Charlies Bunion via Kephart Loop is a 14.8 mile loop trail located near Cherokee, North Carolina that features a great forest setting and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 14.8 miles Elevation Gain: 3,677 feet Route Type: Loop




no dogs

Avoid the crowds to this scenic overlook. This challenging hike offers an alternative route to Charlies Bunion to avoid the crowds of Newfound Gap. The first 2 mi is a nice stroll through the area of and old CCC camp. The Kephart Shelter is in the middle of this 3-way intersection. Take the Sweat Heifer Trail to the left; the next 3.7 miles will be the hardest part of the hike. Near the top you reach a small clearing and as you catch your breath slowly turn around for breath taking views of NC. A few more yards turn right on the Appalachian Trail and continue on the AT when you reach the Boulevard Trail. About 1.5 mi the spur trail to the left to Charlies Bunion. When you leave Chrlies Bunion you can continue to the right to reach the AT and turn left for about 0.2 mi to the Dry Sluice Trail. Turn right on the this nice soft wooded trail for 1.3 mi. Turn right on Grassy Branch Trail and you will quickly descend for 2.5 mi to the backside of the Kephart Shelter. It is a easy stroll back on the Kephart Prong to your car

Not very scenic and limited views at the top. Not many people on the trail if that’s what you’re looking for. Completed this trail mid March, maybe it’s prettier in the Spring. Did it counterclockwise. It’s a total of 15 miles, so AllTrails is not accurate.

5 months ago

phenomenal trail. started at Newfound and camped overnight at Kephart shelter which is amazing, quiet, next to a beautiful stream. hike is challenging but do-able uphill, well maintained. worth it for a quick 2 day loop!

6 months ago

Great trail with great views. I ran/hiked this in early November. Only came across other hikers at the very top. Not sure how other reviewers distance came out to be so much longer. Mine came in at 14.5 miles

9 months ago

We set out to do a long day hike with a view and this checked all the boxes. I will say that at roughly 5.7 miles where the “pay off” was supposed to be there was a field of bees. Also, this was about 2 miles longer than it’s listed as. We had it around 15.7.

10 months ago

Awesome trail. Make sure you actually continue on the trail once you reach Charlie's Bunion - we thought we were supposed to turn around and wasted about two extra miles because the instructions here are difficult to understand...

11 months ago

This was an awesome trail and would be one of the best for me. We thought it was 13 miles but actually the loop was 17.4 miles with 4780 ft elevation. Trail was well maintained. It has 4 to 5 streams with bridges with in a mile. It was a very good workout for us. At the top Charles Bunion’s view was breathtaking. We didn’t see any of the view photos much in order to experience by ourself. We started at 11:30am and back by 7:30pm. Excellent and one of the best! :)

Thu Mar 07 2019

The trail was well maintained, the views were amazing. We went the first weekend in March, we were not able to do the full loop due to a landslide. The park rangers said that the part after bunion was not passable. I would totally recommend this hike. We backpacked and I will say if your not in decent shape you will struggle. The views up at Charlies Bunion will not disappoint.

Tue Dec 25 2018

Definitely my favorite hike in NC during my week there. 16 miles with 4000ft of elevation gain! Switch backs made it very doable though. The stream at the beginning of the hike was beautiful especially in the early morning with the sunrise. Charlies Bunion had some amazing views and was completely quiet which was a pleasant surprise. The Jump off was equally as nice but had a few people there enjoying the views. Highly recommend you summit both Charlie's Bunion and The Jump Off! As I was finishing up for the day a few people were setting up for the night in the shelter so I assume it's a very popular overnight stay. Cant recommend this hike more than enough while in the Smoky mountains!

Sun Jul 29 2018

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!

Sun Apr 29 2018

It was nice to have a good portion of the trail to ourselves even though it was a Saturday (sweat Heifer and beyond Charlie’s bunion encountered only 3 other groups total). Agree that the 3.7 mile portion of the sweat heifer was most difficult part of trail. Crossing streams/small waterfalls was fun throughout the kephart prong, sweat heifer, and dry sluice portions.

Fri Aug 25 2017

Encountered a black bear past Charlies Bunion on the Dry Sluice Trail. Good times!

Sun Jun 18 2017

We stayed in the Kefart shelter for the night and another night in Icewater with 3 teenagers. It was amazing experience.

Wed Apr 05 2017

Definitely one of the most beautiful hikes I've been on!! Even the forest is surreal! Also one of the most strenuous hikes as the first 2.7 miles is mostly up hill and mostly rocky terrain. I parked at the Newfound Gap large parking area and followed the Kephart Trail to the Newfound Gap Trail. After 1.7 miles you'll come to a sign for Kephart Trail to the right...I stayed straight and continued for another mile to the next sign, then headed right. There is a shelter in .2 miles and just a slight ways past continuing on to trail, you will find a pipe coming out of the hillside with ice cold delicious water!! Charlies Bunion is another mile on that trail making 4 miles in and 4 back. Very well worth the sore feet and legs with views that are substantial!! Enjoy!

Sun Apr 02 2017

My favorite trail in the park! Spectacular views at the top!

Sat Feb 18 2017

Love it

Thu Nov 24 2016

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!

Fri Nov 04 2016

Beautiful trail! Definitely go early! Started the trail around 8am and by the time we made it to the bunion and back, the Newfoundland Gap parking lot was packed and the road up the mountain was backed up. It is a long hike, but very doable. The view is absolutely worth it... there are multiple levels to explore and areas to take a break. Bring a snack! Will definitely be coming back.

Sun Jul 17 2016

Hiked the trail from Newfound parking lot and at first clouds covered the scenery. After it cleared and we got to the top the view was priceless! Would go on it again any day!

Sun Mar 27 2016

It is long and strenuous trail which took us about 8 hours to finish. It is fun and interesting, you see a typical Great Smoky view and experience different variety of landscapes. The first 4 miles up was brutal, once up to the top of Charlies Bunion, you can enjoy the way down from Grassy Branch Trail.

Thu Sep 18 2014

It was my first trail to hike in the smokey mountains and it was just perfect. Can't wait to experience more trails.

Sat Aug 23 2014

Great hike. Not too bad of a climb. Maybe rate it moderate. Worth the views. :) A must do for GSMNP.

Sun Jul 28 2013

Just really starting to hike but did this trail Saturday and loved it! The 4 miles up is strenuous but the view is worth it!!

Thu Oct 18 2012

could have been a nice view, I'm not sure the clouds rolled in before I got all the way out there

Fri May 04 2012

We actually did Charlie's Bunion from the trailhead at the New Found Gap parking lot, which is 4 miles in and 4 miles back. The trail is easy to follow and well maintained. It climbs for 2 miles from the trailhead. Then it's up, down, and level for about a mile and right where the trail splits from the path to Jump Off, it takes on a pretty decent for the last mile to the bunion, which seems great at first until you realize you're climbing both directions. I'm still pretty new to hiking so this took a lot out of me, but I am psyched that I completed it. We met a guy at the Bunion that was in the midst of completing the whole AT from Georgia up to Maine. Good luck guy, where ever you are!

Showing results 1 - 30 of 55