Everyone likes a picnic and picnicking in Gatlinburg is a great family activity or perfect for you and a partner who want to go off alone and enjoy some quality time together. In Gatlinburg, there's no shortage of picnicking spots. It all depends what you're up for -- perhaps you'd like a quick and easy retreat just outside your cabin or chalet, facing the glory that is the Smokies in spring. Or you could get a bit more ambitious and try some of the breathtaking spots within Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The park is home to many beautiful and romantic spots, none better than some of the spectacular waterfalls and the trails leading up to them. Let's take a look at a few of these settings as potential picnicking spots:
Places to Picnic
Roaring Fork Nature Trail
This is a 5.5 mile loop that's popular in the park. The road offers top picnicking spots all along its length plus access to the old Ogle homestead and its historic buildings. Stop by a rushing stream or walk up to some of the log cabins or grist mills for an enjoyable visit before you settle down to eat your picnic lunch. Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers this page on Roaring Fork and provides directions: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/roaringfork.htm
The trailhead for Rainbow Falls is located in the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The trail leading up to Rainbow Falls rewards travelers with the sight of a magnificent cascading waterfall, 80' high. This hiking trail is considered moderately difficult. Hiking in with small children might be a little difficult as the trail rises up to 1500' and is over 5 miles, round trip. Wearing good hiking shoes will make the walk easier. Note that bikes and pets are not allowed on the trail to Rainbow Falls. Bring your camera along with your picnic basket as you'll want to photograph the sunbeam/mist rainbow effect these falls are known for!
Get more information and directions here: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/rainbow-falls-pyv.htm
This month is a great month to visit Grotto Falls and you'll likely get one of the best views of the falls all year, as the water levels will be higher due to spring runoff. You can access the trail in from the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. You’ll cross several small streams and walk uphill a good part of the way. This falls' distinctive feature is the ability to walk behind it. he The trail leading up to the falls is a lot of fun to walk in the spring as it takes you through old growth forests and you'll see a variety of spring wildflowers on the way. Be careful of slippery rocks in the falls vicinity.
Kids and families find the hike to Grotto Falls to be pretty easy so it is quite popular. Watch for the muddy parts of the trail this time of year. It's a good idea to wear hiking boots or old hiking shoes just in case you do encounter mud or slimy areas. Parking is usually not too difficult before you start up the trail if you get started earlier in the day.
Some Tasty Treats to Bring With You
So we've identified some fun places to go on a picnic, now all we need are some pointers on great local food to bring along. You can start at The Village Shops and look for some cheese and tangy mustard to go with it. There's a famous donut store in The Village too, and some of their donuts might be just the thing to round out your picnic basket.
For a change of pace you could visit a few of the specialty food stores on Parkway in Gatlinburg and get someone of a kind dips and sandwich spreads. The variety is astounding in some of these stores and you'll find unusual and exciting flavors to try like roasted pineapple habanero dip with cream cheese, or amazing blueberry preserves. Also on Parkway, there are stores that sell awesome buffalo and beef jerky. Make your picnic a big success with some of Gatlinburg's famous local take-out pizza, another specialty of several of the restaurants on Parkway. Some restaurants offer special carry-out deals that feed 4 or 8, with pizza, salad, garlic bread, even plates and silverware!
We hope you enjoy your Gatlinburg picnic. Remember if you go into the woods please clean up afterward to keep things safe for animals and clean for others who will come along later. Happy picnicking!