Highlights of the Chimney Tops Picnic Area
- Excellent picnic area Great for the entire family
- Close to Downtown Gatlinburg
- Choose from over eighty-five picnic spots
- Picnic tables with charcoal grills & parking areas for each
- Restrooms with running water on site
- Prime location along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River
- Swimming/Wading & Fishing on-site
- Wildlife Viewing
Chimney Tops Picnic Area is recommended for the entire family, a must on your next visit to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. This cozy picnic area is very large, can accommodate many and used to be a campground until the National Park Service converted it to picnics only. The Chimneys Picnic Area is open year-round and closes at 8 p.m. or sunset, whichever comes first. Pets are allowed, but must be kept on a lease.
As you pull into the picnic area, stay to the right and work your way by the restrooms on your right. The picnic area is comprised of loops with some of these loops intersect each other. We recommend trying to grab one of the picnic sites that are close to the river, this will allow you to wade around a little bit or even fish some, but still able to see your picnic site. If you can’t get a site close to the river, no worries, you really can’t go wrong with any site in this picnic area. The river is only a short walk from any of the picnic sites. The great thing about the Chimneys Picnic Area is that it isn’t like a traditional picnic area at all. There’s no parking lot, just lots of little pull-offs with picnic tables and grills. The tables are all far enough apart so as not to feel crowded and on top of each other. There are rocks to climb on everywhere you look. And then, there’s wonderful access to a rushing mountain stream.
Be sure to bring picnic supplies, burgers, hot dogs, charcoal and your favorite sides to cook out on your very own park grill at most every site. This picnic area is great for kids of all ages, from wading in the cool water of the Little Pigeon, looking for salamanders and other wildlife to simply breaking out the lawn chairs and taking a snooze with the soothing sounds of the river as a backdrop, you can’t go wrong at the Chimney Tops Picnic Area.
A word of advice, use extreme caution with the little ones, the river and rocks can be somewhat dangerous. The water is fast moving in spots. You’ll need to have adults that can stick close to the little ones, if they are under 10 or so. The rocks can be very slippery in spots and some of the pools can be rather deep. If you stay within arm’s reach of the little ones in case of a slip or fall everyone should have a great time. Use caution and common sense and the Chimney Top Picnic Area will quickly become a Smoky Mountain family tradition.
This area also makes for a great “pit-stop” for those heading to and from Cherokee or Gatlinburg, even if it’s just for a bathroom break or stretch.
Please remember that feeding bears and other wildlife is illegal. The black bear symbolizes the invaluable wilderness qualities of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But bears are dying unnecessarily due to improper disposal of garbage or illegal feeding by visitors. A bear’s remarkable sense of smell may lead it to human foods, such as a picnicker’s cooler, garbage left in the open, or food scraps thrown on the ground or left in the grill.
A bear that has discovered human food or garbage will eventually become day-active and leave the safety of the back-country. It may panhandle along roadsides and be killed by a car or it may injure a visitor and have to be euthanized. Please do your part to help protect black bears and other wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains. Clean your picnic area, including the grill and the ground around the table, thoroughly after your meal.
From Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg take US-441 into the park past the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Continue on 441 about five miles until you reach the entrance to the Chimneys picnic area access road on the right. Follow this access road into the shady and relaxing picnic area to find a spot that suits you and your family. Download a park map to view the location of this and other picnic areas in the park.