May 31, 2023

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to nearly a dozen picnic areas, so you might be wondering which one is the best for a meal in the great outdoors! While there is no wrong answer, the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area offers just about everything that you would want for a delicious lunch in the Smokies! You’ll not only find multiple tables and charcoal grills, but a beautiful environment to create the ultimate picnic experience! Here are the top 4 reasons why you’ll love visiting the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area:

1. Excellent Picnic Facilities

The Metcalf Bottom Picnic Area offers excellent facilities for your picnic lunch, including plenty of picnic tables and grills that are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. There are actually two picnic areas here, one on each side of Wear Cove Gap Road. Both of the picnic areas are situated next to the Little River, creating a wonderful atmosphere that is hard to beat! There is a pavilion available too, which must be reserved in advance from early April to late October. You’ll also find accessible restrooms with flush toilets, as well as drinking water via drinking fountains.

2. Easy Access to the Creek of the Little River

fly fishing smoky mountains

Another one of the top reasons why you’ll love visiting the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area is because of the easy access to the creek of the Little River! If you want to cool off during the summer months, just head down to the river, and you’ll find several shallow places to swim! The Little River is also a popular place for fishing in the park, so bring your gear along to spend a few hours along the riverbank. Just remember that you’ll need a valid license for fishing in the Smoky Mountains!

3. Departure Point for the Metcalf Bottoms Hiking Trail

The Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area is situated right at the trailhead for the Metcalf Bottoms Hiking Trail, one of the most popular trails in the National Park! The trailhead is on Wear Cove Gap Road right over the bridge, and a short hike leads to the historic Little Greenbrier School. If you walk just a bit further, you’ll discover the Walker Sisters Cabin along Metcalf Bottoms Trail. For those who are craving a longer and more strenuous hike, walk just 5 minutes from the picnic area to the trailhead for the 6.4-mile round-trip Curry Mountain Trail!

4. Convenient Central Location Between Gatlinburg and Townsend

road through the mountains

One of the many things that makes the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area so appealing is that it is conveniently located between Gatlinburg and Townsend! If you’re heading from the Sugarlands Visitor Center in Gatlinburg, turn onto Fighting Creek Gap Road and drive 9.5 miles toward Elkmont. Turn right onto Wear Cove Gap Road and follow to Metcalf Bottoms. From Townsend, drive on Wears Valley Road for 5.8 miles and then turn right onto Line Spring Road. Continue on Wear Cove Gap Road and cross over the Metcalf Bottoms Bridge to find the picnic areas.

Now that you know why you’ll love visiting the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area, learn about the other Smoky Mountains picnic areas and discover some tips for a successful picnic!