Appalachian Trail

Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee

Distance68.5mi
Elevation Gain12,893ft
Trailhead Elevation1,470ft
Top4,361ft
Elevation Min/Max1470/4361ft
Elevation Start/End1470/1470ft

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail is a hiking and horse trail in North Carolina and Tennessee. It is within Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee National Forest. It is 68.5 miles long and begins at 1,470 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 27.5 miles with a total elevation gain of 12,893 feet. Mt. Buckley, Little Chestnut Bald (elevation 4,905 feet), Mount Collins, Thunderhead Mountain, Snowbird Mountain (elevation 4,249 feet), Sunup Knob, Snowbird Mountain (elevation 4,255 feet), Mount Ambler, Wildcat Top (elevation 4,213 feet), Cold Spring Knob, Masa Knob, Jenkins Knob, Silers Bald, Mount Love, Big Chestnut Bald, Brier Knob, Ross Knob, Mount Sequoyah (elevation 5,968 feet), Hemlock Knob, Laurel Top (elevation 5,899 feet), Inadu Knob, The Sawteeth, Laurel Top, Clingmans Dome, Camel Hump Knob, and Rocky Top, the Yellow Creek Gap, Beechnut Gap, The Narrows, Double Spring Gap, Davenport Gap, Buckeye Gap, Indian Gap, Coppers Gap, Davenport Gap, False Gap, Porters Gap, Collins Gap, Newfound Gap, Mineral Gap, Starkey Gap, Sugartree Gap, and Deer Creek Gap saddles, Newfound Gap Overlook and another viewpoint, the Cosby Knob Shelter (elevation 4,744 feet), Davenport Gap Shelter (elevation 2,566 feet), Derrick Knob Shelter (elevation 4,751 feet), Double Spring Gap Shelter (elevation 5,509 feet), Icewater Spring Shelter (elevation 5,919 feet), and Silers Bald Shelter (elevation 5,453 feet) camp sites, and the Eagle Rocks (elevation 5,781 feet) cliff can be seen along the trail. There are also parkings and restrooms along the trail. This trail connects with the following: Jenkins Ridge Trail, Dry Sluice Gap Trail, Sweat Heifer Creek Trail, Road Prong Trail, Sugarland Mountain Trail, Welch Ridge Trail, Clingmans Dome Lookout Tower Access, Greenbrier Ridge Trail, Fork Ridge Trail, Boulevard Trail, Clingmans Dome Bypass Trail, Goshen Prong Trail, Miry Ridge Trail, Hughes Ridge Trail, Snake Den Ridge Trail, Chestnut Branch Trail, Balsam Mountain Trail, Mount Cammerer Trail, Camel Gap Trail and Davenport Gap Shelter Access.

Appalachian Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Sections of this hike are covered in other hikes in this guidebook and there is no shortage of literature about the Appalachian Trail (AT). The intent here is simply to provide
a concise outline of key points and alert you to any potential concerns along the way.

A good time to make this trip is in October or November, when the crowds have thinned. In October there will be crowds from Newfound Gap to Charlies Bunion, but most of the “leaf peepers” don’t get far from their cars. In autumn you also avoid the heat of summer, which is good on a hike that has no streams to dip into. However, you have to prepare for cold weather. Snow is common in November, and you should come prepared for it in October. Obviously, for this hike you want to remain on the AT at all trail junctions, so this isn’t necessarily specified in the directions."

"This walk on the storied Georgia- to- Maine footpath rises from Newfound Gap to fabulous views at craggy Charlies Bunion, and on a side trip to the Jumpoff.

Newfound Gap may be a truly popular place to start a hike, but this trailhead is also the best way to reach a few of the Smokies’ most spectacular viewpoints. From the memorial to the Rockefeller Foundation, whose funds helped found the park (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the park here in 1940), day hikes reach two awesome views: the Jumpoff and Charlies Bunion."

"Sections of this hike are covered in other hikes in this guidebook and there is no shortage of literature about the Appalachian Trail (AT). The intent here is simply to provide
a concise outline of key points and alert you to any potential concerns along the way.A good time to make this trip is in October or November, when the crowds have thinned. In October there will be crowds from Clingmans Dome to Silers Bald and
in the Spence Field area, but most of the “leaf peepers” don’t get far from their cars.

In autumn you also avoid the heat of summer, which is good on a hike that has no streams to dip into. However, you have to prepare for cold weather. Snow is common in November, and you should come prepared for it in October. Obviously, for this hike, you want to remain on the AT at all trail junctions, so this isn’t necessarily specified in the directions."

"This heavily traveled trail runs from the easily accessible Newfound Gap, in the middle of the park, to Charlie’s Bunion, through a section of unique, jagged Anakeesta formation that contrasts sharply with the geology of the surrounding area and provides spectacular views throughout the hike. The AT crosses at Newfound Gap on US 441. This section of the AT was built with picks and shovels in 1932, in one month’s time.

The trail passes first through a mixed pine and hardwood forest, and is wide and hard-packed from heavy travel. As you
make your way, you can see Mount LeConte through the trees before you reach the first ridgetop and the junction with the Sweat Heifer Trail, which connects with the Kephart Prong Trail."

Appalachian Trail Reviews

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2/15/2009
My wife and I chose this as our first hike with our children. It provided great accessability but with that came a lot of company. Even though it was only 40 degrees and the middle of February the parking lot was nearly full when we got there. Most of the people just stay in the viewing areas but some venture up the trail a ways. As the guide says they tend to turn back after about half a mile. Our boys age 5 and 8 had no problems with this portion of the trail with only a light load of water and a rain layer with some snacks. We went about 2 miles out and then turned back. But there are great views and awesome topography all along the trail
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7/2/2008
Hiked this with my wife & our two daughters (12&15). It was awesome, a bit challenging for our daughters but they did great for their 1st real hike! Missed a bear literally by a couple of minutes. A young couple who had just passed us spotted it only 25' from the trail about a mile in. It was long gone when we got there. :*( There's a peacock hanging around the shelter now. He was quite bold and unafraid walking right up to us in and around the shelter, looking for crumbs I suppose. We made it up to Jumpoff (quite a strenuous half mile each way but well worth it for its spectacular view of Charlie's Bunion) & headed back as it was getting late. I'll definitely be back to make the extra mile to Charlie's Bunion next time!
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4/17/2007
This hike yields one of the best views anywhere. I did this hike the day after a freak April storm on the east coast, and there were a lot of downed trees and snow-pack that slowed down the progress. Quite an adventure, but a beatiful day with incredible views. When you step out on the 'Bunion' (carefully!) it's as if you're stepping into a pulpit with the entire valley as a perfectly framed sanctuary. If there's a better view in the Smokies, I'd be very surprised. (a side note: one of the reviews mentions this may be longer than 4 miles in... I wouldn't doubt that. I know my pace fairly well and was surprised at the length of time it was taking me to make the trip. Can someone confirm?).
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10/18/2004
Great views and an easy hike. Watch the weather in the winter, it can change in a moment. The first time my wife and I tried to hike this section (in February) we had to turn back when a winter storm came in.
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3/2/2004
The trail was easy to travel in the first 1/2 mile, but was icy and treacherous for the next mile. We had to turn around at that point because we were falling frequently. Our party included people in not the best of condition (early 40's) or pretty young (11 to 13 yrs) though. We met several in there early 20's that were travelling without major problems.
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4/18/2003
This is a spectacular trail - but make sure you attempt it on a very sunny day. Check the weather conditions with Sugarlands Ranger station before attempting this hike, otherwise, you won't actually "see" anything once you get up there. Very frequently, the whole area is shrouded in fog and it's virtually impossible to see anything. The views are simply marvelous on a gorgeous day. If you take the side trail (which is the Boulevard Trail)to the Jumpoff, be forewarned, the Jumpoff trail is not well marked off of the Boulevard Trail, and is an old creekbed on your right. It's only about 150 yds in on your right. When we finally got to Charlie's Bunion, a man with a GPS told us that he actually measured the hike from New Found Gap to Charlie's Bunion at a little over 5 miles...even though all the guide books and the trail sign say 4.0 miles to Charlie's Bunion...for whatever that's worth anyway. Around 2.9 miles you come upon Ice Water Springs Shelter, which was very neat, and you run into a lot of people who are hiking the AT or coming back from Mt. Leconte. I think I would rate this trail as Moderate. It's not that you gain a tremendous amount of elevation on the hike itself, it's that you start rather high to begin with and the oxygen is a bit thinner at this altitude. It's absolutely gorgeous though with some of the best views of the Smoky's anywhere. This is not a trail for a stroller. I'm not sure about a hiking back pack for small children - maybe for an experienced, in-shape hiker. Charlie's Bunion itself is very steep, and drops down on all sides. I would not recommend taking small children out on that area. It would be very dangerous.
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5/31/2002
This was one of the most wonderful hikes my family and I have ever been on. Me, My husband, and our 10 year old son went in May 2002. The weather was great and the views were amazing. I would say there are some more difficult portion to this hike but it''s worth it all. There was an overnight shelter along the way that we stopped at to take a quick break and signed in the log book. When we reached Charlie''s Bunion we couldn''t help but stop and take notice of the amazing views of this outcroping. I highly recomment this hike!! It is one of my most favorite in the park.
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6/3/2001
I started from Newfound Gap before dawn on a cold winter morning. The first mile or so provided enough climbing to convince me to remove my coat, and shortly thereafter, my overshirt as well. I made Icewater Springs Shelter before morning break and stopped for a short sprawl in the grass in fron of the shelter. Besides the usual complement of kids from town getting drunk, there were another nine or so people there who were all planning on going to Peck's Corner for the night, so I quickly moved on to stay ahead of them. Not long after that I came to the blue blaze for Charlie's Bunion and took a detour to follow it out onto the spur. The "trail" rapidly becomes something a goat would be fond of, but the view is spectacular. Please obey the signs and refrain from climbing on the rocks for a better view. If you are up to pressing on there is a great viw of North Carolina a mile farther on from the side of a rock bluff and then shortly thereafter from Eagle Rocks.
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Appalachian Trail Photos

Trail Information

Cherokee National Forest
Nearby City
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Parks
Easy
Skill Level
Hiking
Additional Use
Views
Features
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Local Contacts
Clingmans Dome, Mount LeConte, Mount Guyot, Luftee Knob, Hartford, and Waterville USGS quads; Trails Illustrated #229 Great Smoky Mountains; Trails Illustrated #317 Clingmans Dome Cataloochee
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Aug 2018