“3,800 acre "Land of Giants"”
North Carolina’s “Land of the Giants” memorializes poet and World War I serviceman Sgt. Joyce Kilmer who gave his life on a French battlefield when he was struck in the head by a German sniper’s bullet. But before he became a casualty of the Great War, Sgt. Kilmer left us with an American literary treasure. Kilmer’s poem “Trees,” is a beloved work that has been memorized and recited by schoolchildren everywhere for decades past. The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest has a story of its own to rival that of its namesake. This 3,800 acre virgin forest was set to be cut before the Great Depression hit, but when lumber prices plummeted it was spared. In 1936, upon petition of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, this site was selected and dedicated to honor Sgt. Kilmer forever. The primary two-mile figure-8 trail through the forest offers a moderately easy hike with options at the intersection to continue to the .75-mile upper loop or complete the lower 1.25-mile loop. The largest tulip poplar trees, however, are found on the upper loop, and although they cannot rival the redwoods and sequoias in California, they are impressive and breathtaking all the same. Forest maintenance traditionally has been hands-off, in the spirit of giving the old-growth forest the appearance of being untouched by man. Only trees that fell across the trail or posed imminent danger were sawed or cleared away. Sadly, two species have become casualties of exotic encroachment. The American chestnut fell victim to an Asian blight in the early 1900s, and although their stumps can be found to this day, they disappeared from the forest not long after its dedication. Most of the downed trees are confined to the lower loop, leaving the upper loop with the giant tulip poplars as majestic as ever. The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is an American treasure not to be missed. Although it makes for a lovely hike any time of year, I highly recommend hiking the forest in the autumn. The fall color and cool air will make your visit an unforgettable experience. Primary image and description from Backroad Planet.
Such a nice trail! I was surprised at how many people were there, because I had only heard about it from a college professor. Enjoyed the hike though. If you are looking to put things in perspective this place might do it for you. We did get a little lost trying to get back to town though, we lost service and so did our gps, but we had plenty of time so that wasn't a big deal.
Breathtaking hundred year old trees. Off the beaten path. Views are stunning in the early morning. Pet-friendly hike. Well worth the drive.
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Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
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