Charlies Bunion via Appalachian Trail

MODERATE 408 reviews

Charlies Bunion via Appalachian Trail is a 8.6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November.

DISTANCE
8.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1981 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

old growth

rocky

snow

washed out

no dogs

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.

hiking
1 day ago

Took the trail from the newfound gap parking lot. There’s a lot of uphill hiking at first (nice to get out of the way though because it’s all downhill for the way back). Charlie’s bunion is not listed on the first wooden sign at the 1.7 mi split. However, just keep following the Appalachian trail and you’ll eventually see signs for it. The view was incredible and worth every step. The trail is well maintained and just absolutely beautiful. If you have the time- definitely do this trail!

3 days ago

Beautiful hike with some epic views. Was a bear near the trail, but we had just missed it. Been wanting to hike the AT, now just have to do the whole thing some say.

hiking
6 days ago

Great hike! View was amazing from Charlie’s Bunion! There’s a toilet at the shelter (FYI

12 days ago

Had a great hike. Fantastic trail with amazing views.
Enjoyed the day with my best friend.(wife)

14 days ago

I was completely blown away by this trail and the view at Charlie’s Bunion. We actually started in the wee hours to reach the Bunion for daybreak. If you’re a fairly skilled hiker in possession of a headlamp, definitely consider that option. What a unique and breathtaking experience to have the space all to ourselves, hear the forest come alive, and watch the mountains slowly gain color. The trail itself is also beautiful. There’s something about the mossy trees and wildflowers that was really enchanting. Plus it’s cool to walk a section of the famous Appalachian Trail and see some thru hikers this time of year. Fully recommend.

26 days ago

Great trail!! Panoramic views along the way and once you reach Charlie’s Bunion you will be left speechless! Highly recommend

hiking
26 days ago

I met a lot of great folks on this trail in April through hiking the AT to Maine from Georgia..super nice people. GOOD LUCK GUYS!!!! AND LADIES!!!!

hiking
1 month ago

Second time doing this hike, always a good one to stretch the legs. Nice time chatting with the thru-hikers this time of year and spreading a little trail magic!

Great hike. Stopped at Jump Off as well. Beautiful views!

hiking
1 month ago

Great day hike, but you really should consider adding the Jump Off at the end.
Very nice views along the route. As many have noted, the Bunion is crowded with day hikers and thru hikers. There's room to at the viewpoint depending on your confidence and adventure level.

I would recommend combining this with the Jump Off trail -- this is an unofficial trail about 2.7 miles in from the Newfound Gap parking lot on the AT which is marked at the junction that says to Mt Leconte and Jump Off. About .10 miles down the trail there will be another sign for Jump Off. The payoff is a gorgeous panoramic with very little people there.
I did the Jump Off on the way back.
In all, makes for a nice 10 miler and not a bad way to spend the day on the mountain.

hiking
1 month ago

Fair, moderate hike. The views at the end are nice if you can get to the highest viewpoint, but unfortunately there's only room for about 2 people. Trail is mostly shaded and wet in several spots. The parking lot was full, but only a few folks ventured onto the trail. There is a restroom at the trailhead.

hiking
1 month ago

Did this hike with my mom. Wasn’t too hard I think it’s just a little lengthy. But the view was beautiful. Only complaint is that there is one bug that you kind of have to fight for in order to get a good panoramic view. Otherwise really gorgeous.

hiking
1 month ago

Breathtaking views when you reach Charlie's Bunion! It was a bit chilly on some parts of the hike, and very wet throughout, so bring layers and wool socks. Also, stop by the Icewater Spring Shelter on the way and get inspire by thru-hikers.

2 months ago

Hiked it on Thurs., March 15. The parking lot was packed but the trail wasn’t too crowded. Most people were there for photos from the parking lot overlook. My GF and I are mid 40s and in decent shape. It took us 6 hours round trip including a number of breaks to take photos. Encountered everything from dry ground to mud, snow and ice along the way up. Lots of wind. Strenuous hike but well worth it. Spikes and poles would have made it a lot more manageable. It was a sunny day with very few clouds and the view was spectacular! This trail was the highlight of our trip to the Smoky Mountains.

hiking
2 months ago

2 months ago

Awesome trail! Just covered in ice in many places. On our way back it was melting, so more slushy and easier to maneuver. Great hike!

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike but strenuous. We had lots of snow and ice. Many spots for beautiful vistas. I’d like this hike because it combines hiking in the forest, with hiking in the mountains with gorgeous views of the great Smoky Mountains.Although the views are stunning, it’s the same view you get from Newfoundland gap parking lot. So, go hiking because it is a wonderful hike. Don’t go because you expect to see some views you can’t see elsewhere.

hiking
2 months ago

Great scenery, great hiking, beautiful weather. The reason not 5 Stars was because of the snow covering the trail and in some places it was solid ice. Recommend some spikes or chains for your feet. Other than that is was a great day

hiking
2 months ago

Was a awesome hike! My favorite so far and just did Mnt Leconte.
Views from Bunion are so amazing!
Also had ice so glad we had micro spikes, makes it a lot easier, faster and safer. Kinda tough hike but to us was well worth it, rocky so wear good boots for sure. Steep inclines so not for beginners and was crowed with tourists, most who did not make it to Bunion

2 months ago

Beautiful views, difficult but fun hike, lots of ice! The trailhead is to the left of the overlook at the Newfound Gap parking lot. Very windy and cold up there so layer up! Also significant ice in some spots so be aware of that but don’t let it hold you back from these gorgeous views. It’s an 8 mile round trip hike and it took us roughly two hours up and another two down with several short breaks. There’s an AT shelter about 3 miles up if you’d like to make it an overnight trip.

2 months ago

Tough trail but worth the effort. Awesome view. Don’t be afraid to take some of the side trails.. for example The Jump off trail is one that is worth the effort also.
Lot of ice in the trail today...

2 months ago

This was by far one of the hardest hikes we’ve done!! Beautiful views the trail is not marked at the trail head it starts at the Newfound Gap parking area to the left of the restrooms!

hiking
2 months ago

This trail was great! Small little views along the way. Very rocky, muddy, and wet. Shelter along the trail is nice with a source of water. Bit of ice in one spot. Charlies Bunion is beautiful with plenty of rocks to climb on. Solid hike!

hiking
3 months ago

Loved this hike! Dense forest, lots of shade, challenging with great views once you're at the top. Bring plenty of water and sandwich and snacks, wear sunscreen. Carry bear spray. Challenging and beautiful hike.

4 months ago

Wow! crazy how weather changes so fast..
60° and sunny down below.. foggy, misty and cold up high (duh)

glad I brought spikes.. alot of this trail was pure ice and I did take a 6 foot spill which I thought was the end of me haha.. This trail was hard with the ice for sure... and the bunion was socked by fog.. Still great hike

4 months ago

A favorite of mine!! Love hiking along the ridge line and how quickly you leave the crowds behind

hiking
4 months ago

Definitely a nice relaxing day hike. Watch out for ice in the winter (my friend fell a couple times). The views were great!

4 months ago

I love this hike! I’ll def do it again. The trail was solid ice in several sections so I would rate it difficult if done in the winter.

backpacking
4 months ago

Moderate Trail.
Completed 24DEC17. A lot spots to stop and take beautiful pictures.
Good for Family.
Dec is very foggy at the morning, for some reason is called Smokies Mountains, however between 1pm to 3pm you will appreciate the views!

hiking
6 months ago

Beautiful hike, easy to moderate. We completed in around three hours, left at 1:50p returned around 5:00p. Not too many people on the trail in mid November, the views are amazing!

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