The Appalachian Trail is 2,190 miles long, stretching from Maine to Georgia, making it one of the longest hiking-only trails in the world. Every year, thousands chase their dreams of thru-hiking the AT, stopping by Charlie's Bunion to soak up the view on the way.
Start the hike to the Bunion at Newfound Gap on the Tennessee/North Carolina state line. At the beginning of the trail is a marker indicating just 1,940 miles to Maine. Stay on the AT for the entire duration of the hike. The first 2 miles or so of the trail is a steady climb. Each step deeper into the forest brings more solitude. Find wildflowers in the warmer months and views to the right year round along the way.
The Ice Water Spring Shelter is just past the junction with the Boulevard Trail. A permit is needed to stay at the shelter; it is a perfect spot to stay if you're wanting to catch the sunset and sunrise from Charlie's Bunion.
Just past the shelter is a natural spring in the middle of the trail. The water does need to be treated, but it is an ice-cold treat on a summer day. At mile 4, you'll find a marked spur trail to your left. This is the doorway to the infamous Charlie's Bunion, a spot with breathtaking views that is named after Charlie Conner.
One day many years ago Charlie and Horace Kephart sat in the same spot. The bunion on Charlie's foot resembled the rock, and Kephart vowed to have the government place it on a map. The rest is history.
If you're making the journey to Charlie's Bunion during fall and winter months, be prepared for ice and snow. Newfound Gap receives close to 70 inches of snow each year and can be unpredictable. Be prepared.