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.

Max Patch Sunrise

Max Patch Trail

Play, picnic or practice yoga on this Appalachian bald Max Patch is a “bald,” the Southern Appalachian name for a hilltop without a single tree.  While this mountain isn’t naturally bald (it was cleared for grazing in the nineteenth century), it’s certainly naturally beautiful. Some call it “the crown jewel of the Appalachian Trail,” the famous footpath

Lover's Leap in Fall

Lover’s Leap Loop Trail

A taste of the Appalachian Trail in Hot Springs Taking its name from a local legend, the Lover’s Leap Trail in Hot Springs offers a bird’s eye view of the French Broad River and the mountains beyond it. Following the Appalachian Trail for a stretch, you’ll hike to a series of rock outcroppings where you can enjoy the view, a picnic and a breather from the somewhat strenuous hike.

Looking Glass & Parkway in Fall

Looking Glass Rock Trail

Looking for a challenge? Earn your view from the top in Pisgah National Forest Looking Glass Rock is a white-granite “pluton” (igneous rock), rising to nearly 4,000 feet from the floor of Pisgah National Forest. Visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mt. Pisgah and even the Black Balsam, it’s hugely popular with both hikers and rock climbers, especially during winter when

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,

Laurel River Trail

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 Mountain Trail

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.

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

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

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