Picnic Areas

Metcalf Bottoms

Tucked in the mountains under a canopy of cool shade, this picnic pavilion creates a peaceful and secluded environment for visitors, offering the best of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Natural Features:
World-renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian culture, Great Smoky Mountains is America’s most visited national park. Whether blanketed in bright wildflowers in the spring or vivid colors in the fall, the scenery at Metcalf Bottoms never disappoints.
At 1,700 feet, Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Pavilion provides a moderate climate, characterized by mild winters and hot, humid summers.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park preserves a rich cultural history of Southern Appalachia. From the prehistoric Paleo Indians to the early European settlements in the 1800s, the park strives to protect its historic structures, landscapes and artifacts that tell the stories of the people who once called these mountains home.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a hiker’s paradise, offering over 800 miles of maintained trails ranging from short, leg-stretchers to strenuous treks, with a number of those trails easily accessible from the picnic area. But hiking is not the only reason for visiting the Smokies: Fishing, picnicking, wildlife viewing and auto touring are also popular activities.

Visitors can enjoy high-quality backcountry fishing in the cool waters of the countless streams and rivers that snake through the mountains, with trout available in abundance.

Wildlife viewing is a popular pastime, and with around 1,500 bears living in the park, it’s not uncommon for visitors to spot one. The park is a sanctuary for a magnificent array of animal and plant life, all of which is protected for future generations to enjoy.

The park also holds one of the best collections of log buildings in the eastern United States. Over 90 historic structures, including houses, barns, outbuildings, churches, schools and grist mills, have been preserved or rehabilitated in the park.

Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Pavilion can accommodate up to 70 guests and offers a covered eating area and multiple grills, making it an ideal location for a party or family get-together.

The pavilion may be reserved for a morning or evening block, so visitors who wish to use the area for a full day should reserve both time slots.

Nearby Attractions:
Gatlinburg, a one of the Smokies’ famous tourist towns, is located about 11 miles from the picnic area. Visitors tours, organized rafting trips, museums, restaurants, galleries, an aquarium, skiing and more, are all offered.
Activities and Amenities

Within Facility

· Accessible Flush Toilets
· Accessible Picnic Shelters
· Birding
· Drinking Water
· Fishing
· Grills
· Hiking
· Parking Area
· Wildlife Viewing

Less Than 1 Mile from Facility:

· Historic Sites
· River Access
· Trails

Know Before You Go

· Bear Habitat!!
All food and items used to store or prepare food, including coolers, MUST be stored in the trunk or cab of your vehicles at all times when not in use.
Dispose of garbage promptly in bear-proof dumpsters.
This rule is strictly enforced!

· Potable water is available at restrooms but not at the pavilion.
· Alcohol is allowed at designated picnic areas.
· There are BBQ grills for charcoal fires. Wood fires are not allowed.
· Decorations are allowed, provided they do not damage the structure (i.e. no staples) and are cleaned up on departure. Directional signs leading to the site are prohibited.
· Commercial activity (i.e. sales) is prohibited. Use of the pavilion for weddings and wedding receptions requires a Special Use Permit. Call 865-436-1261 for permit information.
· Keep your confirmation notice with you in the event of a conflict with a non-reservation party.
· A Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license is required to fish in the park. Special regulations apply in the park.
· Pets are permitted but cannot be left unattended. All pets must be kept on a leash at all times. Pets are not allowed on trails.
· For additional park information call 865-436-1200 or visit www.nps.gov/grsm

Contact Information:
Mailing Address:
Mailing address is 107 Park Headquarters Road
Information: (865) 436-1261


Most of the picnic areas around the Great Smoky Mountain National Park are not handicap accessible. They are standard picnic tables, which are fine for the everyday user, but for someone who is differently abled, a standard picnic table can be very difficult. Most of the picnic areas are also located down small dirt or gravel paths. These hard to maneuver trails make getting to the picnic areas difficult as well. There is one place where this is not the case. On the peaceful side of the Smokies, in Townsend, there are several handicap-accessible picnic areas.


Overlooking the Little River in Townsend, these handicapped picnic areas are off the beaten path but well worth finding if you have someone in your group that requires a little assistance to enjoy the family picnic. If you are coming to Townsend from Wears Valley, you will take a right when you get to the junction of Wears Valley Road and Hwy 321. Watch for the signs for Tuckaleechee Caverns and, begin to look on the right-hand side of the road for the small blue signs showing where the handicapped accessible picnic areas are located.

The first thing you will notice is that the walk ways to the picnic tables are paved. The parking areas pull right up to the walk ways and it is very easy to get someone with a wheel chair out of the car and up to the picnic area. The curbs are ramped to allow someone in a wheelchair or someone on crutches and easy way to get up to the picnic area. There is no gravel and no dirt–pavement the whole way. The person in the wheelchair will not have to worry about accidentally flipping their transportation on the way to the picnic table.

The next thing that you will notice is that the picnic tables are built with a person in a wheelchair or mobility assistance device in mind. One side of the table is open with enough room for somebody in a wheelchair to roll up under one side of the picnic table. No longer does the person in the wheelchair have to feel left out because they cannot get up to the picnic table. No longer does the person with special needs have to worry about having their traveling companions help them into the picnic table. They can pull right up to it and enjoy the sunshine and the picnic without being inconvenienced.

These handicapped accessible picnic tables are right beside the water. If the kids want to go splash in the cool mountain water of the Little River it is right there. If someone wants to fish in one of the best brown trout fishing rivers in the area, it is right there. These picnic areas have all of the amenities of any of the other picnic areas in the park with one exception; they are designed with the handicapped individual in mind. This is yet another reason why Townsend is the peaceful side of the Smokies. Making sure that everyone in your party can enjoy the activities is always on the mind of the people on this side of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

The handicap-accessible picnic area in this article is located on Lamar Alexander Parkway about half a mile from Nawger Nob if you are headed toward Maryville, TN on the right hand side of the road.