Charlies Bunion via Kephart Prong LoopDifficult

Newfound Gap Rd. / Bryson City, NC

Charlies Bunion via Kephart Prong Loop


14.2 miles

Elevation Gain

3,310 feet


Newfound Gap Rd.


Bryson City, NC

Trail Description Written by Caroline Sullivan

There is more than one way to reach the popular viewpoint Charlies Bunion. This 14.2 mile loop hike (sometimes called a "lollipop") is a less crowded option for Smoky Mountain hikers interested in more than just the view from the destination.

The most popular way to reach Charlies Bunion is from the busy Newfound Gap overlook along the Appalachian Trail for 4.2 miles. Alternatively, for this loop hike, you can keep driving on Newfound Gap Road (US-441) for about 8.8 miles to reach the Kephart Prong trailhead. Hike the steady incline of this trail for 2 miles before reaching the junction between Grassy Branch and Sweat Heifer Creek Trail.

At the end of Kephart Prong you can choose to go right on Grassy Branch trail for 2.5 miles or left on Sweat Heifer for 3.7. Both trails are quite steep and relentless climbs, but either way, you'll find a bit of relief on the AT (via Sweat Heifer) and Dry Sluice Gap (via Grassy Branch), as both trails have downhill segments for at least a portion of this hike. Whichever route you choose, you'll be going downhill on the way back around.

Upon reaching the AT, you'll find that this is likely to be the most crowded part of the complete hike. The 4 mile segment from Newfound Gap to Charlies Bunion is very popular especially later in the day. But this portion of the AT is not nearly as relentless of a climb as the first couple of miles from Newfound Gap; compared to the trails hiked up until this point, the rocky ups and downs of the AT aren't too bad. The hardest part is over.

Charlies Bunion is a stunning destination to behold, with views for miles on a clear day. It's a must-see for any Smoky Mountain hiker.

#charlies bunion
#grassy branch
#kephart prong
#sweat heifer
#bryson city nc

Trail Difficulty Scales Explained

Elevation Grade


Fairly Flat

Paul Petzoldt Scale






Shenandoah Scale


Very Strenuous




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