Name: Cades Cove Picnic Area
Picnic Sites: 81
Pavilion: None
Hours: Closes at 8:00 PM from April 30 – August 31, 2022, and at sunset all other days.
Dates Open: Year Round

Cades Cove is the number one destination inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The beautiful valley is popular for its hiking trails, serene pastures, wildflowers, black bears, whitetail deer, waterfalls, rivers, and historic buildings.

Visitors to Cades Cove could spend weeks exploring, but most people only have a day or two. If Cades Cove is just one stop on your Smoky Mountain vacation, we suggest packing a picnic lunch and finding a spot to relax and eat between hikes.

RELATED: Brief History of Cades Cove

Directions to Cades Cove Picnic Area

From Townsend: Take Lamar Alexander Parkway to the “Y” intersection. Turn right and drive 7.4 miles toward Cades Cove on Laurel Creek Road. A large brown sign indicates where to turn into the Cades Cove Picnic Area.

Cades Cove Picnic Area Description

The Cades Cove Picnic Area is located near the Entrance/Exit to Cades Cove. The one-way paved loop road gives easy access to the picnic sites. Parking is along the road in the designated parking areas.

This popular picnic area provides 81 individual picnic sites with a table and grill. Cades Cove Picnic Area also has restrooms with flushable toilets and potable water.

Cades Cove Picnic Area sits between two creeks, Abrams Creek and Green Branch. The water is a nice touch and really makes picnicking in this area a lot of fun. Feel free to dip your toes in the water to cool off when the weather is hot and muggy.

Remember that all cooking must be inside the picnic area. Fires outside the picnic area are prohibited.

A nearby campground store sells hot dogs, ice cream, hamburgers, basic groceries, supplies, and park-approved firewood.

Pros and Cons


  • Fantastic location near Cades Cove
  • Potable water
  • Restrooms
  • 81 sites with grills and tables
  • Paved road with parking
  • Handicap accessible sites available
  • Nearby camp store with food, bike rentals, etc
  • Hiking trailhead located in the picnic area


  • Very crowded on most days
  • Hot and humid in summer due to low elevation

Nearby Points of Interest

The trailhead for Anthony Creek Trail is located at the far end of Cades Cove Picnic Area. Cades Cove Campground and Store are both within walking distance. Of course, Cades Cove Loop Road is the natural destination for most people visiting the park. For hiking we suggest checking out one of our 38 Popular Day Hikes.