The Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountains, have a wide range of elevations, making them home to over 400 vertebrate species, 100 tree species, and 5000 plant species. Hiking is the park's main attraction, with over 800 miles (1,300 km) of trails, including 70 miles (110 km) of the Appalachian Trail. Other activities are fishing, horseback riding, and visiting some of nearly 80 historic structures.
Very well marked and maintained trail with plenty of challenge without being too difficult. Lots of beautiful vistas along the way. Definitely go early if you want to enjoy Charlies Bunion without a crowd.
I recommend taking the short detour up to The Jump Off on your way to Charlies Bunion. It's only about 0.4 miles round trip to a cliff overlook. It is a little more rugged than the main trail, but well worth the effort.
Great family hike! I would describe it as mostly easy as most elevation gain is very gradual. The trail along the Little River is wide enough for 4 hikers abreast with a mostly flat surface. Loose rocks under the carpet of Fall leaves
make twisting an ankle a possibility. Trekking poles are helpful. The view of the Little River is beautiful and the sounds of the water cascading over the rocks is relaxing. The terrain of Cucumber Gap is more variable in elevation and surface with loose rocks and ruts hiding beneath the leaves. Here again trekking poles are valuable.
I did this beautiful hike solo during the 2016 Thanksgiving Holiday. It was a wonderful challenging hike that offered some spectacular views. It took 1 hour and 40 minutes to ascend with no breaks. I stayed on the summit eating lunch and watching the billowing clouds for an hour. Surprisingly Santa and Rudolph were at the top helping hikers make memories! The descent was 1 hour and 10 minutes with a few stops for photos and water (more of a jog then walk). This was a hike I would love to do again with my family and possibly stay at the LeConte Lodge.
Glad to find the old steam engine in the creek. It was easy to see and easy to walk up to for photos. Came across a hiker yesterday on Porters Creek trail who was searching for it with no obvious luck. Hope we somehow run into him again to tell him he can find it 3.5 miles into the Grapeyard Ridge trail. (We parked on road just before the bridge. The trailhead is across the road and can be easily missed.)
Nice out and back trail. We went on Thanksgiving weekend and were very impressed. Very obvious of the upgrades including new bridges and staircases throughout the trail. Be ready for a good uphill climb starting at mile one but well worth the view at the top. We got to the top just in time before the smokey clouds overtook the view. Chimney top mountain's fire kept a slight campfire smell across the second half of the trial today but the smoke was not terribly bad. For sure a trail for your Smokey bucket list.
Charlie's Bunion provides a spectacular view. Traveling up the Kephart trail leads you directly to the Newfound Gap trail. By parking at the Newfound Gap parking lot you can cut the hike in half. This trail doesn't provide any great views until you reach your destination. This trail isn't difficult, but strenuous. The forest is beautiful as always though. Charlie's Bunion is well worth the hike. Once you arrive at the top there will be a rock face you can climb up or take the dirt path towards the entrance to. It will provide a great aerial view of the Charlie's Bunion. Enjoy!