Although dogs are not allowed on most park hiking trails, there are still plenty of places your dog pack up your picnic basketcan visit at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

 One of our favorite things to do with our dogs is have a picnic!  Two years ago we began a tradition by taking Wesley, our 4 year-old Aussie to the Park on his birthday to cook hamburgers!  We all had such a good time, that now we go all the time!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has several picnic areas to choose from.  Here are some that are closest to Gatlinburg.

Chimney Tops

About 15-20 minutes from Gatlinburg, off Newfound Gap Rd, Chimney Tops Picnic Area has 89 picnic sites.  This is a popular spot and can be very crowded – something to keep in mind if you are seeking solitude.  One of the nice things about this picnic area is that it sits right on the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River and is a great place to rock-hop and explore!  In the summer, it is open until 8 pm.  During the rest of the year, the gates close at sunset.

Metcalf Bottoms

This picnic area is about 20 minutes from Gatlinburg off Little River Road on the way to Cade’s Cove.  This is another popular picnicking destination, but with 165 picnic sites, it may be easier to find a table.  Most of the picnic sites are close to the Little River, which is very refreshing in the summer!  There is also a Pavillion here that can be reserved in advance for $20 from March 11 through October 31st. 

Picnicking in the National ParkGreenbrier

Drive out toward Cosby on Rt. 321 for 10-15 minutes and you will come to the Greenbrier section of the Park.  The Greenbrier Picnic Area only has 12 sites, but they are rarely all taken!  Greenbrier is a great part of the Park because not everybody comes out here, so it is usually more peaceful.   The picnic area is close to the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River but, you have to walk through the woods to get to it.  There is a pavilion a little farther down the road past the picnic area.  It can be reserved in advance year-round for $10.


It will take you 30-40 minutes to drive the 20 miles out Rt. 321 (past Greenbrier) to the Cosby section of the Park, but it is worth it!  It may be a long haul from Gatlinburg, but there are considerably fewer vehicles headed in this direction (compared to Newfound Gap Rd. anyway) so it doesn’t take as long as you might think.  The Cosby section of the Park has had a lot of updates in 2010, so the facilities are great!  There is always space in the picnic area (95 sites) and campground, even in the peak of summer!  The picnic area is located near (but not on) Cosby Creek.  Cosby also has a pavilion that can be reserved in advance year-round for $20.

Other Picnic Areas (that aren’t so close)

  • Cades Cove – This popular spot is about an hour’s drive from Gatlinburg. 81 picnic sites
  • Big Creek – About an hour from Gatlinburg in the other direction (past Cosby). 10 picnic sites
  • Collins Creek – 40 minutes to an hour’s drive on the North Carolina side of Newfound Gap Road.  Open seasonally (March 11-October 31). 182 sites
  • Deep Creek – It will probably take at least one and a half hours to get over here, but it is pretty!  Make a day trip out of it! 58 picnic sites

Please be respect Park rules and show courtesy to other Park visitors by keeping your dog on a 6′ leash and picking up after your pet!

Don’t forget to Bring:

  • Charcoal and matches or lighterEveryone loves watermelon!
  • Water dish and water for your dog!
  • Paper towels, or wipes are even better!
  • Grilling utensils
  • Plastic tablecloth (not a necessity, but nice)
  • Plastic baggies to clean up after your furry friend
  • Snacks for everyone! (Did you know that dogs love watermelon?)

Hope you have a great time!  Send us pictures of your favorite memories with your dog in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and we may use them in our blog!

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