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Charle Bunion Continued

Ice water spring shelter

After leaving Ice water Spring, the trail is a downhill slide through the wet sandstone and slate that is part of the trail. The forest here is very damp and very beautiful. As you walk downhill towards Charles Bunion, the Forest changes from a Boreal forest of spruce and fir trees to a northern hardwood forest. Maples and cherry trees line the trail as you hike closer to the "Bunion". After three quarters of a mile, your destination can be seen through breaks in the trees. 

As you walk through the hardwoods, the views on the left and the right of the trail are spectacular. This is truly one of the east's greatest ridge hikes. Tennessee is to the left of the trail and North Carolina to the right. This part of the trail is very much unlike the section of the AT that you hiked to get here. In 1925 a huge forest fire swept up these ridges burning everything in its path. This area was heavily logged and very few trees were left on these precipitous slopes. The timber companies carelessly left the waste from the clear cut trees behind causing a fire hazard. This "Slash", branches that the loggers couldn't use, caught fire and turned this beautiful mountainside into a waste land. Four years later a horrendous thunderstorm washed away the remaining soil and left the exposed rock that is a characteristic of this section of the trail. This man made destruction has a beauty of its own.

Charlie Conner     

After the great thunderstorm of 1929 Horace Kephart, the famous writer from Hazel Creek, gathered a group of hikers to observe the damage caused by the storm. One of the team members, Charlie Conner, was known to have foot problems. While observing the newly formed cliffs with awe, Kephart named the large out crop after Charlie's aching feet. The name stuck.

After reaching this great rock formation, many hikers are tempted to climb around the edges of this spectacular rock formation. Beware ! Several lives have been lost here due to the unstable nature of this rock formation. That being said, the views deserve a long break to take it all in. This is one of the greatest places in the park for a picnic lunch. Looking straight ahead, one can see Gatlinburg, Tn. on a clear day. To the right of the view is a great valley, surrounded by great cliffs.

Lots to look at...enjoy !





Charles Bunion is in the center of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. Drive to Cherokee or Gatlinburg and take 441 (Newfound Gap Road) to Newfound Gap. This is approximately 20 miles from Cherokee and 15 miles from Gatlinburg, one of the few drives through the untamed wilderness of the Smokies. From the parking lot at the Gap, it's well marked, take the white blazed Appalachian Trail. It begins to the left of the rest rooms. From there it's only 6 miles to the greatest views in the park.

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