Charlies Bunion
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Difficulty
hike difficulty
15.5
Length
hike difficulty
7.8
Duration 4 hours
Elevation Gain 1900 ft.
State Tennessee
Park/Forest Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Parking Fee None
Blaze White
Nearby City Gatlinburg, TN
Trailhead Coord. 35.611037, -83.42494

Following along both the Appalachian Trail as well as the Tennessee and North Carolina State line, Charlies Bunion provides one of the best views in the Smokies while offering a moderate challenge for hikers. Even for those just driving through; stop off at the trailhead at Newfound Gap Overlook for incredible views without the sweat.



This hike begins at the Newfound Gap Overlook. This large parking lot can accommodate well over a hundred cars; however, on weekends can still fill up fast. The expansive view from the overlook will tell you why this area is popular. On the north side of the parking lot are restrooms and the Appalachian Trail crossing. Although there may be a lot of people at the overlook, as you travel down the AT, the crowds will quickly vanish. This is still one of the most popular hikes, so don’t expect to be alone. As with all trails in the Smokies, dogs are not allowed.



Begin northbound on the AT heading east. The trail gets right to the point, gaining 800 feet over the first 1.5 miles. Along the way there are several stone and wooden flights of steps and large rocks to climb over and around. Every once and a while there will be a break in the trees, giving you excellent views to the southeast of the North Carolina mountains and US-441/Newfound Gap Road weaving its way through the terrain. Arrive at the junction with the Sweat Heifer Creek Trail at mile 1.6. A sign is clearly marks the way. Continue straight along the Appalachian Trail.



At mile 2.6, the AT comes to the junction with the Boulevard Trail. Taking this trail will lead you up to Mt. LeConte. If you take the Boulevard Trail a couple hundred feet it will lead to the short Jump Off Trail, with excellent views there as well. This optional secondary view will add .9 miles roundtrip to this hike. The Jump Off also makes a popular destination hike in of itself. Just after this, another sign indicates the side trails for the Icewater Spring Shelter. Stop for a minute and enjoy the view from here.



Continuing on, the trail descends steeply, at a rate of 700 feet/mile for the next half mile. This section is littered with lose rocks. The last half mile before reaching Charlies Bunion is more scenic than the previous trail. Staying mostly on the ridgeline, the trail opens up on both sides to provide at taste of what is about to come. A sign indicates the short side trail to Charlies Bunion from the AT. Walk along the cliff edge to the large rock outcropping that provides 2700 views. Mt. LeConte is clearly visible as the high point to the left and parts of Gatlinburg can be seen in good weather straight ahead. Don’t expect to have the Bunion to yourself unless you go during the week, a small crowd be a constant during the weekends.

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  • Views from Charlies Bunion
TERRAIN MAP
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ELEVATION PROFILE
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GETTING THERE
Trailhead Coordinates
35.611037, -83.42494 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°36.66, W 83°25.5 (Degree Minutes, MinDec)
N 35°36'40'', W 83°25'30'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)

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ADDITIONAL INFO

Ranger District Information
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
(865) 436-1200



Cautions & Warnings
The terrain is very rocky, so watch where you step.
The section around and including Charlies Bunion has very steep drop offs. Pay attention to children.



Other Information
Visit the official park site:
http://www.nps.gov/grsm/index.htm