Whether it’s for a romantic date, family outing or an outdoor adventure with friends, picnics in the Great Smoky Mountains can be memorable events if proper prior planning has taken place. The Great Smoky Mountains provide many excellent picnic spots, with one of the most enthralling being the Cades Cove region. Cades Cove covers over 6,500 square miles in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and features a variety of outdoor activities in some of the most stunning scenery on Earth. The 11-mile loop that circles the valley has many ideal spots for those wanting to enjoy picnics in the open air. The loop can be traveled by foot, bicycle, hay-wagon, horseback or private vehicle, ensuring access to all.
Packing a picnic lunch to enjoy in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains should naturally involve the types of food that taste the best when eaten out-of-doors. There’s a reason why cold fried chicken is such a picnic classic. A picnic hamper full of chicken, macaroni salad, rolls baked from scratch and cold lemonade is the perfect accompaniment to a walk or a ride along the Cades Cove loop. Or some bread, cheese, chocolate, and wine after enjoying a sampling together at a local winery and selecting favorites together.
Those who choose to drive to their picnic destination along the loop should keep in mind that the speed limit is 20 mph and should also be advised to keep watch for hikers, riders and others along the trail. The Sugarlands Visitors’ Center offers a guidebook of the loop trail to those visiting the area. Guided programs are available during the summer months through October. Those who plan to drive the loop trail during peak season should schedule plenty of time because driving time can be longer than three hours.
Abundant wildlife exists in the Great Smoky Mountains, including those purveyors of picnic baskets, black bears. Visitors should under no circumstances share the contents of their picnic baskets with bears, and all scraps of food should be thoroughly removed from the area after the meal is finished. Bears who become too used to thinking of human picnics as sources of snacks run the risk of being destroyed by authorities should they attempt to become too friendly with picnickers.
Because mountain weather can be changeable no matter what time of year, picnickers are advised to pack one lightweight, water-proof jacket each before setting out to enjoy their outdoor repast.