Bookmark and Share

Hiking Great Smoky Mountains covers 82 hikes in the Smokies, Includes photos, trail maps, quick reference trail highlights and elevation profiles.

Charlies Bunion

Trail Features: Panoramic Views charlies-bunion
Trail Location: Newfound Gap
Roundtrip Length: 8.1 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1640 Feet
Avg. Elev Gain / Mile: 405 Feet
Highest Elevation: 6122 Feet
Trail Difficulty Rating: 11.38 (strenuous)
Parking Lot Latitude 35.61084
Parking Lot Longitude -83.42509

Directions to Trailhead:

From the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, drive 13 miles south on Newfound Gap Road to reach the Newfound Gap parking lot. You'll be hiking eastbound on the Appalachian Trail to reach Charlies Bunion. 

From Cherokee, drive 20.2 miles north to reach the Newfound Gap parking lot.

Trail Description:

The hike to Charlies Bunion, via the Appalachian Trail, begins from the Newfound Gap parking area. The steady climb over the course of the first two miles of this hike will quickly leave the crowds at Newfound Gap behind. For your effort during this portion of the hike you'll be rewarded early and often. Take a short break at roughly two-thirds of a mile to enjoy some grand views of the North Carolina Smokies to the south. Also, make sure to keep an eye out for the wide variety of wildflowers that bloom at these elevations during the spring and early summer.


Just before reaching the Sweat Heifer Creek Trail junction, roughly 1.7 miles from the trailhead, be sure to take in the outstanding views of Mount LeConte and Myrtle Point towards the northwest.

Throughout several portions of the hike you'll be traveling at elevations of around 6000 feet. Being at the highest point along this narrow ridge, with stunning views on either side of the trail, you'll feel like you're walking on the spine of the Appalachian Mountains.

appalachian-trail-viewAt just over 2.7 miles the Boulevard Trail to Mount LeConte forks off to the left. Continue going straight here to reach Charlies Bunion.

A quarter-of-a-mile further down the trail you'll pass the Icewater Spring shelter, named after the nearby spring flowing from a pipe and onto the Appalachian Trail. If thirsty, you'll need to treat this water first before drinking it.

Roughly 4 miles from the trailhead a short spur trail will fork off to the left and lead you to your destination.

Charlies Bunion is a rock outcropping that was originally known as Fodderstack. The current name was derived when Charlie Conner went hiking one day with Horace Kephart, one of the early proponents for a national park in the Smokies, and author of Our Southern Highlanders. When they paused for a rest on the rocks, Conner took his socks and boots off and exposed a bunion that resembled the surrounding rocks. Looking at Conner's feet, Kephart remarked, "Charlie, I'm going to get this place put on a government map for you." And so he did.


Charlies Bunion offers spectacular views of the mountains to the north, Mt. Kephart and the Jump Off to the west, and Mount Guyot towards the east. Due to the extremely steep drop-offs you'll definitely want to watch you're footing around here.

If you still have the energy on your return trip, take the relatively short side trail, near the Boulevard Trail junction, to visit the Jump Off. The stunning views from this rock outcropping are well worth the additional one-mile roundtrip.