Stories by Joanne O'Sullivan

39 Stories Posts
Joanne O'Sullivan Headshot

Joanne O’Sullivan lived and traveled on three continents before settling in Asheville. She served as the Asheville correspondent for VisitSouth.com, RootsRated.com and writes for the Asheville Citizen-Times, WNC Magazine and other publications. On the weekends, she can be found exploring the great outdoors around Asheville with her family.

Wildcat Rock Overlook Trail

Wildcat Rock Trail in Hickory Nut Gorge

A relatively new Western North Carolina trail offers challenges and rewards The Wildcat Rock Trail features a waterfall, long-range views, caves and wildflowers. Completed in 2017, the three-mile (each way) trail is the result of years of conservation efforts between a local couple and several conservation groups. The trail itself is the brainchild of Conserving Carolinas

Trombatore Trail in Winter

Trombatore Trail

An introduction to Hickory Nut Gap Steep wooded slopes, mountain creeks, open fields and long-range views: this trail has a little bit of every type of terrain that you'd find in the Hickory Nut Gap area. The trail begins at the same parking area as the popular Bearwallow Mountain Trail. But the Trombatore Trail is lesser known so chances are you'll see far fewer people on this trail.

Scenic vista of Roan Mountain with orange azaleas in foreground

Roan Mountain Hike on the Appalachian Trail

Roam the Roan Highlands on this unforgettable section of the AT Considered one of the most scenic areas on the entire Appalachian Trail, this section starting from Carver’s Gap (elevation 5,512) takes you across three spectacular unique grassy hilltops (known as "balds") with unimpeded views. If you arrive in mid-to-late June, you’ll catch the rhododendron bloom, one of

View from the Rich Mountain Fire Tower near Asheville, NC

Rich Mountain Fire Tower Hike

A robust hike with payoff views from a historic 30-foot tower Stunning long-range views await you from the recently refurbished Rich Mountain Lookout Fire Tower along the Appalachian Trail in Hot Springs. In Spring 2018, the historic fire tower reopened with sturdy steps and a fresh coat of paint thanks to a partnership with North Carolina Forest Fire Lookout Association, Appalachian

Pinnacle Park View

Pinnacle Park Hike

This classic hike near Western Carolina University delivers a workout Looking for a challenge? Dramatic views await at The Pinnacle, a rock outcropping that sits at elevation 5,008 feet. When you reach the summit, you'll see the town of Sylva below, with the Smokies in the distance and the Plott Balsam mountain range in the foreground. You’ll get a serious workout on this

Image of Pink Beds trail inside forest with ferns covering ground

Pink Beds Hike

An idyllic (and flat) hike in the woods for the true nature lover Nature lovers flock to the Pink Beds Loop Trail in Pisgah National Forest. The sounds of the rushing creeks and bird song add a peaceful, unhurried feeling to the atmosphere. Evidence of wildlife—such as the beaver dams seen on the ponds—is all around on this winding woodland trail. Uncommon in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Sun setting over mountains at the top of Lookout Mountain

Lookout Trail Hike in Montreat

Popular, easily accessible trail with picnic potential If traveling from downtown Asheville, you can be stepping on the Lookout Trail in Montreat in about 25 minutes and, after a brisk hike, stepping off it under an hour later. Rock outcroppings near the peak make for perfect picnicking, and the horizon is dotted with the peaks of the Seven Sisters of the Black Mountains. Fall color is spectacular

Frying Pan Mountain Lookout Tower Hike

Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower Hike

High above it all on the Blue Ridge Parkway Tower above the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoy panoramic views in all directions from this 70-foot-tall historic fire lookout tower. Fryingpan Tower is the tallest fire tower in Western North Carolina. So, even though the hike isn't difficult, this hike may not be for those who are afraid of heights. The only way to see the views on this hike

Sun is setting over mountain at the top of Devil's Courthouse vista

Devils Courthouse Hike on Blue Ridge Parkway

Intriguing name, spectacular sunsets From the parking area at Devil’s Courthouse Blue Ridge Parkway, you can see your destination above you: an imposing rock outcropping that dares you to climb it. Rise to the challenge: from atop this edifice, you’ll have the world at your feet, with views to the north, south and west. After all, the summit of Devil's Courthouse is at 5,720 feet.

Water flowers down Indian Creek Waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Deep Creek Waterfall Hike

Three wonderful waterfalls on one Great Smoky Mountains National Park hike Deep Creek is one of the most beloved areas in the Smokies, known for offering the opportunity to see three beautiful waterfalls. Take a 5-mile loop hike to see them all or craft a shorter hike. Deep Creek is also known for its popular tubing sections -- one of which passes directly in front of one of the

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