Located in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Charlie’s Bunion is a challenging, awesome hike on the Appalachian Trail with spectacular views. The 4.5 miles up to the top is a long, steady climb but is not too strenuous. Since the trail is uphill, it leaves many of the tourists and crowds behind, so you’ll have most of the trail to yourself. The trail is easy to follow the whole way up. Throughout the hike, you’ll be at elevations around 6,000 feet. You can really tell you’re gaining elevation. At 2.7 miles, the Boulevard Trail forks off to the left. Keep straight to continue to Charlies Bunion. Once you get there, if you like scrambling rocks, there are a couple good ones to climb onto. They make for epic pictures, but make sure you don’t do anything too crazy, because if you did it would be a long fall.
If you decide to take on Charlie’s Bunion, make sure you bring layers, lots of water and snacks!! If you are anything like me, you will get hungry and want to eat on the way up and down. Also, make sure you leave with plenty of daylight to walk back down, unless you are cool with hiking in the dark. In that case, bring a headlamp. The hike up could take as long as two hours depending how fast you are walking so it can take up a big chunk of your day.
Length: 8.1 roundtrip, total elevation gain 1640 feet
Pros: Sweet panoramic views
Cons: Uphill, watch your footing…steep drop offs!
Trailhead: Appalachian Trail at Newfound Gap
Directions: From Cherokee, drive 20 miles north to reach the Newfound Gap parking lot.