Charlies Bunion via Appalachian Trail

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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 is primarily used for hiking, walking, running, and nature trips and is best used from March until November.

Distance: 8.6 miles Elevation Gain: 1,981 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

nature trips

walking

running

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

rocky

washed out

no dogs

Nice hike along the summit of the Smokies, with views of Charles Bunion. Drive to and park at Newfound Gap. The trail to Charlie's Bunion isn't marked, so follow signs for the Applachian Trail and Icewater Spring. Once you get to the Spring, keep on going for about 20 minutes to arrive at Charlie's 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
rocky
26 minutes ago

Loved it

hiking
8 hours ago

Fantastic panoramic views once you get to the summit. Did this trail with my wife and two sons (ages 10 and 12).

hiking
muddy
rocky
2 days ago

The trail was very nice. It was my first time up it, but my girlfriend has hiked it several times. It is a tough trail in some spots, but a easy walk in others. It is also a good trail to view birds. I didn’t bring my camera and I regret that. It was honestly like walking into a Disney film at some times. Birds and squirrels would be within feet of us doing their thing. I would recommend packing a light jacket. Once you get to higher elevations, it can get quite cool. It was a cloudy day for the most part. However, it cleared up once we got to the Charlie’s Bunion. So, I would also recommend hanging around for a while if it is cloudy. It was a bit muddy and there were a few blow downs, but nothing too serious. There was a whole lot of dogs present, even though they are not allowed on backcountry trails.

hiking
3 days ago

Great day hike option. It was a drizzly, foggy day when we did it so we missed out on the views but it was still a good time. It was quite muddy in some areas - I would recommend waterproof hiking boots or trail runners.

Great views!! The Appalachian Trail has Charlie’s Bunion marked ahead of the All Trail app. I suggest to see both.

hiking
rocky
6 days ago

This was a fun trail to do! We unfortunately went on a foggy morning so we didn’t get to enjoy the view at the top. Charlie’s Bunion was none the less cool to see and the hike was enjoyable! Highly recommend you add this to your Great Smoky Mountain National Park must see list!

hiking
muddy
rocky
washed out
8 days ago

I really enjoyed this hike particularly at this time as it was quiet and easy to maintain social distancing. It took us about 4.5 hours round trip. Great views from the top. I would rate this as difficult. We got quite wet in a huge downpour on the way down. I would recommend a change of socks and shoes at the end.

Little bit muddy but just rained yesterday, most parts are gravel though so only bad in some parts, I recommend bringing an extra pair of socks for the way back

great trail - busy one though so if you can, get out early. lots of different settings, but walking along the ridges to see the different vistas of the Smokies was beautiful! definitely take the time to hop off and do the jump off trail and lookout, you'll see wooden signs that indicate where you should go. the bunion is a great place for lunch, but pretty tight up there so be warned.

muddy
11 days ago

hiking
11 days ago

Great hike, make sure you are wearing waterproof comfortable shoes. It was foggy when we went, so it gave the Smokey’s a mysterious vibe.

hiking
flooded
rocky
12 days ago

Great views from the Bunion. Had the place to myself when I first got there around noon. Was a little cloudy and foggy, especially on the way down, so no good views from the Jump Off but I did it anyway. Trail was basically a creek bed in places due to all the rain but not impassable. Nice hike. Completed in just over 4 hours with a couple pit stops/photo ops and 20ish minutes at the top.

hiking
rocky
14 days ago

Great hike!! Most people mistake this area up top as Charlie’s Bunion but make sure to follow the trail for 5-10 more mins. until you see a steep path on the left. That is the real Charlie’s Bunion and you will most likely have the view all to yourself! Go early as this hike gets very crowded. And definitely don’t skip the jump off - the views are incredible.

hiking
14 days ago

Such a fun trail! A lot of steps and a good workout in it self. I did it solo, a bit muddy but it didn’t bother me!!! Do the LOOKOUT JUMPOFF side it’s 0.3 instead of Charlie bunion lookout, better views :)

hiking
15 days ago

Great trail! Recommend leaving early to avoid the crowds. There’s not much room at the bunion, but there’s good views at the AT shelter to rest and eat.

Wonderful hike. Defiantly go see the jump off.

A bit rocky at the start. Excellent views at the end. Recommend the additional hike to the Jump as it’s a bit less crowded. Lots of other hikers on the trail

hiking
17 days ago

One of my favorite trails. Wear layers. We left at 8:00 am and it was foggy and cool but warm by the time we were done. Would recommend leaving early to avoid crowds. Definitely take the side trail to Jump Off - amazing views.

hiking
bugs
rocky
17 days ago

Very touristy and packed for the first bit, then after ice water shelter things thin out. Beautiful views, better than Leconte for view. There is a .3 mile jump off trail that gives you a view of the bunion. Overall great hike!

hiking
17 days ago

Great hike! LOTS of uphill (I think we were about 2000" climb) well marked and traveled so easy to follow. We went in the first few days after the park reopened (and several trails/trailheads were still closed) during Covid19. We wished we had gotten to the trailhead earlier - there is a large parking lot and LOTS of people just in and out for pics but we had to circle a couple times to get a spot at a about 10 am on a Saturday - we would get there by 9 next time. The trails were busy but for the most part we could stand aside to pass or let others pass for social distancing until we got to the actual "bunion" where there is relatively small area and most were not caring about staying 6" away from us. Beautiful views and great hike and added benefit of the novelty of hiking part of the AT. Would definitely recommend to those in pretty good shape and with good footwear.

19 days ago

good trail, lots of up hill on the way out makes for an easy trip back to the car. took myself and 2 friends arround 4 hours with hanging out at the bunion for a bit. would recommend bring lunch/a snack to chill and eat at the bunion. beautiful view. worth it

hiking
19 days ago

Great trail and even better views. It was cool and damp at the top. We saw multiple pockets of snow by the shelter. The views were worth the effort.

hiking
20 days ago

We were only able to do 1.5 miles into the hike since we had a 2 year old, but there are beautiful mountain views only 3/4 mile into the hike. Well worth our time and carrying our toddler half the way. We will definitely be coming back without our child next time to do the complete hike.

Great trail for a moderate 5-6 hour hike. We took our time for breaks. The views at the endpoints were great for the area, but there weren’t many great views on the trail. Taking the detour to Jump Off Point was well worth it.

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