Throughout Grandfather Mountain’s history, picnicking has long been a favorite past time for visitors looking to create lasting memories with their friends and loved ones over a meal in the outdoors.
Grandfather Mountain has around a dozen picnic areas in the park. These sites are located in some of the mountain’s most picturesque settings, including within the forested Woods Walk area and by overlooks that provide dramatic views of the surrounding mountains. Some even offer glimpses of our resident animals in their natural habitat.
Guests are welcome to bring their meals and utilize the numerous charcoal grills that accompany our most popular picnic sites. Food is also available at Mildred’s Grill, which guests can order to-go and enjoy at one of our many scenic picnic settings.
Additionally, be sure to check the park’s weather for the day and dress appropriately. Even guests who visit on warm July days may need a jacket when venturing toward the mountain’s lofty heights.
Leave No Trace
As a UNESCO International Biosphere Preserve, Grandfather Mountain is one of the most biologically significant nature parks in the world and home to more than 70 threatened or endangered species. We ask our guests to be mindful of this unique ecosystem when dining in the outdoors and to throw away or pack-out all of their trash when finished utilizing the park’s picnic areas.
Bear-proof trash containers are located at our most popular picnicking destinations. However, these containers are not at every single picnic table in the park. We ask guests to kindly pack out all of their trash if they use one of these picnic sites and to utilize the nearest trash container. Moreover, if guests utilize one of the park’s on-site grills, they must completely extinguish their coals and fire before leaving the picnic site.
Grandfather Mountain is one of the windiest locations on the east coast. Help ensure the park stays litter-free by securing your belongings and items when utilizing one of the parks’ picnic sites.
Popular Picnic Spots as You Drive Up Grandfather Mountain
MacRae Meadows: A few picnic tables sit upon a small hillside overlooking MacRae Meadows, the site of the annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. These picnic tables reside by a forested area that offers shade on the sunniest days. It’s the first pull-off on the left past the entrance gate.
Half Moon Overlook: Half Moon Overlook is the first overlook guests come to after entering the park. The overlook provides impressive views of Linville and Morton peaks and is one of the most picturesque settings you can have when dining outdoors on the mountain.
Woods Walk Picnic Area: As Grandfather Mountain’s prime picnicking destination, the Woods Walk Picnic Area provides more than 25 picnic tables for you to use and features several grills, plus a restroom facility on site (open during warmer months). This forested location provides shade to guests during the summer months and a colorful palette of natural wonders to take in during the spring and autumn seasons. Also, take a gentle stroll on the nearby 0.4-mile Woods Walk trail after their meal.
Grandmother Overlook: Two picnic tables reside by the second overlook guests come to after entering the park. These tables provide views of Grandfather Mountain’s neighbor Grandmother Mountain, as well as scenic views of the foothills and piedmont below.
Sphinx Rock: On hot summer days, guests can picnic in the shade underneath one of the mountain’s oldest facades. One table and one grill reside on the far side of Sphinx Rock.
Split Rock Parking Area: Several picnic tables line the walkway that connects the Split Rock parking lot to the Mildred the Bear Animal Habitats. A couple of tables even provide overhead views of resident elk Merle and Watson.
Wilson Center for Nature Discovery: Numerous picnic tables and sites are scattered throughout the outside of the Wilson Center. The most popular sites resides on the deck of the Wilson Center, which is mostly utilized by guests ordering food from Mildred’s Grill, and at the William’s Outdoor Learning Space. Additional tables reside along the road just outside the entrance to the Wilson Center.
Forrest Gump Picnic Area: With a number of picnic tables and two grills, the Forrest Gump Picnic Area, which resides just below Forrest Gump Curve, is the perfect spot to fire up some Bubba Gump Shrimp for your friends and family.
Cliffside Picnic Area: Another one of the park’s most popular picnicking areas, this site features three tables and one grill in addition to a dramatic view of the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi: Mount Mitchell. Moreover, views guests can see from this picnic area include the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, Roan Mountain, Beech Mountain and surrounding mountains.
On the Road to Black Rock: One picnic table is nestled along the roadside just before the Black Rock Parking Area. This site provides a perfect spot to enjoy a meal during busy days on the mountain.
Black Rock Parking Lot: One table by the Black Rock Parking Lot is situated by the entrance to the Bridge Trail, offering hikers a chance to rest and fuel up before setting off on this 0.4-mile hike that sees hikers venturing underneath the Mile High Swinging Bridge. The entrance to the 2-mile out-and-back Black Rock Trail also resides on the other site of the parking lot.
Switchback Picnic Area: One picnic table resides along Grandfather Mountain’s famous switchbacks that lead to the Top Shop and Mile High Swinging Bridge. As the picnic table located at the highest elevation in the park, this site provides dramatic views of the foothills and piedmont below. On clear days, guests may even be able to see the Charlotte skyline.