Metcalf Bottoms, located between Gatlinburg and Townsend, Tennessee on Little River Road, is one of the most popular picnic areas in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. With picnic tables scattered under a canopy of cool shade trees along the Little Greenbrier River, Metcalf Bottoms is the perfect place to spend a lazy Smoky Mountain summer afternoon.
Once the Metcalf family farm, Metcalf Bottoms is now a large picnic area with plenty of space along the rich bottom land by the Little Greenbrier River. As Little River Road was being built, the Metcalf family often brought fresh spring water to the many workers building the roadway. The National Park Service remembered this wonderful gesture of kindness by naming the picnic area after them.
Metcalf Bottoms’ proximity to the Little Greenbrier River is just one of the reasons this picnic area is one of the most popular in the park. From families looking for a great place to enjoy a shaded picnic lunch to kids playing in the cool waters, there’s plenty to do on and around the river at Metcalf Bottoms. There are several good swimming holes along the river to enjoy a dip in the cool, clear mountain waters. Tread carefully in the water because the rocks are slippery in the somewhat swift current. Fishing and tubing are also popular activities along this stretch of the river.
The Metcalf Bottoms picnic area offers 165 picnic sites that fill up quickly during the summer months. There are concrete picnic tables and park grills at each site, with some sites right on the waters edge and others closer to the roadway. A pavilion with seating for about 70 people is available for a rental fee during the busy summer season. Restrooms are conveniently located throughout the picnic area.
In addition to enjoying a wonderful mountain picnic, fishing and swimming in the river, Metcalf Bottoms offers plenty more to do. Just across the newly refurbished, one-lane wooden bridge from the picnic area is a half mile trail trail that leads to the Little Greenbrier schoolhouse. If walking off your picnic lunch is not for you, you can also drive to the schoolhouse. Simply cross the one-lane bridge and follow the road about a half mile to a gravel road on the right leading to the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse. The old schoolhouse still contains the desks and blackboard left there when it was last in use in the 1930′s. Grades 1-8 were taught at Greenbrier school by a single teacher. On the hillside just outside the schoolhouse you will find an old community cemetery.
If you are looking for something a little more adventurous and have the time while visiting Metcalf Bottoms is taking a trek to the Walker Sisters’ home site. The trail-head to their home is located off the parking lot for the Greenbrier Schoolhouse. The sisters were some of the last living residents inside what is now the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. When the federal government decided to establish a national park in the Smokies the five Walker sisters refused to sell their land. They eventually came to an agreement with the federal government whereby they sold their land but retained a lifetime lease on the property. The Walker sisters claimed their land produced everything they needed accept sugar, coffee, soda and salt. And until the last Walker sister passed away in 1964 the sisters farmed the land while supplementing their efforts with the sale of souvenirs to park tourists.
Another wonderful hiking trail near the picnic area between Metcalf Bottoms and Gatlinburg is the 2 /12 mile round trip Laurel Falls Trail. This paved trail is rated moderate in difficulty and is a must for families looking for a fairly easy to access breathtaking 80-foot waterfall. This trail is extremely popular and the small parking area for the Laurel Falls trail fills early in the day.
METCALF BOTTOMS DIRECTIONS
GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
Metcalf Bottoms is 15 miles west of Gatlinburg, TN on Little River Road. Take Newfound Gap Road (US 441) south from Gatlinburg and turn west on Little River Road (TN 73) at the Sugarlands Visitors Center. Travel approximately 10 miles on Little River Road and turn right at Metcalf Bottoms sign.
The less traveled route and the route most convenient to guests staying in and around Wears Valley and Pigeon Forge is about 9 miles down Wears Valley Road (Light #3) from Pigeon Forge. Turn left on Lyon Springs Rd. and follow it to the end. Cross the one lane bridge and you’re at Metcalf Bottoms.
To Reserve the Picnic Pavilion at Metcalf Bottoms follow the link below:
Call the Park for More Information: