Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

  • Highlights: Old growth forest, wildflowers, wildlife
  • Distance: 2 mile loop
  • Elevation change: 370 feet
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Trailhead Parking: Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, Joyce Kilmer Road
  • Website: US Forest Service
  • Beer Pairings: Mountain Layers Brewery—Dragon Tamer IPA & Fontana Hoppiness

The Hike:

Many of the forests in western North Carolina were clearcut in the late 19th and early 20th century. The 3,800 acres that comprise the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest were spared from the saws and today this area is one of the best preserved old growth forests in the eastern United States. Many of these trees are over 400 years old and some have circumferences of over 20 feet. This easy loop hike travels through the forest with great views of these giants.

The hike is essentially a figure-eight. The loop closer to the parking area is 1.25 miles and the upper loop is .75 miles. At the intersection of the two loops is a memorial to Kilmer who was killed in action during World War I. Several bridges span streams, wildflowers abound, and the giant trees shade the trail. This is a wonderful hike. Enjoy.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

Mountain Layers Brewery in Bryson City is a great place to stop for a beer after a hike. Food trucks visit most weekends, and in addition to indoor seating, they have a nice deck with great views of the Tuckasegee River. They also have some pretty good beer. Kathy tried the Dragon Tamer New England IPA and it was just what a good NE IPA should be: hazy, with a citrusy/hoppy taste. It has 43 IBUs so it was a great balance of bitterness and hoppiness. Pete really liked Fontana Hoppiness, a west coast IPA made with Centennial, Columbus, Amarillo, and Chinook hops. It was amazing. The Hoppy Hikers were in hoppy beer nirvana. 

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe and be responsible.