Charlies Bunion (Moderate)
Nuts & Bolts: Head east from the Newfound Gap parking lot and hike 4 miles along the Appalachian Trail to reach Charlies Bunion. You'll climb a total of 1,640 feet during the roundtrip hike.
Trail Highlights: A long steep climb from the parking lot quickly leaves most of the crowds behind. Eventually, you'll reach a long stretch of trail that traverses a ridge where you'll hover at an altitude of 6,000 feet. Being at the highest point along this narrow ridge will feel like you're walking along the spine of the Appalachians.
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Originally known as Fodderstack, Charlies Bunion is a precipitous rock out-cropping that offers stunning views of the Tennessee side of the Smokies. If you still have the energy on your way back, take a side trail near the Boulevard Trail junction to visit the Jump-off. The views from this vantage point are well worth the additional one-mile roundtrip.
Trivia Tidbit: This popular destination gets its current name from when Charlie Conner was hiking with Horace Kephart, one of the early proponents of national park status for the Smokies. When they paused for a rest, Conner took off his boots and socks, exposing 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.
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Mt. Cammerer (Strenuous)
Nuts & Bolts: Start from the Low Gap Trailhead in Cosby for this 2,500-foot climb, 12-mile roundtrip hike to reach the summit of Mt. Cammerer.
Trail Highlights: Climb 2.5 miles up the Low Gap Trail before hooking up with the Appalachian Trail. While on the AT, you'll cross over a grassy ridge before turning onto the rugged spur trail that leads to the summit. Mt. Cammerer is on the edge of a rocky out-cropping overlooking the Pigeon River Gorge.
On a clear day, the views are simply awesome; some even say the best in the Park. For an even better vantage point, step up to the deck of the stone fire tower. This "western" style tower, which was fully restored in 1995, provides you with 360 degree views. Look in any direction and you'll see row upon row of smoky-blue mountains.
Trivia Tidbit: The octagonal fire tower was built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the late 1930s using hand-cut stone from the surrounding area.