Hike Charlies Bunion

8.1 miles 1640 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Tiffany Trent

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.

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🥇Top Contributor

about 4 years ago

Might Be Obsessed With This Hike

I hiked Charlies Bunion for the first time this past weekend and I was totally in love. The climb for the first few miles is delicious (like, great steady incline that gets your heart pumping but doesn't kill you) and the views are phenomenal. I highly suggest combining this with the hike to The Jump Off. It will add an additional mile and some more elevation gain but you'll be able to see Charlies Bunion from above and it provides even more views of the surrounding range. I couldn't recommend this hike more! Be sure to lay up because you'll be warm while hiking but the summits are cold and windy. Also, it's been said already but this hike is really crowded so if you want to avoid the crowds start early or bring a headlamp and come back down in the dark.

Incredible Views

Loved this hike! Definitely go early to beat the crowds, and layer up.

Amazing Views

This is not a hike for the faint of heart but once you step out onto Charlies Bunion all muscle aches and cramps melt away as you gaze out over the valley below in almost a 360 panoramic views

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