While North Carolina has just 88 miles (with another 200 miles that run along the Tennessee border) of the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail, those miles contain some of the most scenic and unusual spots rising and falling along the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains and through the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hiking the Appalachian Trail through the Great Smokies in North Carolina’s Swain and Haywood counties is considered a unique experience as this area crosses the Trail’s highest point, goes through its most diverse ecosystem and crosses the largest area of the Trail without a road. The Appalachian Trail can be hiked through the Great Smokies as a five-to-eight-day trip (depending on your speed) from Fontana Dam to Davenport Gap or in smaller segments such as Clingman’s Dome, Max Patch Mountain or Newfound Gap (where you can celebrate your bunions at Charlies Bunion Mountain, which was named after a bunion). Just outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but still inside of the “Smokies” region, the Appalachian Trail also passes through the whitewater rafting home of the Nantahala Outdoor Center and down the main street of tiny Hot Springs. Both make great spots for quick hikes on this famous trail.