What is the mission of the Partners of Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness?
1. To protect, conserve and enhance the natural resources and historic heritage of the Joyce Kilmer - Slickrock Wilderness area.
2. To assist the ranger of the Nantahala National Forest in developing, improving and maintaining facilities and resources such as trail, interpretive information sites and other support facilities, and maintaining and protecting heritage sites.
3. To support educational, interpretive and research opportunities that increase the awareness, enjoyment and appreciation of the area.
4. To support the U.S. Forest Service in caring for the land and serving the public.
Why can't I just clear the trails myself when I visit the area?
While working in the Wilderness, volunteers are temporarily considered employees of the U.S. Forest Service and covered by their Worker’s Compensation insurance. As an individual visitor, you would not be covered by insurance, nor would you have permission to alter the Wilderness landscape in any manner.
I've heard that chainsaws cannot be used to clear big trees in Joyce Kilmer. Is that true?
That is correct. The Trail and Memorial Forest is part of the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness. As a designated wilderness, no motorized or mechanical vehicles or equipment are allowed.
How long is the double loop trail in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest? Is it worth it?
The trail is in the shape of a figure eight. The Lower Loop is 1.25 miles long and the Upper Loop is .75 miles long. The upper loop is dramatically different from the lower loop and meanders through the largest trees and the greatest patches of wildflowers. It is well worth the extra effort.
Can we pick just a few flowers from the Memorial Trail?
No. It is illegal to pick the flowers or remove any of the natural wonders you will discover along the trail. Trillium plants may die if their blossom is picked two years in a row. Also, if you remove the blooming flowers, then other visitors will not have the opportunity to see them!
Are there bathrooms?
Yes, there certainly are facilities right in the main parking lot. Should you need to use the bathroom while out on the trail, we encourage you to familiarize and utilize Leave No Trace Principles.
How much are members paid to clear trails?
Partners of Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness Inc. are volunteers and receive no payment for their work and contributions. The budget of the U.S. Forest Service has been cut to the point where there are not enough employees to keep the trails clear. Volunteers that love the forest and love to walk in the woods help to the keep the numerous trails clear. We love to have new people come and enjoy the forest, so please join us.
Can I pick a few flowers and take them home with me?
No. No plants, living or dead, may be removed. Please stay on the trail to prevent damage to the intricate root systems of the forest.
I've heard that the forest has been greatly affected by insects or disease in recent years. Is this true?
What you have most probably heard are reports of the destruction of the Eastern Hemlock trees by the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid. These majestic trees have been all but eradicated by this tiny insect. It has certainly changed the ecosystem by allowing a great deal of light to reach the forest floor. There are still a few Eastern Hemlocks in the parking lot area. These trees were treated with an insecticide called “Merit”. There have been only two main species of trees in the forest that have been impacted over the years; the Eastern Hemlock and the Chestnut. The rest of the Memorial Forest continues to thrive and includes numerous hardwoods and a plethora of wildflowers.
Is the trail easy to hike?
The trail and Memorial Forest is part of the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness. As a designated Wilderness, it is managed to protect naturalness and solitude. The only way to traverse the two-mile trail is on foot and the footing can be treacherous. There are numerous rocks and roots and areas that are wet and muddy. There are steep uphill and downhill grades. We rate the trail as medium to difficult and do not recommend it for visitors with weak knees, hips or ankles.
Is the Naked Ground Trail part of the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Loop Trail?
The Naked Ground Trail, which you will pass as you hike the Memorial Loop Trail, is not part of the loop trail. There is a trail sign with an arrow that shows you where the Memorial Trail continues and where the Naked Ground Trail forks off and leads into the Wilderness.
Are there campgrounds near by?
Absolutely! The closest campgrounds are Horse Cove and Ratler Ford Campgrounds. Click either name in the previous sentence for more information.