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Smoky Mountains - Metcalf Bottoms

Updated on March 1, 2013

Most people don't automatically think of - or even know about - the Great Smoky Mountains Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. In the 1800s Metcalf Bottoms was a farm west of Elkmont owned by William P. and Sarah J. Metcalf. The family supplied fresh water to workers on the Little River Railroad. Their home was located about where the restrooms are located now.

Locals and tourists alike love this spot between the Townsend Wye and Elkmont Campground. Coming from Gatlinburg on Little River Road, Metcalf Bottoms is about 11 miles on the right. The less traveled route is about 9 miles down Wears Valley Road from Pigeon Forge. Turn left on Lyon Springs Rd. and follow it to the end. Cross the bridge and you're at Metcalf Bottoms.

Located on the banks of Little River and open year-round, the 165 sites at the Smoky Mountains Metcalf Bottoms picnic area fill quickly in the summer. There are concrete picnic tables and grills at each area, with some right on the water and others closer to the road. Other than elaborate meals on plaid plastic tablecloths people bring an assortment of other gear, including lawn chairs, swimming supplies, fishing poles and sometimes just a good book.

A pavilion with seating for about 70 people is available for a rental fee during the busy season. See the link below this article to make reservations.

Bears frequent the Smoky Mountains Metcalf Bottoms picnic area and look for food scraps left behind by picnickers. Don't encourage them or feed them. Pick up all trash in your picnic area and use the bear-proof dumpsters. Bears that are fed (either accidentally or on purpose) become acclimated to humans and may become aggressive when you don't share. These bears are often euthanized. Remember the saying that "a fed bear is a dead bear."

All ages enjoy dipping their feet - or more - into the cold, clear water of the river in the summer heat. Walk only on the well-worn paths as poison ivy lurks nearby. Tread carefully in the water, too, because the rocks are slippery in the swift current. Tubing down the river is a popular pastime.

Hiking trails to the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse & Walker Sisters Cabin are just across the old, wooden, single-lane bridge. The Schoolhouse trail is about 1/2 mile long and the cabin is about one mile past that. There is an old cemetery on the way, as well.

A side trip from the picnic area is a favorite waterfall trail between Gatlinburg and Metcalf Bottoms. The Laurel FallsTrail is paved, about 2 1/2 miles roundtrip and rated moderate in difficulty. A breathtaking 80-foot waterfall is located at the top. Note that this can be crowded spot and the small parking area fills early in the day.

For an entertaining afternoon appealing to all ages, I highly recommend a stop at Metcalf Bottoms. If you visit once, you'll surely be back.


show route and directions
A markerGreat Smoky Mountains National Park -
Little River Road & Lyon Springs Road
get directions

Metcalf Bottoms is located on Little River Road and the intersection of Lyon Springs Road from Wears Valley.

B markerLyon Springs Road -
Lyon Springs Rd, Sevierville, TN 37863, USA
get directions


Submit a Comment

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    It is so beautiful, RTalloni and molometer. I hope you get to visit sometime. Thanks for the map suggestion.

  • RTalloni profile image

    RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

    Such a great spot to highlight! :) How neat to hear from Smokymist! (Good thing to protect something of the old home place.) Have you considered adding a map to this hub? Voted up.

  • molometer profile image

    molometer 6 years ago from United Kingdom

    It sounds absolutely stunning. I never did get to the smoky mountains but I am planning a trip to the US next year and will put this on the list of must sees.

    Voted up Beautiful and interesting thanks.

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Thanks for visiting, Hyphenbird. It truly is a beautiful area. I hope you do get to visit!

  • Hyphenbird profile image

    Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    What a lovely Hub. Tennessee is so wonderful anyway and has so much to offer. I lived in Tennessee for many years and still miss it. I don't think I have been here but will put it on my "to visit" list. Thanks so much. Hyphenbird

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Thanks so much, kims3003! I appreciate the positive feedback.

  • profile image

    kims3003 6 years ago

    Loved this! Pleasant read and you have a very nice writing style too.

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    THanks for visiting, zuggmobile (ha!) and Tamarajo! The first time we camped in the Smokies I also thought we'd be attacked by a bear. It got better.

  • Tamarajo profile image

    Tamarajo 6 years ago

    Thanks for the great tip for our next journey to your incredibly beautiful state.

    I have to admit the bears scare me which hinders me from camping. Our last trip I had slopped food on so many of our camping items I thought for sure a bear would smell it and come and eat us in the middle of the night : ) silly I know.

  • profile image

    zuggmobile 6 years ago

    We were wanting to find a place to picnic, relax and put our feet in the water. Another great idea! Thanks!

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Thanks for commenting, Pamela 99. Hope you can visit sometime!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    I've always thought the Tennessee Smoky Mountains were just a beautiful area. I enjoyed your hub and like your pictures. Thanks.

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 7 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Thanks so much for setting the record straight. None of my research gave this information. Do you know the origins of the bridge? I was interested in finding out when it was built. I appreciate your comments. Thanks!

  • profile image

    Smokymist 7 years ago

    Your information is incorrect. Sara J. Metcalf was my great great grandmother. The store they owned was located approx. where the restrooms are now. They owned a store where they sold the watermelon , apples, and other fresh fruits and vegetables they grew, and other items, and where the picnic area is now, was once their garden area. The house was elsewhere, and I'd rather not say where .