Charlie’s Bunion, North Carolina
There are a lot of excellent reasons why Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park in the country. It has dozens of waterfalls, old-growth forests, meadows freckled with blooms, and abundant wildlife – all within spitting distance of some of the southeast's major cities. The good news is that the vast majority of visitors aren't particularly inclined to walk multiple miles uphill, which means that, with a little effort, it's possible to have stunning (and people-free) views over these ancient mountains. One of the best lookouts is Charlie's Bunion, a knob of rock accessed by a four-mile, 1,600-vertical-foot climb up the Appalachian Trail from Newfound Gap that's more popular with bears than day trippers. For those who take off in the morning, there's a good chance that you'll see how the park got its name. Layer upon layer of fog-shrouded peaks rise in waves that roll toward the horizon.
More information: Grab a drink in Gatlinburg on your way to the trailhead.