This scenic hike from the Newfound Gap parking lot in Great Smoky Mountains NP offers spectacular views, a chance to jump on the Appalachian Trail, and free parking. The highest elevation is 6122'. 

From the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, drive approximately 13 miles south on Newfound Gap Road to reach the Newfound Gap Parking Area (it'll be on your left.) The parking area is free and there are bathrooms. Follow the Appalachian Trail towards Katahdin, Maine (1972 miles away, woah!) At this point, there will not be a sign for Charlies Bunion, don't worry, it's up there!

The trail typically starts with the crowd, who are just happy to be there stepping foot on the Appalachian Trail. The steady climb in elevation over the course of the first 2 miles leaves the majority of the crowd behind. After the first 2 miles, the trail evens out as you've gain the majority of your elevation. Go you!

When the trail splits (1.7 miles in) continue on towards the Icewater Spring Shelter, named after the nearby spring that flows from a pipe onto the trail (water needs to be treated before drinking.) Once you've reached the shelter you'll see the first sign for Charlies Bunion! This is the perfect time for a break, grab a snack & some water, take in the views and take advantage of the toilet area (biodegradable baby wipes are a good bonus to throw in the daypack.)

Once you leave the shelter, continue North on the Appalachian Trail towards Charlies Bunion, you're almost there! Just over a mile to go and mostly downhill! There are many beautiful views in all directions, as you get closer to your destination you'll know, the trail gives you a sneak peak and will send you happily power walking to finish your 4 mile trek to this wonder! There will be a sign that you've arrived, the Appalachian Trail continues on to Maine to the right of the sign and you'll be taking a slight left at the sign to be rewarded with an incredible view!

Charlies Bunion, a beautiful rock outcropping in the Smoky Mountains and one of my favorite hikes to date. If you've googled the trail, you've seen that it is defined as strenuous. I found the trail itself to require more endurance because of the distance and i didn't find it to be as strenuous as it has been classified to be. With that said, I believe this is a trail for all ages to enjoy. At the bunion, there are extremely steep drop-offs, watch your footing and closely control children (as the sign will remind you.) 8.1 miles is a long walk in the park, that is the toughest part but it is well worth it, believe me.

Pack List

  • Daypack
  • Water & healthy snacks
  • Camera, you'll want to capture this beautiful view
  • First aid kit
  • It's the Appalachian Trail, maybe throw in a few extra protein bars in case you run into a thru hiker, they'll really appreciate the gift :)
  • Lightweight jacket (high elevations get chilly)
  • All of your energy
Show More
RT Distance 8.1 Miles
Elevation Gain 1640 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Best Hike in the Smoky Mountains

I never realized the Smokey Mountains had steep ledges and rocky cliffs until this hike. The view does not only open outwards, but downwards into the surrounding valleys. This turned out to be one of my favorite hikes in Tennessee. The first two miles upwards is rough, but completely worth it. Also, check out the Jump-Off while you are out there. Only adds a mile and gives you an excellent view of Charlie's Bunion.

For more views, visit "The Jump Off"

This will add less than a mile to your trek but the views are almost better than those from Charlies Bunion. Look for the sign to "The Jump Off" about 3 miles into this hike (or check it out on the way back from Charlie's Bunion).

This Hike

So so amazing, definitely worth the trek up!

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