Name: Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area
Picnic Sites: 122
Pavilion: Yes – Seats 70 – To reserve see below
Hours: Closes at 8:00 PM from April 19 – October 27, 2022 and at sunset all other days.
Dates Open: Year Round (see below for exceptions)
Directions to Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area
From Sugarlands Visitor Center: Exit the Visitor Center onto Fighting Creek Gap Road and drive 9.5 miles toward Elkmont. Turn right onto Wear Cove Gap Road and the picnic areas are on either side of the road.
From Townsend: Drive on Lamar Alexander Parkway into the park. At the “Y” intersection, turn left onto Little River Gorge Road and drive 7.8 miles. Turn left onto Wear Cove Gap Road and the picnic areas are on either side of the road.
Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area Description
Metcalf Bottoms has two picnic areas, one on each side of Wear Cove Gap Road. Both picnic areas sit next to the Little River and offer a perfect environment for a picnic.
Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Table | Great Smoky Mountains National Park | Photo: Marc Bowman
One hundred twenty-two picnic sites with tables and charcoal grills are available on a first come first served basis. There is no fee for using the sites.
Accessible restrooms with flush toilets are conveniently located at the picnic area. The park also provides drinking water via water fountains.
Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area Restrooms | GSMNP | Photo: Marc Bowman
Little River is a popular spot for fishing and tubing in the park. Bring your fishing gear and catch your lunch.
IMPORTANT: If you want to fish, make sure you have a license. Park Rangers hand out stiff fines to anglers fishing without a fishing license.
RELATED: Fishing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Hiking at Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area
Metcalf Bottoms Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park. The trailhead is on Wear Cove Gap Road just over the bridge. A short hike on this trail takes you to the historic Little Greenbrier School. Walk a little farther and you can see the famous Walker Sisters’ Cabin. The Walker Sisters were some of the last people to live in the park.
Little Greenbrier School & Cemetery | Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area | GSMNP
Curry Mountain Trail is only a five-minute walk from the picnic area. For a genuine hiking experience, take the path next to Little River Gorge Road for a couple hundred yards and cross over to the other side. The trailhead is marked with signage.
IMPORTANT: The entire north half of the picnic area is closed in winter and the National Park Service removes the dumpsters from the picnic area. During these months (November 1 – April 19, 2022) you must “pack out” your garbage and take it with you.
Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Pavilion
Due to its central location between Gatlinburg and Townsend, Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Pavilion is a convenient place to have a family reunion, a church group picnic, or some other type of group outing.
The pavilion has tables and seating for 70 guests and provides several charcoal grills to cook for them all. The pavilion is in the north picnic area.
Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Pavilion is open from April 19 to October 27, 2022.
The pavilion does not have electricity, but it does have drinking water.
IMPORTANT: You must reserve pavilions. Each day, two periods are available for rental: 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM and 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. If you want the pavilion for the entire day, you must reserve it for both periods.
A charge of $25 is required for each reservation period.
Check availability, book reservations, or make payments online at Recreation.gov or by calling 800-365-2267.
If no one is using the pavilion, anyone may use it. However, if someone arrives with a reservation, you must immediately pack your gear and move to an available picnic site.
IMPORTANT: There is a 10-ton weight limit on the Metcalf bridge. No buses, motorhomes, trailers, etc. are allowed.
Nearby Points of Interest
Metcalf Bottoms Trail is popular with day hikers and picnickers alike. Historical buildings and an easy hike are two reasons for its popularity. Elkmont is one of the most visited historical areas in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is only a few minutes drive away.