Hike to Charlie’s Bunion

We take for granted that we have the Smoky Mountains practically in our backyard, so yesterday we decided to remedy that and take a day hike to Charlie’s Bunion (kooky name, right?)  My favorite quote of the day came from Matt, who said, “Hey, at least it’s not Charlie’s Corn!”

We wanted to beat any traffic, so we got an early start.  After a breakfast of coffee, eggs, and bagels, we were ready to go!

Here’s an outline of the trail, which literally traces the spine of Mt. Kephart.  It’s an 8-mile round trip with a net elevation gain of 2,508ft.  In other words, we knew we’d be getting our workout in for the day!

At the Newfoundland Gap parking area, which connects to the trailhead.

My hubby.  We underestimated how much cooler it would be in the mountains, and when we arrived our car was registering an outside temp of 48 degrees!  The sun was shining and we knew we’d work up a sweat soon enough, but the sweatshirts we brought along were a big help.

The view from the parking lot wasn’t too shabby.

Let’s go!

Not gonna lie, the first mile and a half of the trail is brutal.  It’s a steep, steady climb, and though the trail starts off all nice and manicured, you quickly find yourself scrambling over rocks and tree roots.  It’s not an easy walk, but definitely a lot of fun!

Once you hit the top, you’re rewarded with a much easier stretch of level ground before you hit the next climb.

Lots of wildflowers in bloom this time of year!

The trails are well-marked and easy to follow.

More bloomins’

Between miles 2 and 3, you’re rewarded with your first stunning view.

At mile 3 you can branch off and take a peek at the Icewater Spring Shelter, which many A-T’ers use as a place to sleep on their long trek.

We took a break here for a few minutes to grab some water and rest our feet!

Another stunning drop-off.

Almost there!

My handsome hubby.

Finally, we arrived at the bunion, and saw that we weren’t the only ones to take advantage of the amazing weather!

We grabbed an empty spot and sat down for lunch!

Not a bad place for a sammich.


Yeah, my heart was beating just a little faster watching Matt scramble out onto the farthest rock.

I stuck to the closer cluster of rocks.  I can barely walk without tripping over my own two feet, so testing my balance with a thousand foot drop just inches away didn’t seem like a wise thing to do.

Charlie’s Bunion?  Yeah.. I’m sure I’ll have a bunion after this trek!

Gotta love him.

“Hey honey.. strike a pose!”

It was a perfect Spring day to take advantage of the beautiful part of the country that we live in.  We’ll definitely be doing more of these in the future!


  1. Kara says

    The last time we tried to do Charlie’s Bunion was when we got that random snow and ice last spring. They had closed Newfound Gap Road, so we couldn’t get up to the trail. Can you imagine doing that hike in the snow?
    Well, needless to say, we were prepared for that and ended up “hiking” up to Laurel falls – if you’ve never done it, it’s a paved trail. We looked silly in all of our snow gear. Oh well.
    Looks like a great day for a hike! We need to get back into it again – been too long.

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