Joyce Kilmer Memorial Trail

At A Glance


2 mi one-way

Difficulty Rating: 2
Steepness: Hilly
Tread Condition: Some Obstacles
Trail Number: 43


This figure-8 loop trail travels through a spectacular, virgin forest, one of the largest contiguous tracts of old-growth forest in the Eastern United States. The forest around this trail is designated as the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, a part of the larger Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness. This is a fitting, living monument dedicated to an individual who is best know for his poem, "Trees".

The lower loop ascends the ridge above Litttle Santeetlah Creek, crossing some tributary streams and seeps on wood bridges. It passes through a former Eastern Hemlock grove. Most of those are now dead due to Hemlock Woolly Adelgid infestation, although inexplicably, one medium-sized hemlock survives as of September 2017. The rest were felled for safety with dynamite, leaving ragged, more natural-looking stumps than would have been created by sawing. It then descends back to Little Santeetlah Creek and follows it downstream for a ways.

A monument inscribed with the poem lies at the mid-point of the hike, where the figure-8 trail's two smaller loops cross.

The upper loop, where most of the big trees are located, climbs gently through a small stream valley before wrapping onto the side of the cove where it dries out a bit. Some enormous trees (mostly tuliptrees, but some other species) are located right beside this portion of the trail while some others are visible just above and below it. The trail curves around a few more times before arriving back at the figure-8 junction.

Excellent representation of original, native cove hardwood forest with enormous trees. Well-designed trail with creek crossings on bridges. Connects with trails in the larger, wilder Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness Area.

Intersecting Trails

  • Naked Ground
  • This trail is located in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest area. For a list of all the trails in that area, see the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest trails list page.

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    GPS Map

    Map Information

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    About the Map


    Base Layers

    Base layers provided by OpenStreetMap, the US Geological Survey, the US Forest Service, and NC OneMap. Base layer images are subject to the respective copyright policies of their owners. Base layers may not be available at all times due to system maintenance or outages.

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    Trail and Marker Overlays

    Trail layers and downloadable data are all original works created by WNCOutdoors with guidance from a variety of sources, including ensembles of our own GPS tracks, user contributed GPS tracks, official maps and GIS data from government agencies, and field observations. WNCOutdoors data is made freely available under the Open Database License - you are free to copy and use it for any purpose under the terms of that license (summary).


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    Trail Segments

    Trails are often made up of several connecting paths which may have different characteristics, allowed uses, and seasons. This trail is divided into multiple segments as follows:

    Joyce Kilmer Memorial Loop - Parking to Memorial Site

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 0.5 mi

    Joyce Kilmer Memorial - Naked Ground Tr to Memorial Site

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 0.46 mi

    Joyce Kilmer Memorial - Parking to Naked Ground Tr

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 0.26 mi

    Joyce Kilmer Memorial - Poplar Cove Loop

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 0.73 mi

    Joyce Kilmer Memorial - Parking

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 66 ft

    Total Calculated Length: 1.96 mi

    This value is derived from our underlying map data, and it may not match officially published information.



    Average Rating: 5.0 (rated 2 times)

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    Tabitha Myler said: This is a GREAT trail (easy) and you can see 450 year old trees that take 6 - 8 adults to wrap their arms around them!!! IT IS A MUST SEE WHEN YOU ARE IN THE AREA!!!!

    Monday, August 19 2013 3:48pm
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