• Asheville Trails ambassadors Caren and Cazzie

    Caren & Cazzie


    Hey! We’re Caren and Cazzie. We met in India in 2014, and since then have traveled, and lived across the globe. After a failed teaching stint in China, we returned home to Cazzie’s home state of North Carolina. Caren is originally from Chicago, but instantly fell in love with the mountains that Cazzie already knew were great. We believe in getting outside, getting our hands a little dirty, and the restorative qualities of nature. You can usually find us at the base of a waterfall, at the top of a mountain, or swinging in a hammock in the forest.


  • Asheville Trails ambassador Derek Diluzio

    Derek Diluzio


    Derek first starting shooting pictures while he was leading expeditions abroad for college students. Images he shot while guiding in New Zealand inspired him to leave professional guiding and take up a career in visual storytelling. Now, Derek lives in Asheville North Carolina with his wife Sarah, dog Max, cats Charlie and Chance, and chickens Larry Bird, Randy Moss, and Turkey. When he isn’t creating imagery for leading brands and magazines in the outdoor industry, you can find him teaching the art photography, brewing beer, and honing his ping-pong skills.


  • Asheville Trails ambassador Hung Ta

    Hung Ta


    Hello, my name is Hung Ta. I am a lifestyle and adventure photographer based out of Boone, North Carolina. I’ve been practicing photography since January of 2017 and loved it ever since. In my photos, I aim to share my passion for the outdoors, by capturing a presented emotion or feeling, to then inspire others to go outside. I am currently a student at Appalachian State University and in my free time, I enjoy exploring trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Along with hiking, I also enjoy foraging, fly fishing and backpacking. I hope to improve as a creative as I explore more of this beautiful land.

  • Asheville Trails ambassador Jason Tarr

    Jason Tarr


    Jason is an avid adventurer and hiker who passionately explores the Blue Ridge Mountains. He serves as the Content Specialist for Explore Asheville – The Convention and Visitors Bureau. In that role, Jason combines his love for writing and photography to highlight the best of Asheville through content on the Visit Asheville social media channels and on ExploreAsheville.com. Before moving to Asheville, Jason worked as a television news reporter/photographer in Wichita, Kan., and Rapid City, S.D. He is also a singer whose performances include singing the National Anthem for the 2017 SoCon Tournament Championship game in Asheville. He performs weekly in town as a karaoke host and DJ for Get Vocal Entertainment.

  • Asheville Trails ambassador J Smilanic

    J Smilanic


    Dawnfire Photography is the photography of Asheville-based photographer J Smilanic. Born and raised in Colorado, J has a deep appreciation for mountainous scenery. What started as a way to document the amazing beauty found along his backpacking trips through the mountains of Western North Carolina, photography quickly became his passion and naturally paired quite nicely with his outdoor adventures. J’s images are largely captured within Pisgah National Forest which is nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Dawnfire’s vivid style of processing will have you feeling like your on location looking at the scene in person.


  • Asheville Trails ambassador Madison Hye

    Madison Hye


    I’m a 20-year-old Native Artist that practices Documentary and Fine Art Photography. I’m a tribal member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians located in the mountains of Cherokee, North Carolina. I’m on the road to receiving my BFA – Photography degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California. Growing up in the mountains is what inspired me to be a photographer, I wanted to capture how I viewed the Mountain Life & the culture of my Tribe for the rest of the world to see. Although I’m young, I have a professional outlook on my photography and I’m very excited for what is to come.

  • Asheville Trails ambassador Mandy Quinzi

    Mandy Quinzi


    My name is Mandy Quinzi and I am originally from Candler, NC, just 20 minutes West of Asheville. I currently live near Greensboro, NC with my husband with plans to move back to WNC soon. I enjoy photography, hiking, camping, and fly fishing. My go-to places for hikes and adventures include the Blue Ridge Parkway between Mt. Pisgah and Black Balsam Knob, and Catalochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains. Cataloochee Valley is an extra special place for me because I have been going there since I was little and in October 2016 I got married at the Palmer Chapel there in the park.


  • Asheville Trails ambassador Ryan Klein

    Melanie Miller


    I’m a psychiatry resident in my last year of training up in Charlottesville, Virginia. I lived in Johnson city for most of my life and went to medical school there. I’ve always loved being in the woods but only discovered photography in the last year. The mountains of western NC and East TN will always be home and I try to get there as much as possible. I spend almost all my free time exploring with my pup, Rosie, who has been by my side for 8 years now.

  • Asheville Trails ambassador Ryan Klein

    Ryan Klein


    My name is Ryan Klein. I was born in Greenville, South Carolina and raised in the Carolinas, and I’m currently living in Asheville. Never did I know I would develop such passion to be outdoors from growing up in a large city with nothing but parks and streets to explore. Over the years I started craving adventure as I’ve been driving around these mountains. The Blue Ridge Mountains are my favorite go-to, including the Mountains to Sea Trail and the Appalachian Trail. There’s no place I would rather hike than somewhere with waterfalls and scenic overlooks.

  • Asheville Trails ambassador Robert Stephens

    Robert Stephens


    Robert is an award-winning freelance outdoor photographer and writer based in Maggie Valley, NC. He was born and raised in the Atlanta area, but often found solace in the Great Smoky Mountains, making frequent trips there before eventually relocating in 2014. Robert particularly enjoys capturing the Blue Ridge Parkway and the many scenic vistas found at its overlooks and on its many adjacent trails. His images have been published many times over and have been licensed by various entities all over the southeast US. He is currently writing an illustrated book about his many travels and hikes over the years.


  • Asheville Trails ambassador Roger Upton

    Roger Upton


    I am a lifelong hiker based out of the beautiful Upstate of South Carolina. When I’m not at my day job as a general manager for a national non-profit, I’m either hiking + camping with my family and friends, or guiding hikes in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina and beyond. I’ve hiked all over the country – including North/South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia, Virginia, Colorado, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming (and many more), but I consider the Blue Ridge to have the finest hiking and scenery anywhere.