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This is such a unique hike! You get good views of Lake James early on and they don’t stop as you reach the top and beyond. Lots of ledges to look out on and plenty of great camping spots along the way and at the top. Not a big time commitment either - Really loved this hike.

Best view you will see in North Carolina!! Relatively easy hike with a huge payoff. Highly recommended.

The end of the trail at the peak of the mountain makes the hike completely worth it! It's a gorgeous 360° view.

Very beautiful and fun place to swim, but also very crowded with lots of families. Short and easy hike, I would not rate it as moderate.

I proposed to my wife on Babel Towers 25 years ago. Went back today with our daughter and her finance. Beautiful day!

My ABSOLUTE favorite hike in the Smoky Mountains. I always hike up to the Jump Off then back Down to Charlie's and it is always worth it. My gps clocked it at 9.2 miles to complete the Jump Off, Icewater Spring Shelter, and Charlie's Bunion. This hike never disappoints.

didnt think it was that difficult to hike to the bathtub , some slippery rock and mud, but that is to be expected hiking along a creek , the water was a bit chilly but crystal clear definitely will do again

Loved this section of the AT! So beautiful. Took my girls (age 7 & 10) backpacking for the weekend and this was great for them as well. They are pretty tough kiddos and did great. We stayed at the Mountain Harbour B&B, and after an awesome, huge breakfast, we were shuttled to Carvers Gap and started our hike back to 19E. Big Bald was intense but we loved every minute of it. This is defiantly a section I would love to repeat.

hiking
5 days ago

A challenging hike well worth the views from Rocky Top.

backpacking
8 days ago

The access road *is* accessible in a sedan. I managed to get a Charger up it, in the rain, with minimal fuss. Just be mindful of the blind corners, as most of the road is only wide enough for one vehicle.

PLENTY of water available from top to bottom this week. Just listen for water (and/or use your topo!) and you’ll find’em.

This is definitely a difficult hike when fully kitted out. I noticed the majority of people were carrying small day packs. Once you hit the switchbacks, you’re committed. The trail is well marked and clear, but definitely sketchy in a few areas and rather strenuous on the way up (and down!). Summer heat/humidity plus thunderstorms made for an interesting (and tedious) ascent.

Definitely doing this one again. I set up camp in a clearing just past the Gully Pipe, my hammock just a few feet from a cliff overlooking the Gorge. Absolutely stunning views at sunset, the sounds of the river almost 1,000 feet below and a gentle breeze made for an incredible site.

All said, an amazing trail and definitely worth doing. Just remember to do your part and LNT while visiting.

Amazing views! Absolutely breathtaking.

Went early like most of the previous reviews suggested (we were on the trail by 7:45am and only saw 2 other cars in the parking area). Ran into about 4 ppl total on the hike to the Bunion, so pretty much had the hike to ourselves.

Lots of steps and scrambling over rocks, which made this trail unique and absolutely fun! The Bunion was masterful; climbed out onto it and had a 45 minutes break with snacks, sunshine, birds, butterflies and stunning, mile-high views.

Headed back to the car, we had to yield frequently to hikers headed up (it was 10:30a by this point) but still were able to make the round-trip hike (including the 45 min AT the Bunion) in just over 4 hours. Our hike ended just after 11am, and by this time the trail head was swarming with people, dogs, kids...and the parking lot was overflowing.

So glad we did this hike early!! And so worth the trek!! Will do again, and will start even earlier (would suggest 7am).

This trail is exactly moderate. Offers lush vegetation, bear sightings, and the occasional salamander.

The views from Charlie’s Bunion are amazing whether it’s clear sky’s, or dissipating clouds. Get an early start to avoid crowds. Most folks don’t get out to the trail until after 9 am. Get up early and enjoy the breathtaking view with limited to no company

Amazing wildlife! We saw 3 small wolves scampering around, deer, and accidentally walked a few feet from a rattlesnake! We went counterclockwise around the loop, reaching the bathtub at mile 5. The first 1.5 miles were super steep, but all pretty easy after that. The bathtub was gorgeous. We went on a weekday and saw no one on the trail until we got past the bathtub and saw people doing the 4 mile out and back hike. You have to hop over rocks but it had been dry for a week or so and I didn't feel like I ever had to put on the water shoes I brought. definitely go on a weekday- I can see it being kinda cramped and miserable with a whole bunch of people.

Moderately difficult trail mainly due to wash out along the trail. Views at the end were great. Hiked early on a Saturday morning and only saw 2 other groups. Very limited parking at the trail head (maybe 4-5 spots). Trail forks near the end, stay left. Enjoyed the hike but will explore other trails in the area next time

The first 1.4 miles is mostly an uphill, rocky climb to the summit. After that, the trail flattens out, but it becomes more overgrown and quite narrow. There are several rock outcroppings after about the 1-mile mark with amazing views of the Gorge and Lake James. There's almost no shading on the trail, so hike early and bring a lot of water, especially in the summer. I hiked after a lot of rain, and there was also quite a bit of water on the trail. Overall, this is a great trail with fantastic views as you climb higher.

long hike. pushed about two miles because the lady didnt believe me when i said the sign for jumpoff was actually a trail turn. well worth the push through the clouds. saw a bear within 15 minutes on the trail. if you actually know how to handle yourself this hike is well worth it. go early for the bunion itself is small in size and large groups get dangerous

hiking
10 days ago

good lordy is this a thigh burner. first mile isnt bad but then its a constant incline. my camp site was over ran by bees so i just pushed to rocky top and thunder head. well worth the push. the blue haze and smokey clouds that roll in are worth an hour long site to embrace.

hiking
13 days ago

10/10 would hike again.

this is a fantastic trail with views to compete with some of the best. difficult but well worth it

Highly recommend. Beautiful 360 degree views. Areas of open fields with wildflowers. Areas for camping/shelter and water sources. Would make for a great hike in, overnight stay. It rained on us all day which made for some very wet terrain. Even areas of standing water. Difficult at times but never a regret.

Loved this trail! You want an early start so you can enjoy the day hike! I took my ten year old and she did well.l - it’s definitely modern to more intense if you aren’t an avid hiker but you will def be able to do it if you pace yourself! Well worth the view at the end and nice scenery along the way!

hiking
16 days ago

We took off via the Lead Cove trail head, and only ran into a few people before reaching the Bote Mountain split. It is a climb from start to finish. Spence Field is a great place to take a break before heading on up to Rocky Top, where the view is amazing. We spent more time up there than we meant to.

I knew what I was getting into with this hike, but it was still very challenging. Prepare for a long difficult trip if you aren't in excellent shape. My tracker also said that it was 12.8 instead of 11.6 round trip so keeping up with that threw me off a little bit.

Gets a little steep at the end, but the views are so worth it! When you get to the top, head right for an awesome panoramic view of the mountains! If you go to the left, you can scramble out to some rocks for really good views of Table Rock as well! We started the hike at about 1pm and there weren’t too many people up top which was nice!

hiking
17 days ago

This trail never disappoints! We started early, only seeing a few hikers. On the return trip we passed about a hundred people heading to the Bunion. An early start is key if you enjoy some quiet time out there or would like to avoid crowds. The round trip timing is accurate (for most). You need about 5 hours which includes relaxing / snack time at the Bunion and stopping to observe nature. Lovely views, wildflowers and mossy areas that look like a movie scene.

We were there all of 15 minutes. Within that time period we witnessed 2 complete dumbasses jump from the falls. One of which was covered in Swastika and white supremacy tattoos (he grazed the cliff on the way down).It was crowded with a pretty colorful array of people. We pretty much ran out of there. Skip this

The trail was wonderful! We went in the morning (started about 8am) and it never got too hot which was a huge plus for me, especially since it was mid July. The sights were beautiful and completely worth it. I got to see a momma dear and her two babies on the trail also!

I do warn though, it gets very busy since it’s in a very touristy area so going early would be the best. When we got done with the hike, it was very crowded and a lot of people were on the trail then. So go early if possible!

hiking
20 days ago

On July 13, 2018 ( a humid day) my family undertook to hike this trail while we visited the area from Missouri. Despite hesitations from my wife and the relative young age of our boys (9 and 7) I remained strong in my conviction to see this place on earth as I have heard it is beautiful. It was as stated by the reviews rugged and steep. To reach the top was work. This was offset by wild blue berry eating along the way. It was all worth it. The view from the top is spectacular. There is a nice view up the gorge and of a few of the distinct area peaks not to mention the scenery is generally great. By the time we were descending the last half mile we were out of water and the troops were decidedly weary. Still this was one of our best family hikes.

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