Cades Cove
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3 Best Places to Enjoy a Romantic Smoky Mountains Picnic

Looking to enjoy a romantic Smoky Mountains picnic? Here are our favorite picnic destinations in the Smokies!

Few activities can match a picnic in the romance department. That’s especially true if the two of you bring along a favorite beverage and delicious food to share, served up with a picturesque view that sets the mood.

Finding ideal picnic spots in the Smoky Mountains is an integral part of your romantic getaway. Around Gatlinburg, you can certainly find your own corner to enjoy a leisurely repast and relax while the rest of the world zips by.

Here are some of our favorite spots to enjoy a memorable Smoky Mountains picnic.

Note: When you are planning a picnic in this area, be sure that you carry out everything you bring in, especially food. Wildlife prevails out here, especially bears, and you don’t want your lunch to lure them closer to you and other visitors. Also, do not feed any animals should you see them.

Cades Cove Trail & Picnic Area

Cades Cove Photos
Cades Cove | photo via Your Reflections Photography

Tailored for just about everyone, this level nature trail with a storied history offers the perfect picnic backdrop. Going early in the morning on a summer Wednesday or Saturday, when cars aren’t allowed on the loop road until 10 AM, is ideal for avoiding crowds.

Located just outside the entrance to the Cades Cover Loop Road and the Cades Cove Campground, the Cades Cove Picnic Area is a wonderful spot to have a picnic lunch before or after visiting Cades Cove.

There are 81 spots, each with a table and grill, in between Abrams Creek and Green Branch Creek. Quite a bit of wildlife was present during our visit: squirrel, deer, birds, butterflies. Clean restrooms were also available and plenty of bear proof trash cans.

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Hit the trail to witness wildlife in the remnants of a long-gone chestnut grove. You will still see plenty of lush foliage from dogwoods, sourwoods, and maples. The loop also features various preserved cabins and churches scattered around the area from an early 19th-century settlement.

You’ll find the Cades Cove picnic area located near the ranger station and amphitheater on the loop’s eastern edge.

Abrams Falls - Tennessee
Abrams Falls | photo via @the_bluegrass_hiker

Enjoy a Romantic Picnic at Abrams Falls

This popular route will keep you on a steady ascent (675 foot elevation gain) up the park’s mountain ridges and along Abrams Creek. After roughly 2.5 miles on a trail through grassy fields and pine, oak, and hemlock forests, you’ll finally arrive at a breathtaking oasis of 20-foot cascades tumbling into a natural pool.

Abrams falls is a picture perfect place for a picnic, day out painting, swimming if you want, or just relaxing by the lake in front of the falls. Be prepared for a long hike and possibly a large crowd depending on time of year you visit. If your really adventurous you can climb up to the top of the falls and enjoy the view and hidden areas to sit and relax on your own. Bring plenty of water, snacks, camera/go pro and what ever you may want for the hike out. It’s worth the trip for scenic nature lovers and hikers.

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As part of the Cades Cove network of trails, Abrams is easy to access but a bit strenuous for most people because of its steepness and length. Feel free to enjoy your picnic around the water’s edge of the pool, but avoid climbing the slippery rocks or taking a quick dip due to the possibility of accidental falls or drowning.

Bears are especially prevalent here, so don’t forget to pack up and haul out any food you bring in.

hiking alum cave trail to mount leconte
Alum Cave Trail to Mt LeConte

Mt. LeConte Hiking & Picnicking Options

The most challenging hike of the three listed here, the Alum Cave Trail that leads up to Mt. LeConte brings visitors to its peak in a heart-pounding 5.5 miles. But don’t feel that you need to summit and complete this trail.

This is a definite must do thing for an avid hiker. You must be in shape to make it up this mountain. It is not easy. All the routes have differing difficulty levels but all are hard. Some routes are longer and some are shorter and steeper. No matter which way you go, bring more water than you think you will need and plan accordingly…

There are picnic tables and you will want to spend some time up here enjoying the view. Make sure you find the small path up to the rock outcropping that has the best views on the mountain.

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Stop anywhere along the way and settle in for a great lunch with a view, which includes the Arch Rock (1.3 miles from the trailhead), Inspiration Point (2 miles in), Gracie’s Pulpit (2.6 miles in), and Alum Cave (2.2 miles in).

This last spot affords the most beautiful trail views of the Smokies, and because it’s actually an expansive bluff and not an actual cave, there’s plenty of room to spread out a blanket and enjoy a real picnic.

If you have the energy to hike the entire route, you can stop at the LeConte Lodge (5 miles in), where you will definitely deserve to enjoy your picnic lunch, before hiking up the rest of the third-highest mountain in the park.

Related: 7 of the Best Smoky Mountain Hiking Trails [Easy to Moderate]

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