Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
May 10, 2014 • 2 Comments
After another long week at work I decided to find some place for an overnight trip. I wanted to stay away from the Great Smoky National Park due to the congestion, but wanted to find somewhere not too far away and less crowded. I decided on the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest near Robbinsville, NC. I left Thursday after work and headed south for three hours going by way of Bald River Falls and the Cherohala Skyway.
It was mid afternoon so the light wasn't the best but I did manage to capture a decent image of the falls. The waterfall is very easy to access alongside the road. I think evening light would be best so a return trip is a must.
I arrived at Joyce Kilmer around 5:00pm and found only one other vehicle in the parking lot. The occupants where having a picnic nearby so I would be the lone hiker in the park. I started the two mile hike and found it very tranquil being away from the sounds of the city and other people. At the beginning of the trail you cross a stream where the rhododendron are plentiful although none where in bloom.
Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is an approximately 3,800-acre tract of publicly owned virgin forest in .Graham County, North Carolina, named in memory of poet Joyce Kilmer (1886–1918), best known for his poem "Trees". One of the largest contiguous tracts of old growth forest in the Eastern United States.
About a mile or so into the trek you come to the intersection of the upper and lower loops. The upper loop is where the main groves of large 400 year old poplar trees reside. It's a very mysterious place under the canopy at sunset. You can hear the wind making it's way through the leaves with the occasional limb falling from above.
I stayed in the nearby town of Robbinsville, NC and made my way back to the park at sunrise the next morning where once again I was the only person in the park. Sunrise was similar to sunset as far as the lighting conditions. I made my way through the park once again, hiking the two miles. I found a millipede and toad this time as well as some wildflowers.
On my return to the parking lot I found it full of cars and people, seems as though it was "clean up day" in the park where volunteers were cleaning, trimming, and sprucing up the park. On the trail they were cleaning underbrush away from the trees and the trail. No mechanized devices are allowed in the park so all handsaws and trimmers were seen being used. In fact, there where some cases in 2010 where they used dynamite to down trees.