Joyce Kilmer Recreation Trail
Old growth forest with yellow poplars that are over 100 feet tall and measure 15 to 20 feet in circumference
Follow the signs from the information shelter and you will soon cross the Little Santeetlah Creek footbridge and begin an ascent into an old growth forest. There are benches along the route where you can stop to admire this untouched forest. At the midway point in your hike you will come to the Joyce Kilmer Memorial where a simple biography of Joyce Kilmer is engraved on a bronze plaque. On the upper portion of the trail there is a stand of yellow poplars that are over 100 feet tall and measure 15 to 20 feet in circumference. These trees are one of the most spectacular features of the Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock Wilderness Area. The memorial forest is an outstanding example of a cove hardwood forest -- a forest characterized by rich, thick soils; abundant moisture; and a variety of flora. In 1935, the regional forester wrote the Chief of the Forest Service that the forest was one of the "very few remaining tracts of virgin hardwood in the Appalachians...(and) we ought to buy it to preserve some of the forest original growth in the Appalachians." In 1936, the Forest Service bought 13,055 acres for the lofty sum of $28 per acre (at a time when most land was going for $3 to $4 per acre). While most of the surrounding land was logged, the area around Little Santeetlah Creek was spared -- protected by a recognition of its uniqueness and the drastic drop of lumber prices after the "crash of '29."