Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

Things To Do In The Smoky Mountains

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Joyce Kilmer, Poet Best Known for His Poem “Trees”

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, nestled in the Nantahala National Forest near Robbinsville, NC, is a cherished natural landmark. This forest, named in honor of Joyce Kilmer, a poet best known for his poem “Trees,” covers approximately 3,800 acres and is part of the larger 17,000-acre Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness. It is renowned for being one of the largest tracts of old-growth forest in the Eastern United States, making it a significant piece of natural heritage​.

The forest is home to an array of impressive trees, including poplars, hemlocks, oaks, and more, with some specimens estimated to be over 400 years old and reaching heights of over 100 feet. The largest trees boast circumferences of up to 20 feet. The lush undergrowth, composed of mosses, ferns, and wildflowers, further adds to the forest’s beauty and ecological diversity. Unfortunately, the forest’s hemlock trees have been significantly affected by the hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive pest, leading to the removal of many trees for safety reasons​​​.

For those looking to explore the forest, the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Trail offers a unique experience. This 2-mile figure-8 loop trail is the primary route for visitors and leads through some of the most stunning sections of the forest. The trail is divided into an upper and lower loop, with the upper loop passing through areas with the largest trees. At the midpoint of the hike, where the two loops intersect, stands a stone monument with a plaque bearing Joyce Kilmer’s biography. Other trails in the area, such as the Naked Ground Trail, Stratton Bald Trail, and Jenkins Meadow Trail, provide additional opportunities for more adventurous hikers to delve deeper into the wilderness​​​​.

The forest’s parking area offers basic amenities such as picnic tables and restrooms, but it’s essential to bring your own water as there is none available on site. It’s also advisable to arrive early, especially during peak seasons, to ensure parking availability​.

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