina side of the park is Collins Creek. It’s also close to popular area attractions, including the Mingus Mill and The Oconaluftee Mountain Farm Museum. Shaded and spacious, your family will love this area for a quiet break surrounded by the peacefulness of nature.

6. Deep Creek

indian creek fallsOpen Year Round

Covered Pavilion Available

Restrooms Open from April to October

On the North Carolina side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Deep Creek picnic area is a large space perfect for families who are exploring the waterfalls nearby or biking the Deep Creek and Indian Creek Trails. It’s also a popular destination for fishing and camping! There are even a few backcountry camping sites along the Deep Creek Trail. 

Now that you know some of the best picnic spots in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, brush up on important bear safety tips before heading to the park for a day of fun and adventure!