Once a family farm, Metcalf Bottoms is now a large picnic area with plenty of space along the rich bottomland by the river. As Little River Road was being built, the Metcalf family often brought fresh spring water to the many workers. The National Park Service remembered the favor by naming the picnic area for them.
Metcalf Bottoms has two picnic areas, one on each side of Wear Cove Gap Road. Both picnic areas sit next to the Little River and offer a perfect environment for a picnic. The picnic tables are spaced far apart. There is plenty of parking. Locals have been known to utilize the picnic area as well.
One hundred twenty-two picnic sites with tables and charcoal grills are available on a first come first served basis. There is no fee for using the sites. There are bathrooms. I have seen people wading in the creek. I would suggest water shoes. The rocks are slippery. Someone said they saw a snake there. You will need a fishing permit if you want to fish.
The picnic area is pack in and pack out in he winter.
This is the back way from Wears Valley Road utilizing line Springs Road into Gatlinburg. It takes a little longer than going out to the parkway and going into Gatlinburg. But, it is a lot more scenic.
Metcalf Bottoms Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park. The trailhead is on Wear Cove Gap Road just over the bridge. A short hike on this trail takes you to the historic Little Greenbrier School. This charming 19th -century schoolhouse evokes the simpler education of years gone by. Built from logs split up to two feet wide, the school also served as a church from 1882 until the Park’s creation. The original benches and desks still line the room, along with a lectern and a painted blackboard. Walk a little farther and you can see the famous Walker Sisters’ Cabin. The Walker Sisters were some of the last people to live in the park.
Located just 1.5 miles east of Metcalf Bottoms picnic area, The Sinks are a combination of hydraulic rapids and deep pools. Folklore tells of how a logging train once derailed and plunged into the Little River at this spot. It was never found as the bottom could not be reached. Thereafter, this spot was always referred to as “The Sinks.”
Curry Mountain Trail is only a five-minute walk from the picnic area. For a genuine hiking experience, take the path next to Little River Gorge Road for a couple hundred yards and cross over to the other side. The trailhead is marked with signage.