One of the few remaining sections of the original Appalachian forests, Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, a part of the 17,000-acre Joyce Kilmer–Slickrock Wilderness, has incredible 400-year-old yellow poplars that measure as large as 20 feet in circumference, along with huge hemlocks, oaks, sycamores, and other trees. If you haven't seen a true virgin forest, you can't imagine what America must have looked like in the early days of settlement. A 2-mi trail, moderately strenuous, takes you through wildflower- and moss-carpeted areas of great beauty. The forest is named for the early-20th-century poet/soldier, killed in World War I, who is famous for the lines "I think I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree." During June, the parking lot of the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is an excellent spot to see the light shows of the synchronous fireflies (Photinus carolinus), which blink off and on in unison.
15 mi west of Robbinsville, off Cherohala Skyway via Hwy. 143 and Kilmer Rd., Robbinsville, North Carolina, 28711, United States
828-479-6431-Cheoah Ranger District, U.S. National Forest