Stories by Joanne O'Sullivan

26 Stories Posts
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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.

An Evening with the Elk

Little Cataloochee Trail

Peaceful scenery and dramatic wildlife on this historic Smokies trail For nearly a century, Big and Little Cataloochee valleys in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were home to generations of farming families. Hike past abandoned (but mostly restored) homesteads and churches that were once full of life. If you’re lucky, you’ll encounter Cataloochee’s most interesting new

Linville Gorge East Rim

Linville Gorge East Rim Trails

Something wild for the advanced hiker Called “the Grand Canyon of the East,” Linville Gorge drops 2,000 feet to the Linville River. Part of the nearly 12,000-acre Linville Gorge Wilderness, this is unspoiled country where rock climbers and backcountry campers with serious gear like to spend time in solitude. West Rim trails tend to go down into the gorge, but along the East Rim,

Hiking Trail: Laurel River

Laurel River Trail

Once a rail bed, now an idyllic hike along a mountain creek There’s something about the Laurel River Trail that feels hidden and undiscovered, even if you’re sharing this former rail-bed trail with others. Take a picnic, bring your dog and wear your swimsuit if it’s summer. There are many places to sit out on the rocks and soak in the sun. This is a family-friendly hike that even

John Rock

John Rock Trail

A classic Pisgah hike, plus a simple nature trail for kids Pisgah National Forest is a world-class hiking destination. Among the 400+ miles of trails in the Pisgah Ranger District (there are two other districts in the 500,000-acre forest, too), the hike to John Rock is a ranger favorite. With forested trails, waterfalls and exhilarating all-season views, this hike is a classic. For families with

Graybeard Trail

Historic Retreat center trail with Seven Sisters views Founded as a retreat center in the 1890s, Montreat later developed as a conference center for the Presbyterian Church and also includes a college. The area’s steep wooded trails offer access to views of the peaks of the Black Mountains, called the Seven Sisters. Graybeard Trail is challenging, but rewards effort with incredible views.

Grandfather Mountain Trail

Grandfather Mountain Trail

The granddaddy of technical hikes Called the most technical hike east of the Mississippi (without climbing equipment), the hike to McRae’s Peak, Attic Window and Grandfather Calloway Peak at Grandfather Mountain is also affectionately called the “chutes and ladders” trail because it involves a number of cable-assisted and ladder-access area. Scale these peaks for the adventure of

Daniel Ridge Falls

Daniel Ridge Loop Trail

Mountain streams and mountain bikes With so many waterfalls in the Brevard area, Daniel Ridge Falls (a 150-foot cascade on Lanning Branch that’s also called Tom Spring Falls and less frequently, Jackson Falls) is often overlooked. Take advantage of its relative obscurity to have this peaceful riverside loop trail all to yourself. A mountain biker may whizz by you, but otherwise, all

Obamas Hiking Craven Gap

Craven Gap Trail

A perfect point of departure from the Parkway With thousands of acres of wilderness close to Asheville, where do you start to explore? For an introduction to the splendor of mountain scenery, try Craven Gap off the Blue Ridge Parkway, just 15 minutes from downtown. It’s an easy enough hike for kids, but it’s also the only place a president has set foot on the Parkway: President and

Graveyard Fields in Fall

Graveyard Fields Loop Trail

One of Asheville’s favorite hikes, with something for everyone Waterfalls, rhododendron, fall color, summer blueberry picking and high-elevation meadows and forests: there’s a reason just about everyone who hikes near Asheville has been to Graveyard Fields. This family-friendly hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway has something for everyone and several hiking options. What To Expect When

Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain Trails

A storied peak for ambitious hikers Local author Charles Frazier made this 6030-foot-high peak in the Great Balsams famous with his 1997 novel of the same name. The 2000 movie version won the hearts of even more fans. Hikers love it too, but it’s not a journey to take lightly. With an average of 7 to 10 hours on the trail, this adventure requires preparation and commitment, but rewards with