This is our favorite developed picnic area in the park. Located at more than a mile high and set in a stand of spruce and fir, the picnic area has 41 tables. Nearby is Mile High Overlook, which offers one of the most scenic views of the Smokies and is a great place to enjoy the sunset. For birders, this is a good spot to see golden-crowned kinglets, red-breasted nuthatches, and other species that prefer higher elevations. You're almost certain to see the common raven here.
Nearby are a campground and trailheads for several good hiking trails, including Flat Creek. You can return to Cherokee via an unpaved back road, Balsam Mountain Road, which is one-way, to Big Cove Road. The disadvantage is that due to the high elevation (and the risk of snow and ice) the picnic area is only open from mid-May to early October.
Heintooga Ridge Rd., Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina, 28719, United States