Charlies Bunion via Appalachian Trail

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

based on 14 reviews



4.32 miles

Elevation Gain

1640 ft

Route Type



Added by Tiffany Trent

This scenic hike from the Newfound Gap parking lot in the 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 a crowd of people 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 gained 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 is 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, but I didn't find it to be as strenuous as it had been classified as. 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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Charlies Bunion via Appalachian Trail Reviews

I did the AT from newfounds gap and hiked to Charlie Bunyon. Most beautiful view! I howled as soon as I climbed the rock and you could hear the echo for miles lol. It was quite a hike, I wouldn't say it's good for children at all. Maybe for teens if they are active but certainly not any younger. Theres other ways to get there if you have children that you can do. The peace and quiet, birds chirping, bears foraging and I saw some wild boar which was awesome, it makes you realize what your missing out of life. I highly recommended doing this section if your the kind of person who loves to be out in the wild and loves to feel that beautiful energy.

Several said this is now their favorite hike - and I'll have to echo that. It was a great hike - with challenging areas. It pays to be prepared. There was still ice on the trail, some black ice as well. It began to melt on our way back down and that made for it to be mudding in a number of spots. We got a tip to go .2 of a mile past the Charlie's Bunion sign. Look to the right there and the view is fabulous, then to the left is a shale trail up to another private Charlie's Bunion! I'm sorry we didn't read this blog first with the comments about going a bit father to Jump Off. This trail was so worth it - I hope to bring my daughter back one day! About the biodegradable wipes - I bring several wipes, each in a baggie, when done, just put it back in the bag, seal it up and pack it out....

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.

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).

So so amazing, definitely worth the trek up!

Amazing section of the AT but get there early to avoid crowds

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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