Charlies Bunion via Appalachian Trail

MODERATE 499 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
1,981 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.

backpacking
5 hours ago

Definitely a must see if you're in the area! 4 miles up and 4 miles down. The first 2 miles are mostly up hill but don't get discouraged! It is definitely worth the hike. When you eventually get to the "Charlie's Bunion" sign, most people take a left toward the "Bunion". I recommended taking a right to stay on the AT. There is a small trail as soon as you form to the right on the left hand side.. Take that straight up to the trail less traveled for an even BETTER view of the Smokies! This is the highest point t possible to view the Bunion. Make sure you bring plenty of water and snacks!

hiking
8 hours ago

Great trail. Took my 7 yr and we had the Bunion to ourselves for 40 amazing minutes today. Trail is absolutely moderate, not hard but not easy. First2 miles is uphill but then levels out to a nice high forest. The length should not be a deterrent if you bring enough food and water. Great views but the Bunion is small. Could be dangerous when crowded.

hiking
16 hours ago

A lot of trees covered some of the great views but the ones we found were spectacular. A great hike into a temperate rainforest.

hiking
2 days ago

Fantastic hike, amazing views

hiking
5 days ago

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.

10 days ago

Amazing views! Absolutely breathtaking.

hiking
11 days ago

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).

hiking
11 days ago

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

hiking
12 days ago

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

17 days ago

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
19 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.

backpacking
22 days ago

I’ve hiked a lot in both TN and NC and this is by far my favorite hike.!!!

hiking
22 days ago

The vegetation was unreal. It was beautiful; everything felt so alive, like the plants and trees were going to break out in song and dance. Great hike! I’d totally do it again.

trail running
27 days ago

Fun trail with gentle grades that ends at the spectacular Charlie’s Bunion. There are some rocks and roots, but nothing technical. There’s a spring along the way if you need water.

hiking
27 days ago

Did this segment along while going up to Mount Leconte. It's a nice little detour if the weather is good (on my way up, clouds were hiding everything, but it was nice on my way down)

29 days ago

Best view we’ve had in the Smokies! My wife and I did this trail the day after we had hiked around 10 miles. Even being a little sore, this trail was doable but moderate. The trail was uphill coming back from the Bunion. Well worth it, was great!

hiking
1 month ago

Started this hike at around 8am and we were lucky enough to miss the fog as it rolled in after we departed Charlie's Bunion. I would rate this trail on the easier side of moderate. There are a few water sources along this trail with one being marked near the Icewater Spring Shelter. There is also an outdoor toilet on the way up. The trailhead itself is a lookout that was very popular for motorist driving through. There were also restrooms located there. The view from Charlie's Bunion was well worth the hike.

1 month ago

Great hike
Foggy and rain most of the hike but cleared just as we reached the Bunion for 10 mins, then thunder storms rolled in just as quickly.
Good reminder to always be prepared for all types of weather while hiking.

hiking
1 month ago

The view was amazing! The hike can be rough in spots because it goes straight up hill, but the trail evens out along the way providing great spots to take breaks. The only down fall was the fog. Luckily when I went, it wasn't too thick. I highly recommend this hike. I am a beginner hiker and it wasn't too vigorous.

1 month ago

There were many great views on the way. Left the trailhead at 7 am. saw quite a few people near the end,that's why we left early.

hiking
1 month ago

Not much to see till you get to Charlie's Bunion. The end definitely makes the hike worthwhile. It falls on the easy side of "moderate", with a good path and slow inclines and declines.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked this last week on the one day of sunshine surrounded by thunderstorms! It was relatively easy with amazing views throughout. A bit crowded at the end of the trail but 100% worth it!

1 month ago

Well marked trail with great views. Not too difficult. Would definitely do this one again.

1 month ago

Not that hard, well marked with great views.

hiking
1 month ago

Favorite trail. Take the beautiful Appalachian Trail to Charles Bunion. Charles Bunion is one of my favorite views of the Smokies. The panoramic view at the top is majestic. Watch for wildlife along the way. I saw a bear cub, buck deer, birds, and multiple small animals. Friend has even seen wild pigs.

FYI, this is not a Chacos, open toe sandal, trail. There are plenty of toe busters, rocks and water breaks, you have to step over and around.

hiking
1 month ago

Great views. Great cardio experience. good mix of through hikers and day hikers

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail.
I had to form a group with other hikers because a bear was walking on a trail just like humans without a joke. I'm assuming it was due to families brought lots of food and had them at shelters along the way.
other than that views were spectacular and you do not want to miss them at the end.

hiking
1 month ago

Sections were on the tougher side of Moderate but it was an enjoyable hike out to Charlie's Bunion. It was foggy on the day we hiked it so not much of a view at CB. Lots of hikers out there but we still saw a couple of deer and a few squirrels. Good signage at the trail splits although the sign at CB was laying down. No fee, restrooms at the trailhead, and plenty of parking.

hiking
1 month ago

Nice hike through the National Park, with some great views at the turn-around point, which make the hike worth it. The weather held up, it wasn't too hot or muggy or rainy, which was great. Although it is a long hike, it isn't too difficult. Lots of parking at the trail head if you get there early.

1 month ago

Great trail, but very rocky. Would rate it at high moderate level. Unfortunately we got stuck in a big storm as we were finishing up. The view was amazing from Charlie’s Bunion. Would definitely do again!

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