Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest - Hiking

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Summary

A fitting Memorial to the man who authored “Trees.” Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is home to towering trees accessed by a hiker-friendly, 2 mile, double loop trail.

Written by

Steven Reinhold

Distance

2.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

78.8 miles

Difficulty

1 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 hours

It won't take very long to hike the loop, but you will want to spend some time exploring the forest.

Seasonality

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

Yes

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

“I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree. 

Poems” – and RootsRated reports- “are made by fools like me

But only God can make a tree.”

Pardon my paraphrasing and liberations with the Poem, “Trees,” by Joyce Kilmer. Kilmer is most remembered for the simplicity and beauty of this work. Tragically, Kilmer died during WWI in France. The man’s poetic legacy needed to be memorialized; a 3,800-acre tract of virgin, cove hardwood forest, along Little Santeetlah Creek was chosen to stand as a memorial to the man who personified trees.

What Makes It Great

Today, the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest stands as one of the largest tracts of virgin timber on the East Coast. Kilmer’s cove hardwood forest is home to a vast variety of flora and fauna. Oak, Beech and Sycamore trees share the woods with laurels, azaleas and wildflowers, but the landscape is dominated by the comparably colossal “Big Poplars.” These 400 year old giants of Joyce have grown in girth to a staggering 20ft circumference and reached heights greater than 100ft.

Until the turn of the 20th century these yellow-poplar giants struggled for light beneath a canopy of American Chestnuts. The American Chestnut was considered the “Redwood of the East” before a blight - discovered on imported Asian Chestnuts at the Bronx Zoo in 1904 – devastated the old growth population. As you read this, another behemoth, which shares the slopes with yellow-poplars, is in danger of becoming extinct. Hemlocks in Joyce Kilmer have been so ravaged by the Wooly Adelgid that the Forest Service was forced to fell nearly their entire lot. With Wilderness regulations changing rapidly in today’s world blights and insects are not the only threat to the woods. Let these remaining giants stand not only as a memorial to a poet, but as a towering homage to the power of preservation!

Who is Going to Love It

Tree huggers – and we say that in the most adoring way possible – will pine over the canopy within the Memorial Forest. The towering yellow-poplars put on a vibrant display of budding green and “tulip-poplar flowers” in the spring while fall sees the canopy painted a hue of heavenly yellow. Hikers can explore the mighty forest by way of a 2 mile, double loop trail. The upper, Poplar Cove Loop is home to the most impressive poplar specimens.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The drive from Asheville to the trailhead for Joyce Kilmer is scenic, but it will take you 2 hours. Picnic tables, grills and restroom facilities are provided at the trailhead free of charge. Your dogs are welcome here, but don’t let them raise a leg on the giant poplars!

Location

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

NC,
35.358956, -83.929496

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