Appalachian Trail to Charlies Bunion is a 8.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, TN that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until November.
Nice hike along the summit of the Smokies, with views of Charles Bunion. The trail starts off with a gradual ascent of about 300 feet in the first mile. For the most part, the trail is tree covered, but there are a few views on the way to the Ice Water Spring-AT shelter. The shelter is one of the nicer structures along the AT in North Carolina. It sleeps 12, but a permit and reservation are required through the Park Service. Some of the comments in the AT logbook note that Elk have been seen in this area. The trail continues onto a side trail about a mile north of the shelter. This trail is well marked and goes left to Charles Bunion. This is a large rock out cropping created years ago by a fire, rain and subsequent landslide.
We hiked here for our 5 year anniversary and wow, I can't imagine a better way to spend it! There were two other people at the Bunion, and we waited a while and then had it to ourselves for the time we spent there. It is not an easy hike. There are quite a few steep parts. It is crucial to eat well, lots of carbs and protein, no greasy junk food- and hydrate adequately not only during but also BEFORE hiking. If not, this hike will be gruesome and not so enjoyable! Charlie's bunion was gorgeous, and afterwards, with the small amount of energy we had left, we did the side trail to the Jump Off/ Mt. Kephart summit. It was a HUGE drop off (1,200 ft) and the views are second to none that we have ever seen. If you have binoculars and/or very good vision, you can see way across the overlook to where you were earlier at Charlie's bunion. The people there looked like microscopic organisms, but you could see faintly them! The Ice water spring shelter is very cool. It is just a short 30 second hike off the main trail, and next time we hike here we definitely want to camp out in it. It requires reservations and a permit from the park service. Hope this helps anyone who has never hiked here before!
I originally went up to New Found Gap to go to Mt. Leconte but the alum cave trail was closed and didn't have time to do the other trail, so I was pretty bummed but I stumbled upon this trail, and was long but insanely rewarding! I did not expect the view to be that amazing! It was seriously something out of a magazine! It's a must go!!
Great views even on a somewhat overcast day. Late start or the views would have been clearer. Trail going up was beautiful on the ridge areas with the moss covered rocks and downed trees, beautiful ferns. So exciting when you get that first view of the large rock formation that is the Bunion!!
Great views.. Great hike.... Tough and fun. One of my favorites!
Great but needs better signs for direction as u come off of the back end of the Bunyon if you make the complete loop around it. It doesn't direct you to which wag is back to Newfound Gap.
Absolutely amazing view, worth the very tough elevation changes!! The trail is mostly shaded with great views along the way. If you are looking for a day hike definitely pick Charlie's Bunion. We also went up to the Jump Off, which was also fantastic.
Absolutely one of my favorite trails in the smoky mountains. I thought it was of the easier trails that me and my husband did. And when you get to Charles bunion the view is absolutely fantastic! Loved it.
first 4 miles are rocky and uphill
but its gravy after that
Love this one. Have done it twice and will someday do it again. Met a fiddle player at the jump off last fall, October 2015. She played a couple of songs and we had a great time talking and enjoying interesting conversation. Met and talked to thru hikers at the shelter both times. The bunion is a great place to have lunch.
Somewhat hard trail. Steep climb for the first mile and a half, then another climb coming back. Hardly any views on the way but the view from the Bunion was great.
Kind of scary to get to Newfound Gap and see everyone in the parking lot, but not too many people actually hike. Get there early to avoid large crowds though. Beautiful hike, and if you hike past the sign for Charlie's Bunion (continuing on the AT) there is a side trail that will take you to the top rock.
Great hike today! Took 2 hours to the bunion and the views were worth every step. Was a bit of a up hill hall for 30 minute stretches on the way up. Again views along the way towards the top and then the bunion made it all up!
Nice trail, challenging, but managable. made you work but charlies bunion is so worth it. wooded, dense, rocky trail which is fine even in wet weather
*Facilities at Newfound Gap Lookout parking area*
This hike was one of my favorites! The trails are mostly rock, boulder, and tree roots....so caution is needed with footing and ankles. And your feet WILL BE SORE when you are done. LOL. Aside from that, it's challenging, but enjoyable. A must is to make the extra jaunt to the Jump Off. I promise you, you will not be sorry that you did.
With taking photos and not shoving on through the hike, it took me 6 hours to complete. I suggest going as early as you possibly can....Charlies Bunion gets VERY busy, as the day goes....and there is not a lot of room up there for everyone. So, if you want the rock to yourself for more than 1 minute...take the extra time to get there early. I live in the area, so I can come back here any time I want...so I took minimal time and allowed others who are visiting to have their longer time. :-)
I saw no bears, or snakes. I only saw one doe. However....before getting to the Boulevard trail fork, there is evidence of wild boar. I was staring at the rototilled looking ground, just gazing at it...I heard a very quick, low grunt/growl/snort like sound come from the upper right of where I was standing. I did NOT stick around to see what animal it was....I immediately left, looked behind me several times to see if anything was following me....I was in the clear. I heard no other hikers say they heard or saw anything....I think my experience was an isolated one....and with as busy as the trails were getting, I'm sure no animal wanted to stick around. I only think the situation happened because I was alone, and not making alot of noise.
Don't let my experience deter you from hiking this trail....GO and enjoy the hell out of the GORGEOUS views!!!