Last Saturday we drove to Joyce Kilmer Memorial  Forest and found it to be a magical place. Some of the trees within this natural forest are over 450 years old. Some of the tulip-poplars are more than 20 feel circumference and 100 feet tall. I was amazed.

The loop hike is just over two miles and winds through a dense canopied forest. We began at a foot bridge with a stream. I love the fact that Pat and Anne began taking photos immediately. Pat is in the foreground and Anne is in the background—snapping away.

Pat takes really great photos with her iPhone. She loves to take a photo, edit it, and post it and say, “I’m done!” Then she goes on to the next photo and once again beats us to the draw.

This forest is one of American’s most impressive remnants of old-growth forest. The 3,800-acre forest was set aside in 1936 as a memorial to the author of the poem “Trees,” Joyce Kilmer, who was killed in action in France during World War I.

Pat was just peeking in-between these two giants! It has been protected by the government so generations to come can enjoy it. The trees on the upper loop are huge. I understand that much of the forest surrounding this area was once clear cut for lumber. While the surrounding area may have been touched by axes, this dedicated forest remains as an example of what our country would have looked like if left to grow freely.

I’m so glad we made this trip. This forest continues to be maintained in its primitive state.

Along the way, we saw our first yellow fallen leaves!

Joyce Kilmer Memorial is part of the wilderness area that covers 17,000 acres in North Carolina and Tennessee and provides an example of primitive mountain area. Like other wildernesses, it is managed to protect naturalness and solitude. Trails are minimally maintained with no blazes (marked trails) allowed.

Pat stands beside a huge hardwood. The area is quite rugged but the pathway is easy to hike and we took much longer to travel it because we wanted to linger and enjoy being in this forest.

A memorial marker to Joyce Kilmer is located near the lower loop on the trail.

The best way  to enjoy this area is to reach out and touch the trees. Some are moss covered and feel they are encased with velvet.

Here’s Joyce Kilmer’s poem Trees

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

The trees have a language of their own. They called out to their power, might, and peacefulness.

We’ll definitely return to this forest and come back with tripodes so we can handle the low light that comes from being dense woods. Or maybe we’ll return in the winter when the trees are bare and wind-blown. That would be nice.

In fact, the middle of fall would be a colorful experience because these are all hardwoods. The parks eastern hemlocks are almost gone due to a disease that really took its toll a few years ago.