Charlies Bunion via Appalachian Trail

MODERATE 431 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

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

bird watching

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

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.

1 day ago

Great Hike, the sun came out for about 3 minutes so awesome views at the bunion. Lots of ice so that spikes for hike.

7 days ago

awesome

hiking
blowdown
muddy
rocky
8 days ago

We hiked this on 2/9/19. It was an absolutely beautiful hike and thoroughly enjoyed it. Started at Newfound Gap and hiked to the Icewater Spring AT shelter. This hike took about 4 hrs but we stopped to enjoy views and chat with other hikers along the way. 6 miles round trip. There was ice on the trial in sections and it was also quite rocky so I highly recommend firm soled shoes and trekking poles would help with rocky areas. With that being said we did see a couple young people in sandals at the top that had zero gear or water and were in gym shorts and tank tops (ah to be young:). The moderate difficulty rating is accurate. There were a lot of people hiking it and once we arrived at the AT shelter it seemed as though someone insta-tweeted a message to converge on the shelter at that exact time so about 15 people came in before we could even get our packs off. There is water available near the shelter (bring a filter) as well as a toilet area. This will be a hike to do again for sure. It would get 5 stars but due to the amount of people I gave it 4.

hiking
22 days ago

Great hike and especially in the winter. Bring traction! Beautiful hike.

hiking
27 days ago

Beautiful views! And a bit of a workout but worth it!

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful views. A perfect hike for a beginner to moderate biker. A good workout!

hiking
1 month ago

Leg smoker, lots of rocks on the trail, so wear good boots! The view from the top is incredible. This is a popular hike so once you make it to the end, there are quite a few people climbing on the rocks for photo ops.

hiking
1 month ago

My friend Chris is a professional hiker and trail runner. We recently did this trail together and he absolutely smashed every Strava KOM on the map. Truly a freak of nature as we tried to keep up with his record blazing pace. The hike was OK but his performance was incredible definitely would give it a 12 out of 10.

1 month ago

The views were great from Charlie’s Bunion as it was a cloudless day. Still it was a bit disheartening to see the brown pall of smog in the Tennessee valley. Absent the smog, one could see forever, well almost. There was a lot of snow and ice on the trail. Depths ranged from 6 to 18 inches. The snow was no problem except where hard packed in places by hikers. There was also considerable ice, particularly on the frequent natural or man made steps. My wife’s bad knees combined with the ice made the return trip a bit hazardous. Because temps were above freezing at New Found Gap there was a lot of muddy slush the last 1/4 mile or so to the parking lot. But, we made the 8-mile round-trip without incident, albeit slowly. This is a great hike with excellent views into both NC and TN. There is no way this is a “hard” hike. It is moderate at the most, as the elevation change is minimal given the 5000 foot starting point. Snow cleats would help right now, and hiking poles are recommended. Our hike was 12/26/18.

hiking
1 month ago

Absolutely breathtaking at the top! The air and atmosphere at the Bunion itself is pure and blissful. Our trip was a little precarious due to icy paths in Mid-December, but it is well worth the trip! Not to be missed!

hiking
2 months ago

September 2017- such a pretty hike on the NC/TN spine. The overlook was very cool. Would highly recommend this one at the park. Took us about 4 hours.

2 months ago

Tough trail, quiet a bit of an incline and very rocky. However, totally worth the view!

hiking
3 months ago

The day was fogged in, so unfortunately we didn’t get any of the awesome vistas. But we could imagine them. We did however still have a great hike. The leaves are gone at the upper elevations now but there is color (every shade of green) in the moss, ferns, and undergrowth. Still quite amazing. I’d rate the trail as moderate, and found it a nice leisure hike. We stopped at the shelter for a bite to eat and were greeted by a die and two fawns grazing in the reeds in front of us. That was our ‘10’, along with the shades of green undergrowth. We decided to head back from there since there was no expected view from Charlie’s Bunyan ; we’ll be back on a clear day. I rated 5 stars as I didn’t want to down rate it for the weather. This has all the makings of an awesome trail.

hiking
3 months ago

One of the first hikes I did of the weekend! It was definitely a challenge and pretty long but well worth the hike up! Weather was beautiful, part of the mountains were frosted off from the sun not hitting them just yet. The views are to die for! Keep your speed steady.

hiking
3 months ago

Really worth it when you see the view! Kids might think this is “moderate” but this old dude w bad knees and a pacemaker says it is most definitely worthy of a “hard” rating! But a great hike!

hiking
3 months ago

Location
The trailhead starts in the Newfound Gap Overlook parking lot. It's on the left side right next to the bathrooms! It is labeled Appalachian Trail. Nothing about Charlie's Bunion is listed.
About 1.5 miles in there is a spit in the trail. Go left!
Still no mention of Charlie's Bunion haha.

Splits in the trail
Whenever there is a split in the trail choose the Appalachian Trail side. I believe the next split is at mile 3 or so. Choose to go right there.


Views
On your way to the Bunion you have lots of views and even a chance to check out a shelter. Be mindful of thru hikers who may be using that as a resting spot.


The Bunion is better than any picture so hike it yourself! We even did a shoot off to the Jump Off and wow!!!

Moderate is right
We were exhausted from the constant climb up to the Bunion and are legs were sore Dr the long walk back down (burning calves). Moderate is an accurate listing for this trail. Not super technical, but definitely a work out.

Time it right
We got on the trail around 7:30 and had it mostly to ourselves. We passed at least 50 hikers on our way down though, so get there early!

Conditions
It is wet/icy and VERY windy!

hiking
3 months ago

A lot of incline but the views were incredible. We started around 12pm and there was a little bit of ice on the trail but overall a great hike.

hiking
3 months ago

3 months ago

Fantastic

hiking
3 months ago

This is such a fun trail! I started off at 8:30am on a weekday, went up seeing only maybe 3 or 4 other people, and had the Bunion to myself for a good 20 minutes. The view is absolutely stunning! On the way back, I turned on to Boulevard Trail to go to The Jumpoff. The fall colors were brighter than anywhere else, and the view was definitely worth it. My GPS clocked it as 9.5 miles (and 2500 calories burned, so bring snacks to keep up your energy!)
I wear trailrunning shoes, and found most of the trail pretty easy to navigate. Definitely wear appropriate shoes; running shoes are not gonna be a good idea. By the time I got back to Newfound Gap, it was busy with lots of people heading up.

hiking
3 months ago

This was a great hike. The ending was epic! So glad we did it!

hiking
3 months ago

Awesome hike! But very busy, we had to pass and stop for people coming the other way quite often. The scenery was beautiful and the view at the end was worth it. The trail was rocky with lots of roots so you have to watch your footing!

3 months ago

Great hike! Very rocky and uneven in parts but the view is worth it. We also hiked to the Jump Off and it was just as beautiful! Great hike all around!

hiking
3 months 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

hiking
3 months ago

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 months 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 months 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
4 months 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.

4 months 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.

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