Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is the highlight of this wilderness area. The 3,840-acre preserve was named after the poet Alfred Joyce Kilmer, who wrote the poem "Trees," although Kilmer never saw the virgin poplar and hemlocks here that have graced the earth for 400 years, some reaching 150 feet in height and 20 feet in circumference.
To Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest: take US 129 north approximately 1 mile past Robbinsville. Turn left onto NC 143 west (marked with a sign for Joyce Kilmer). After approximately 3.5 miles, turn left onto SR 1127 and continue for approximately 9 miles. The entrance is well marked on the left. To access the wilderness's southern perimeter, start at the Cheoah Ranger Station and turn left onto SR 1116. Travel 2.4 miles and turn right onto SR 1127. Continue for 6.9 miles to an unmarked road; turn left and then turn immediately right onto FR 81 (gravel road). Travel 6.8 miles to FR 81F and turn right at the forest service sign. Wolf Laurel Hunter Camp is ahead 4.4 miles on the left, and the parking area, signboard, and trailhead for Wolf Laurel Trail another .5 mile. To enter the northern portion of the wilderness, travel on US 129 for 5.6 miles north of where it intersects Old US 129. At a bridge across the Cheoah River, turn left onto a narrow, gravel road, FR 62. Continue for 7.2 miles to a parking area and the trailhead for Big Fat Gap Trail.
Facilities:Parking, picnic tables and grills, restrooms, water.
Primitive camping sites are abundant throughout the wilderness area, and U.S. forest campgrounds are near the boundary. In addition, the U.S. Forest Service Horse Cove Campground Area offers 17 units adjacent to the rushing mountain stream, Little Santeetlah Creek. The campground is located directly across from the entrance to Joyce Kilmer picnic area. Fishing is popular along and in the Little Santeetlah Creek and Slickrock Creek, as well as at nearby Santeetlah Lake.
Fees:Charge for camping
Closest town:Robbinsville, 17 miles.
For more information: Cheoah Ranger Station,
Route 1, Box 16A,
Robbinsville, NC 28771.
Phone (704) 479-6431.
Tim Homan's Hiking Trails of Joyce Kilmer–Slickrock and Citico Creek Wilderness Areas.