Literary Trails of North Carolina

North Carolina has been hailed for being one of the most writer-friendly states, with the rural and urban landscapes as the best sources of inspiration for the literary traveler. The Literary Trails of North Carolina invite visitors and residents to explore the mountains of the state, this time from the perspective of the writers who spent a significant amount of their creative process in the region. The trail consists of eighteen half-day and day-long tours that aim to let travelers witness the importance of the place in a writer’s life. The Literary Trails in the Southern Mountains are where the oldest mountains (the Appalachians), the highest town (Highlands), the oldest inn (Woodfield), the largest house (Biltmore) and one of the oldest rivers (the French Board) can be found. The Southern Mountains are also the place where a replica of the shoes of Thomas Wolfe can be traced, a forest named after James Kilmer is named, just a reflection of how such tales can be inspired from the most beautiful green surroundings.

Included in the Southern Mountain Tours are the Black Mountain, Montreat, and Swamnoa (inspiration for avant-garde and mystery writers like Patricia Cornwell and Jill Jones), Canton, Cold Mountain, Lake Logan and Balsam (inspiration by a future North Carolina Poet Laureate), Sylva, Dillsboro, Cullowhee, Tuckasegee and Highlands (a popular location for Hollywood storytellers), Franklin, Hayesville, Brasstown, Murphy and Texana (inspiration for the folk school of writing), Robbinsville, Cherohala Skyway, Fontana, Almond and Nantahala Gorge (homes for story writers like Gail Godwin and Robert Morgan), Bryson City, Cherokee and Great Smoky Mountains National Park (center of mystery, magic and rich oral traditions), Waynesville, Hot Springs, Marshall and Mars Hill (home of O. Henry and Elizabeth Daniels Squire), Weaverville and North Asheville (home of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sidney Lanier).

Downtown and South Asheville (home of the first woman Pulitzer Prize winner) and Brevard, Rosman, Green River, Zirconia, Flat Rock and Hendersonville (home of the greatest poets and playwrights). The Northern Mountains and Foothills, on the other hand, is home to a number of new and modern literary works. There is also a number of outsider writers who went to the mountains simply for inspiration. Some of the well-known men and women of literature in this area are poet Hilda Downer, mystery writers Sharyn McCrumb, novelist Tony Earley and North Carolina’s one-time poet.

Included in the Northern Mountain Tours are Burnsville, Micaville, Celo and Mount Mitchell (home to Anne Tyler, Charles Price and Jonathan Daniels), Old Fort, Chimney Rock, Lake Lure and Tryon (Ernest Hemingway, Jules Verne and Peggy Payne), Rutherfordton, Shelby, Spindale and Forest City (Tom Tucker and Kay Hooper), Lincolnton, Hickory and Moravian Falls (home to an early feminist, award-winning biographer, poet laureate and a UFO expert), Wilkesboro, Happy Valley, Blowing Rock, Linville Falls and Morganton (Sam Earvin, Scott Nicholson and Christian Reid), Marion, Little Switzerland, Spruce Pine, Penland, Bandana, Kona, Bakersville, Roan Mountain and Banner Elk (home to Muriel Earley Sheppard and Carolyn Sakowski), Grandfather Mountain, Crossnore, Valle Crucis, Vilas and Boone (home to some of the most prolific and versatile writers) and Todd, West Jefferson, Jefferson, Crumpler, Sparta and Roaring Gap (Leland Cooper, Noah Adams and Tom Wolfe).