I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree…
Groves of Old-Growth Giants
The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest near Robbinsville preserves one of the largest stands of old-growth trees in the eastern United States. Part of the Nantahala National Forest, the 3,800-acre Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is a paradise for walkers, with trails that lead beneath giant trees, some more than 300 years old.
This tract escaped the lumbering of the 1920s that resulted in the clear-cutting of surrounding areas. Today the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is home to more than 100 species of trees, including virgin stands of sycamore, basswood, oak and yellow-poplar. The largest tulip poplars are more than 20 feet in circumference and over 100 feet tall. Beneath these giants, the forest floor is carpeted with wildflowers and ferns.
An easy, two-mile trail winds through the Forest, forming a figure-eight. At the center is a plaque commemorating the poet Joyce Kilmer, for whom the forest is named. Kilmer was a World War I hero and author of the famous poem, “Trees.” The Forest was dedicated to him in 1935 by the US Forest Service.
From Robbinsville, take NC 143 West. After about 12 miles, turn right on Joyce Kilmer Road (SR1134). Go two miles and turn left at the signs for the Forest.