Blog for Zipline Attraction in the Smoky Mountains

Located in Pigeon Forge, TN and near Gatlinburg and Sevierville.


Life Is A Picnic – Part One

By Ross Bodhi Ogle
Posted on September 12, 2023

As we anticipate the arrival of fall and the cooler, more pleasant days it brings, this might be a good time to start planning an autumn picnic. As much as mankind has strived to shield and protect itself from the elements and create comfortable indoor living spaces, there's still something about enjoying a pleasant meal in the peace of nature that's universally appealing.

There are lots of ways to have a picnic, from the old-school approach of spreading a blanket out in a grassy meadow and enjoying the sights and smells at ground level to perhaps grilling out in a developed picnic area that has plenty of tables and even bathroom facilities nearby.

In either case, here are some of our recommendations from Smoky Mountain Ziplines for some of the best places to go for a picnic in the Great Smoky Mountains area. Most of them are within the national park, while others are a little closer to our Gatlinburg canopy tours. But any of them would be a good choice when it comes to indulging in the ultimate in al-fresco dining experiences.

Chimney Tops

This is our top pick for picnic grounds inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Chimney Tops happens to be a very popular hiking destination, with a summit that serves up some of the most remarkable views of the mountains to be had in this area. But back on terra firma, there's also a picnic area that offers nearly 70 individual picnic sites. Several of the tables overlook the nearby river. If you make a whole expedition out of it, you might take the hike on in the morning and then return to the picnic grounds for a relaxing creekside meal. This picnic area is open seasonally, from mid-March through late November.

Cades Cove

Cades Cove is one of the most popular stops in the national park for a whole host of reasons, and picnicking is one of them. Here, you have a couple of options. You can go to the official picnic area, which is open all year long and has 81 sites. Another possibility is to explore the entire 10-mile-long auto loop and look for a scenic place to get off the road (in a sanctioned parking are or pull-off, please) and spread out the ol' picnic blanket in a shady area or rolling meadow. The cove is notable for being surrounded by beautiful mountains and having lots of wide-open pastoral spaces. It's common to see deer grazing in the fields, depending on the season and time of day.

Metcalf Bottoms

This picnic area is located roughly halfway between Sugarlands Visitor Center and the Cades Cove loop. It's also accessible year-round and has a whopping 122 picnic sites to choose from, making it the second-largest in the national park. Many of the sites overlook or are very near the creek that runs through the site, which is devoted exclusively to picnicking. Each site comes with a grill and a picnic table, so it's conducive to cooking food at the location as opposed to simply packing a picnic basket. While you're there, there's a popular trail nearby in case you want to get a few steps in. It's an easy 1.2-mile trek that features everything from historic homes to foot bridges to an old schoolhouse that was used in the early 20th century to educate the children that lived in the area prior to the creation of the national park.


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