Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide was founded in 2019 by Bret Love (a veteran journalist/editor with more than 20 years experience managing magazines and newspapers) and his wife Mary Gabbett (a photographer/videographer with 20 years of experience in managing small businesses).
Together they built Green Global Travel, an award-winning ecotourism/conservation website that is consistently ranked among the Top 40 travel blogs in the world. Their work has been featured in hundreds of major media outlets, including the BBC, Forbes, Frommers, The Guardian, Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Travel Channel, USA Today, Washington Post, and more.
In recent years they’ve emerged as thought leaders and popular speakers on responsible travel, sustainability, blogging, and business topics, advising companies like International Expeditions, Zegrahm Expeditions, Discover Corps, and the Adventure Collection. Their international travels have taken them all around the world, to more than 50 countries on 6 continents.
After becoming empty nesters in 2019, the North Georgia-based couple yearned to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains, where Bret’s Scots-Irish ancestors settled in the mid-1700s. Originally based near what is now Staunton VA, the Loves moved south to Abingdon and Wytheville VA, founded the town of Waynesville NC, and spread into Franklin NC, Erwin TN, and Georgia.
As they continue to explore this picturesque part of the Appalachian region, they’re also searching for a slice of mountain paradise to call home…
Born and raised in North Georgia, Editor-In-Chief Bret Love grew up hiking and camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his family. A professional writer/editor since 1995, he's covered travel and culture for 100+ publications, including American Way, Destination Marriott, Georgia Travel Guide, National Geographic, and Southbound. In 2010 he co-founded the award-winning website, Green Global Travel, which is ranked among the world's top travel blogs. Since launching BRMTG in 2020, he and Mary Gabbett have visited 50+ Blue Ridge Mountain towns together.
Though she lived in NYC for 14 years, photographer/Business Manager Mary Gabbett's family has Georgia roots dating back 200+ years. Her great-grandfather was President of the Western Railroad of Alabama.
Before moving to Atlanta in 1989, she fell in love with the North GA mountains, where her aunt owned a cabin. In 2010 she co-founded Green Global Travel, and has since traveled to more than 40 countries on six continents. Her photos have appeared in numerous travel publications (including National Geographic and Southbound) and various textbooks.
After visiting North Carolina for the first time, Senior Writer Jonathon Engels and wife Emma spent 2 years exploring Western NC in search of a homestead property. They first lived in Brevard, where Jonathon taught writing at Blue Ridge Community College and extensively explored the Blue Ridge Parkway and Pisgah National Forest. For the last several years they have lived just off the BRP near Elkin, Southwest Virginia, and the NC High Country. The couple also volunteers with the Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention, the Elkin Valley Trail Association, and Reeves Downtown School of Music.
Born in Britain, writer/photographer Emma Gallagher lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC on a permaculture homestead with her husband, Jonathon. While traveling the world for 13 years, she fell in love with the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge region when she lived at an artist retreat in Burnsville NC before moving to Brevard. Today Emma lives near Stone Mountain State Park and Doughton Park volunteers at the Surry County Fiddlers Convention, and cares for the gardens at the Reeves Downtown School of Music in Elkin. She's also a volunteer for the Elkin Valley Trails Association, which maintains segment 6 of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
Raised in the Midwest, Travis Feezell moved to North Carolina in 2008, which began his love affair with the Blue Ridge Mountains. He ended up buying a cabin near the Blue Ridge Parkway in Southwest Virginia, making the Meadows of Dan, the Dan River, and Rocky Knob his playground. Currently an executive in higher education, Travis is a longtime writer with numerous publications about travel and sports. His first novel, Home On the Line, explores themes of home and food and will be published in Summer 2023. You can often find Travis exploring hiking trails in Western NC and SWVA, and exploring restaurants in his hometown of Charlotte.
Born in Augusta GA, Samantha Dickens came of age on a 7-acre farm in Waynesboro GA, where she was surrounded by dairy cows, chickens, and the occasional goat. She's always dreamed of being a writer, filling multiple notebooks with short stories as a child. After hiking portions of the Appalachian Trail in North Georgia with her grandparents, she also found a love of exploring the outdoors. She went on to major in Communications at Arizona State University while working as an intern for Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide. Since graduating, she's balanced her burgeoning career with her duties as a writer and PR assistant for BRMTG.
Growing up in rural south Georgia, Christina Maggitas developed a love for nature at a young age and spent the majority of her formative years outdoors. Since visiting the Great Smoky Mountains with her family as a child, she has always admired the beauty of the Blue Ridge region and spends as much time as she can hiking in North Georgia. She has a passion for writing and storytelling, with the hopes of inspiring others to enjoy the great outdoors. Christina studied Journalism and Emerging Media at Kennesaw State University, and now works as the Travel Editor for US News & World Report.