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   Picnicing in the Smokies
 
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Any place in the Smokies is good for picnicing. Just find a good spot by a stream or in a secluded area or where there is a great view and toss a blanket on the ground. Below is a list of the best picnic areas that are developed and maintained by the park service. All of the picnic areas except Chimneys and Cades Cove have pavilions. The pavilions at Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Metcalf Bottoms, and Twin Creeks can be reserved for groups. For reservations, call calling 1-800-365-2267 or visit the reservation web site.

  Name Description
Big Creek Located by the Big Creek Campground, the Big Creek picnic area is nice out-of-the way picnic area that is usually not crowded. The picnic area is near a mountain stream and near the trailheads for the Big Creek trail and the Baxter Creek trail.
Chimney Tops One of the best places for rock hopping in the Smokies, also one of the most popular, so it can be very crowded at peak times. The trailhead for the Chimney tops trail is a short drive on up Newfound Gap road.
Cades Cove Cades Cove is one of the most visited areas in the park. It has a large diversity of plants an animals and is one of the best places in the park to see deer. Several hiking trails and horseback riding trails are located in Cades Cove as well as an 11 mile loop road accessible to bikes and motor vehicles.
Collins Creek The Collins Creek picnic area is located on Newfound Gap road on the North Carolina side. It offers a nice picnic area near a creek. While there are no hiking trails starting at the picnic area, there are several trails within a few miles.
Cosby The Cosby picnic area is a nice out-of-the way spot which is usually not very crowded. Located near Toms creek, there are several hiking trails in the area.
Deep Creek The Deep Creek area has a picnic area, a campground, and a ranger station. It is a short hike to Indian Creek Falls.
Greenbrier Creek Greenbrier is a wonderful creekside picnic area that is usually much less crowded than the very popular cades cove or chimney tops picnic areas. Several good hiking trails start just beyond the picnic area down a gravel road.
Heintooga Located near the Balsam Mountain Area, The Heintooga picnic area boasts a great mountain lookout area. Several hiking trails are located in the area.
Look Rock Located on the Foothills Parkway, the drive to Look Rock is beautiful. The picnic area is usually not very crowded and there is plenty of parking available. The campground has 92 campsites. The short hike to the observation tower offers spectacular 360 degree views of the mountains. This is one of the few picnic areas in the park that is not located by a creek.
Metcalf Bottoms The easy Metcalf Bottoms/Little Brier hiking trails begins at the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area.
Twin Creeks The pavillion at Twin Creeks is the largest in the park making this a great spot for large groups.

The surrounding areas of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Cherokee, Townsend, Bryson City, and Maggie Valley provide lodging, including hotels, cabins, and chalets. They also provide dining, shopping, shows, and the arts and crafts community.

Recommended Reading

Trails Illustrated Map is an excellent map of the Smokies, showing roads, hiking trails, camping areas, picnic areas, ranger stations, and more. It is waterproof and tearproof, so it is very durable to take with you camping or hiking, even if it rains.
Wildflowers of the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains A beautiful wildflower guide with many full page full color pictures. The pictures and informative descriptions help you identify wildflowers in the Smokies and surrounding areas.
Great Smoky Mountains: A Vistor's Companion describes and illustrates in full color dozens of plant and animal species in the Smokies, including a wide variety of birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, mammals, and plants. It also explores the park's geology, climate, and history.


Great Smoky Mountains: Natural Wonder, National Park is an extraordinary photographic collection that combines grand mountaintop landscapes and intimate details of flora and fauna. It combines essays with 150 photographs exploring the mountains and forest and the animals that inhabit it.