Joyce Kilmer was the poet who penned Trees (I think that I shall never see / a poem as lovely as a tree….). He was killed at the age of 30 in France during World War I. The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is a part of the Nantahala National Forest and was established as a living memorial to Kilmer at the request of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The U.S. Forest Service purchased the land in 1936, before it could be logged, so the area features one of the Appalachain’s only original growth cove hardwood forests. The tallest and largest trees are Liriodendron tulipifera or tulip tree, some them as much as 450 years old. They would have been seedlings about the time that Shakespeare was born.
There is an easy two-mile trail through the forest to the area where the largest and oldest trees are located.
Although the huge trees are the forest’s main attraction, its location in an Appalachain cove gives the area a diversity of other photogenic flora and fauna.