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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.

2 days ago

Solid hike. Get to Newfound Gap as early as you can to beat the horde!

hiking
2 days ago

Loved this hike! Absolutely beautiful view at the end, and if you look at a map, the Appalachian trail you are on the whole time hugs North Carolina and Tennessee. I would say it is moderately to lightly traveled. There were large patches of the trail where we were alone, especially on the second half of the hike out (as I think a lot quit). The lookout probably had 12 total people. Be careful at the top as there are very steep drop-offs on both sides of the trail. Lastly, this map actually ends where the trail meets another junction of trails. It continues a half-mile beyond the lookout. We hiked it thinking there may be more beyond the lookout, but save yourself that extra half-mile out and back beyond the lookout - - - especially given it's all downhill and you are just adding an unnecessary half-mile to your long uphill return back. Enjoy!!

7 days ago

Really fun hike! We started around 10am and saw a decent amount of people throughout the hike, but not too bad. It can get pretty busy at viewpoint since it isn't a large area, but you can get a nice view if you continue down the path just a short bit. It's been raining quite a bit the last few days so it's pretty muddy and wet throughout the whole trail. But that just makes it more fun!

hiking
muddy
rocky
7 days ago

Great hike to the bunion. Very overcast and rainy. But definitely worth the climb on top of the rock or bunion to look over. On a clear day with clear skies would’ve made the view amazing.

hiking
muddy
off trail
rocky
7 days ago

Make sure to look closely at the map and venture up to the real thing. Very enjoyable hike!

hiking
7 days ago

Great hike! Loved the view from Charlie’s Bunion, we were lucky enough to get there right as the clouds were clearing out, just gorgeous. It was my favorite vista I’ve seen thus far in GSM. Saw a orange and black salamander on the trail too, just added to the fun.

muddy
rocky
9 days ago

June 28, 2020. Raining this morning but sun did finally come out. 70 degrees. We were the only ones on the trail going up. Nice views. Very hilly and rocky. Loved doing the trail though.

muddy
9 days ago

9 days ago

June 28, 2020. We started the hike pre-dawn with rain gear on in a light rain. The first couple of miles were pretty rocky, but nothing too horrible. We didn't encounter a single hiker all the way to Charlie's Bunion and had that site entirely to ourselves. We did pass quite a few hikers on the way back to the parking lot, which was fully packed upon our return. A great day to be in the Smokies!

hiking
muddy
rocky
10 days ago

hiking
muddy
rocky
10 days ago

Great hike! Definitely worth the views!

hiking
11 days ago

Solid trail part of the AT. Parked in the Newfoundland gap parking lot and the trail starts to the left of the restrooms. Not called Charlie’s bunion until halfway through. Mostly uphill climbing on the way to the rock formation. Trail is shaded almost entirely through. Nice views from the bunion that you can scramble onto.

hiking
12 days ago

Awesome trail. Really beautiful view at the top. Fun to hike on the AT.

hiking
muddy
rocky
15 days ago

This is one of my favorite trails in the smokies!! The hike is largely on the Appalachian Trail, and after hours of upward hiking, you’re treated to an incredible view of the mountains. The rock formations were stunning, but unfortunately crowded with hikers who didn’t exactly know how to share the views with others. We weren’t able to climb the formation itself due to this. I strongly encourage anyone hiking here to see it, climb it if you want, take it in and take a photo, and climb back down to allow for others to enjoy. I’ll definitely do back, but will leave much earlier next time so the trail is (hopefully) less crowded.

hiking
rocky
18 days ago

The view is worth it.

hiking
muddy
19 days ago

Awesome! Especially enjoyed the trail from the Ice Water Spring - AT Shelter to Charlies Bunion.

hiking
rocky
19 days ago

Really nice trail. The first 1.5-2 miles was all uphill, but nothing too strenuous. I arrived at Newfound Gap at 6:30am and had Charlie’s Bunion all to myself. The bunion was special, but the journey there was beautiful as well. Stop off at the shelter and enjoy the view from there as well. An overall great hike!

hiking
20 days ago

Fun and beautiful hike. Moderate rating holds true. The view at Charlie’s Bunion is spectacular!

hiking
rocky
22 days ago

Beautiful forested trail almost the whole way until the amazing pay off at Charlie’s Bunion. It’s a rocky trail so bring proper shoes. Make a side stop at ice water shelter just to check it out. Once at the Bunion carefully climb out on the rocks for a spectacular view. We made a side trip out to the Jump Off Point on the way back. You will see the signs on the way out. Definitely worth it if you feel up to it. Amazing panorama of the mountains. There is elevation gain but it is gradual and the moderate rating holds true.

backpacking
rocky
24 days ago

hiking
25 days ago

Great hike. Perfect day with perfect, clear weather. Visibility was amazing. Loved that we had to stop to let a deer cross the path in the first mile. We took 6.5 hours total. Hiked to Charlie’s Bunion and the Jump Off Trail in 4.5-5 hours round trip - spent about 1.5 hours eating a picnic lunch at Bunion, hanging out at the Jump Off (pictures were better here because it was less crowded), and then we met some section hikers on the AT and talked with them for a long time.

Stopping for lunch at the peak and detouring to the jump off it took 5:25, without stops it took 4:09.

hiking
27 days ago

Great hike along the AT. Got to the Bunion at around 8:30am after arriving at Newfound Gap at 7am and had it to myself for awhile which was quite nice before the crowds started to filter in. Unfortunately the views were completely obscured by fog but it was still great to see the bunion nonetheless.

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