The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is located on the Cheoah Ranger District of the Nantahala National Forest, located in Graham County, North Carolina. The forest is named after the poet Joyce Kilmer, who wrote the poem “Trees”. The forest is home to some of the oldest trees in the Eastern United States, including some more than 400 years old. The forest is a popular destination for hikers, birdwatchers, and nature lovers, who come to marvel at the ancient trees and enjoy the pristine beauty of the forest. The forest is also home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, bear, and wild turkey.

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

35°22′25″N 83°58′32″W / 35.37361°N 83.97556°O / 35.37361; -83.97556Coordinates: 35°22′25″N 83°58′32″W / 35.37361°N 83.97556°O / 35.37361; -83.97556 Area 3,800 acres (15 kmtwo) Established 1936 Governing Body US Forest Service

Children at the foot of gigantic poplar trees

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is an area of ​​approximately 3,800 acres of publicly owned virgin forest in Graham County, North Carolinanamed in memory of the poet Joyce Kilmer (1886–1918), best known for his poem “Trees”. One of the largest contiguous extensions of old growth forest in the eastern United States, the area is administered by the US Forest Service. The memorial forest is a popular destination for family hikes and features an easy two-mile figure-eight trail that includes a memorial plaque at the junction of the two loops. In 1975, the memorial forest was joined to a much larger extension of the Nantahala National Forest to become part of Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness.


From 1915, the Babcock Lumber Company of Pittsburgh operated a standard-gauge railroad in the area, drawing about two-thirds of the Slickrock Creek watershed before construction of calderwood dam threatened to flood the lower part of the railroad. A decline in the price of lumber during the Great Depression also encouraged the preservation of trees.

In 1934, the Bozeman Bulger Post (New York) of the Veterans of Foreign Wars petitioned “that the government of the United States examine its millions of acres of forest and set aside an adequate area of ​​trees to remain forever as a living memorial” to Kilmer, a poet and journalist killed during First World War, whose 1913 poem “Trees” became a popular favorite. After considering forests across the country, the Forest Service decided on an uncut area of ​​3,800 acres (15 kmtwo) area along Little Santeetlah Creek that was dedicated as the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest on July 30, 1936.


The memorial is a rare example of old growth. cove broadleaf forest, a diverse type unique to Appalachian Mountains. The dominant species are yellow poplar, oak, linden, beech and sycamore. Some trees are over 400 years old, and the oldest yellow poplars are over 20 feet (6.1 m) in circumference and 100 feet (30 m) tall.

lack is the american chestnutonce the dominant tree of the forest, victim of chestnut rust accidentally introduced from Asia during the early 20th century. Although the last of the Kilmer chestnuts probably died out in the late 1930s, their wood is so resistant to rot that the remains of the logs and massive stumps are still visible. Another more recent loss is that of the giant hemlock due to an infestation of an exotic insect, the adelgid woolly hemlock. Concerned that a falling branch or tree could injure a visitor, Forest Service managers decided to fell the dead trees near the memorial trail in a way that they believed would mimic the natural play wind. In November 2010, the Forest Service blew up the trees with explosives, making the bottom trail much lighter and drier, thus changing the environment and creating a public relations challenge.


  • trail map

    trail map

  • dedication plaque

    dedication plaque

  • Trail


  • Stream



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