A call to the Smoky Mountains is a call to fresh air, peaceful streams, lush forestry, and some of the best picnic spots you can find this side of the Mississippi! With summer waning and the warm sunlight balanced by the early crisp breezes of fall moving through the air, the Smoky Mountains are your dream picnicking setting. You can picnic on the deck of your Pigeon Forge TN Cabin while sipping on cold local beers and flipping burgers on the cabin’s grill or you can get out and experience these amazing picnic spots. We have also included some of our picnicking tips to help you have the best day ever in the Smokies with friends and family.
Chimneys Picnic Area
Open until November 27 each year, Chimneys is a picturesque stop along Newfound Gap Road. Take a break from your scenic drive and use one of Chimney’s 65 picnicking spots with charcoal grills and picnic tables set among the dense forestry. Nearby, the kids can play in the shallow stream with relaxing rocks and waterfalls before sitting down to your picnic lunch.
Tip: While wildlife tends to prefer avoiding areas where people consistently populate, it’s good to go ahead and take the proper precautions by bringing some bear spray.
Collins Creek Picnic Area
Collins Creek, much like Chimneys, has a rocky stream and lush forestry for a picturesque day along Newfound Gap Road. This picnic area is closer to the North Carolina entrance of the park and boasts some stunning mountain views through the trees. Just like Chimney, you can count on clean public restrooms and ample parking. However, these sites are popular, so you will want to plan your day ahead of time.
Tip: Bring your favorite outdoor games like cornhole, pickleball, ladders, or a football to toss around in some of the grassy areas in Collins Creek!
This gorgeous public park is located just outside of Gatlinburg but before you enter The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Because it is not within park boundaries, the pups can join the day of picnicking; just be sure to bring your leash! This park is large with tennis courts, basketball hoops, clean restrooms, grassy fields, and shaded picnic areas with charcoal grills. Let the kids play in the babbling stream with the dogs while you roast some hot dogs and enjoy the dreamy scenery.
Tip: Pack out what you bring in to keep these parks beautiful and safe by not attracting animals. Many of these picnicking areas have bear-proof dumpsters, but it’s easy to simply bring your own trash bags and drop them off at the local dump.
This picnicking spot is much more remote and does not include tables and grills, but the 360-degree mountain views make it magical. The short hike is under 2 miles from the Clingmans Dome parking lot and leads to the highest grassy bald in The Great Smoky Mountains. Don’t be intimidated by its elevation (5,920’ above sea level) because this trail was recently rejuvenated by local conservationists and gains under 800’ feet along your trek from the parking lot, making it a very gradual climb.
Lay out your blanket where a historic cabin once rested enjoy some finger foods while gazing across fields of wildflowers and miles of mountains underneath blue skies. Andrews Bald is a better choice if you are looking for a romantic picnic spot with fewer people and dreamy mountain backdrops.
Tip: Pack one backpack with the snacks and water and another backpack for a thicker blanket so you are more comfortable sitting on the ground!
Cades Cove Picnic Pavilion
As one of the most majestic and beautiful areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you really don’t want to miss an opportunity to picnic in Cades Cove. Multiple streams flow through the 81 shaded picnic sites, some even deep enough for kids to wade in certain areas. There is also a short natural trail the family can hike that follows along a picturesque rocky stream with hundreds of little waterfalls cascading.
Get to this area earlier in the day because it is very popular among visitors. Bring your bikes or hit up the Cades Cove General Store to rent your ride and enjoy a day of exploring the 11-mile Loop Road. From grazing wildlife to historical preserved cabins, there is so much to do to make for an entire day out of your picnic in Cades Cove!
Picnicking in Fall
Summer may boast sunny cookouts and pool days, but when it comes to picnicking in the Smoky Mountains, fall is our favorite time of year with the perfect weather, the turning leaves, and teeming wildlife preparing for winter. Peruse cabins with mountain views, peaceful streams, or valley vistas to escape for a weekend or extended getaway this autumn and plan your dream picnic day in the mountains.