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.

hiking
1 day ago

we did this and branched off to include the jump off and everthing totalled out to 4hrs 23min and 8.8 miles. i think it was a total of 3.9 miles uphill. i slept good that night!
i usually start early (6am) but since the sun is coming up later we started at 9am. it still wasnt crowded and having the sun directly overhead at the bunion really helped with some good pictures

The view from Charlie’s Bunion is amazing. When we hiked up it was cloudy foggy and cold on the way up. Once we cleared the tree line the clouds started to lift and clear. When we got to Charlie’s Bunion it was clear and the view was amazing. Well worth the hike up the hill. Recommend you hit the trail early to avoid the crowds. Hardly anyone on the trail on the way up however on the way down there was literally 50 to 100 plus groups on the way up.

hiking
3 days ago

Really good hike. Went in about 10 am. Wasn’t too busy. Came out about 2pm and it was very busy. Get there early.

4 days ago

nice hike, a few views on the way up. we started early in morning in heavy fog. it opened up by the time we reached the bunion. the forest was great in the fog, lots of good pics. if it's a clear day do the jump off for a added bonus.

hiking
5 days ago

The view would have been amazing if it wasn’t cloudy!! Overall a good hike. Mostly through woods but there are a few spots along this 4 mile hike with very nice views. Be careful at the bunions, they are literally a straight drop down on both sides.

7 days ago

The view at Charlie Bunion is just amazing!! Worth a shot. Make sure you carry enough water cause it's not an easy hike.

hiking
8 days ago

Great hike! Beautiful view!

11 days ago

Loved the trail. Had a lot of fun.

17 days ago

We caught a beautiful sunrise at Newfound Gap then continued onto the AT, this trail is no joke folks. Lots of steps, big rocks and uphill travel. Some nice views along the way but nothing that keeps you anticipating the next turn. We did the jump off first (turn left onto the boulevard). Again, very hard trail and not well maintained in areas but absolutely beautiful views, we sat on top and ate our lunch. Then back down and headed towards Charles Bunion. At this point the beautiful day had turned foggy in a matter of seconds and it started to rain, we stopped at the Icewater Spring Shelter and waited it out along with some others. The sun came back out and off we went to the Bunion. The hike up wasn’t to bad but once at the top, we couldn’t see anything. It was so foggy. Still a great experience. There were two girls who sat on top of the rock and hogged it the entire time, others tried to navigate up but between them
And their packs it was impossible! Please don’t be like these two girls and hog the rock, others would like to see it and have photo opportunities also. Anyway..we waited it out while talking with some very nice hikers doing the same...but the fog never lifted. We decided to head back down the trail. We did a total of around 13 miles and our knees and feet were feeling it by the end. We took lots of water, snacks and a lunch. Make sure to take your rain gear also. The day started beautiful for us, but rained hard several times on the trail making for very slick conditions and what would’ve been cold and miserable with the gear. Once down to Newfound Gap it was sunny and beautiful. It took us 9.52 hours but we are never in a hurry (we stop and smell the roses so to speak) and enjoy each moment.

22 days ago

Absolutely beautiful

hiking
28 days ago

Great hike up through the forest with rewarding views at the top! There were a few steep uphills, but they didn’t seem to last long. After about 2 miles, the rest of the way up was gradual. Hiking poles would help navigate some of the rocks and roots encountered along the way. Start early to avoid the crowds.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike! Me and my wife starting hiking the trail around 8 am. the forest was foggy and everything was beautiful. Only thing is there was a couple there that hogged Charles bunion most of the time. other than that, beautiful hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Enjoyable trail. Mostly covered mossy forest a good bit of the way. Charlies Bunion is a very cool spot. Definitely watch your footing and your kids!

hiking
1 month ago

It’s awesome to explore a section of the AT! Most of the hike is covered, as mentioned before, but once you get to the bunion the views are phenomenal! I have never seen more butterflies in one place in my life. It was so lush and green during this time of year (September). There is a good alternation between incline and decline along the trail. However, there are a lot of big steps to take which makes going down hill pretty rough on your feet and shins (I can see why so many people use hiking sticks). The trail is over all well maintained but is covered with lots of little loose rocks and big rocks to step over along with exposed tree roots. It is nothing that would stop me from doing this trail again but is something that made it more difficult in my opinion!

hiking
1 month ago

It's a steady uphill climb for the first couple miles and then two more miles to Charlies Bunion. Along the way is the Ice Water Shelter where I encountered a doe and two fawn. There were 10-15 other hikers at Charlie's Bunion. The views are incredible and well worth the 4 mile hike from the parking lot. Backtrack to Boulevard Trail and turn toward Lecont for only a short distance and then turn right up another marked trail to the The Jump Off. I was alone at The Jump Off for a half hour and the 1,000 foot vertical drop was breathtaking. The pull of gravity at the edge was surreal, and the view and solitude at The Jump Off made it the highlight of my hike.

1 month ago

Great View!

1 month ago

My favorite day hike.. wonderful ascent for 1.3 Miles.. then a pleasant walk to a great shelter for lunch at the 3 mile mark. Another 1 mile down to Charlie bunions for a great view. Note: watch the kids at the edge of this viewing! Climb up out of Charlie bunions is really only steep for the last .5... then an extraordinarily pleasant walk down!!!

1 month ago

Very nice hike and we were lucky to do it on a beautiful day. Went early to avoid the crowd but after first mile not near as many around.

hiking
1 month ago

This was a great hike! The first 2-2.5 Miles was a steady uphill but wasn’t anything super strenuous if you’ve hiked before. The views were amazing once at the overlook, but it is a very small place and I can’t imagine when it’s super crowded. Go early in the morning and you’ll be fine. Also- do your research and be prepared- I saw and talked to several people going in inappropriate footwear, with no water or food and some had no idea how long the hike was and seemed surprise when I told them and they said “oh I don’t think we can make that.” Dont put yourself or others in harms way- just be prepared!

hiking
2 months ago

amazing trail! We got caught in two thunderstorms but it really made the whole temperature rain forest vibe.

backpacking
2 months 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
2 months 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. First 2 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
2 months 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 months ago

Fantastic hike, amazing views

hiking
2 months 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.

2 months ago

Amazing views! Absolutely breathtaking.

hiking
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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

2 months 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!

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