Name: Heintooga Picnic Area at Balsam Mountain
Picnic Sites: 41
Hours: Closes at 8:00 PM from May 1 – August 31 and at sunset all other days.
Dates Open: May 15 to October 4, 2020
Directions to Heintooga Picnic Area
From Maggie Valley: Take Soco Road (US 19) toward Cherokee. Turn onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, drive 2.6 miles to Heintooga Ridge Road, and then turn right. Drive an additional 8.9 miles on Heintooga Ridge Road. You will arrive at a loop and the picnic area is on the left (or the right if you have made the loop).
NOTE: Heintooga Ridge Road is a paved surface following the ridge of Balsam Mountain. When you reach the end of the paved road (where the picnic area is located), Balsam Mountain Road begins. Balsam Mountain Road is a long, one-way, unpaved, mountain road leading over the mountain to Cherokee.
Heintooga Picnic Area Description
Some claim that Heintooga is the best-developed picnic site in the park. The views are spectacular at Mile High Overlook, the sunsets are breathtaking, and the forest setting cannot be beat.
Heintooga Picnic Area on Balsam Mountain is the highest elevation picnic area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at about 5,200 feet. Due to the high elevation, this picnic area is open only in warm months. Snow and ice make navigating the roads nearly impossible in the winter.
Heintooga Mountain View | Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Heintooga Picnic Area has 41 picnic sites, each with a table and charcoal grill. Magnificent trees surround the picnic area and the higher elevation provides opportunities to see birds that live high up in the mountains.
About half of the picnic tables were handmade of stone by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930’s. They made the seats from split logs. More than 80 years later, these tables still provide a nice place to picnic.
Heintooga Picnic Area does have restrooms and running water, but it does not have electricity or a pavilion.
However, if you drive back down the mountain a short distance, a dish washing station at Balsam Mountain Campground is available. The campground comfort station (restrooms with potable water) is just a little further down Balsam Mountain Campground Road.
You may use Heintooga Picnic Area without a reservation and without charge. Use is based on a first come first served basis.
Nearby Points of Interest
Flat Creek Trail begins at the Heintooga Picnic Area. A short distance down the road, Balsam Mountain Nature Trail is a short trail leading to Balsam Mountain Campground. The Balsam Mountain Ranger Station is located at the entrance to Balsam Mountain Campground Road. Maggie Valley and Cherokee, NC are both wonderful places to visit on this side of the mountain.