Tag Archives: National forests

Nantahala National Forest – A Review

Nantahala National Forest: A History by Marci Spencer
Published by The History Press, $21.99

Marci Spencer was the speaker at a Carolina Mountain Club dinner a couple of years ago. She gave a spirited talk about her book on Pisgah National Forest.

Marci knows how to write a lively history of our public lands. She did it for Pisgah and now Nantahala National Forest, the more remote of the two in Western North Carolina.

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail winds its way through the forest, though it is difficult to know when it leaves Nantahala and goes into Pisgah – you have to really keep your eyes open for signs.

But you’ll recognize other places that you may never have associated with Nantahala National Forest.

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, with the “big trees”, is in the Cheoah Ranger District. I have a sweet spot for Joyce Kilmer, the poet as well as the forest, since he came from New Brunswick, in Central New Jersey, where I used to live. He never visited Western North Carolina but is mostly remembered for one poem,

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

You’ll have to read Marci’s book to find out how and why the forest was named after the New Jersey poet and journalist.

The book is a delightful mixture of hard facts, stories that others have told her and that she’s dug up from her many sources.

And those photographs… The History Press is well known for its beautiful color pictures and this book is full of photographs from many people.

If you’re a hiker, historian or just interested in how the public got all this land, read Nantahala National Forest: A History. I wonder where Marci will go next.

Nantahala National Forest history book

        Celebrate the History of Nantahala National Forest

         and the release of Nantahala National Forest: a History

                                      By: Marci Spencer



       Saturday, August 26, 2017    1 p.m.        Franklin, NC   Town Hall

30 mins. prior to the program………………….Music by the Nantahala Hummingbirds

Opening comments………………………………..Mayor Bob Scott

Singing of the National Anthem……………….led by Dr. John Spencer

Guest speaker……………………………….Retired USFS District Ranger Lewis Kearney

Guest speaker……………………………….Historian & retired USFS Marshall McClung

Song: “Nantahala Bound” ………………written & performed: retired Professor Jere Brittain

Keynote speakers: ………………………..NC House of Representative John Ager

NC House of Representative Kevin Corbin

“History of Nantahala National Forest”…………..Presented by Marci Spencer, author

Closing comments; event invitations………………Mayor Bob Scott



1) Hike with the Nantahala Hiking Club to Rufus Morgan Falls. (2 miles; easy)

2) Tour “Nonah,” the home site of Rev. Morgan, led by his grandson, Albert Rufus Morgan, III; visit historic St. John’s Episcopal Church & the Nonah Weaver Cabin (Kathy Tinsley)

3) Visit the ancient Nikwasi Mound (led by Barbara McRae, historian/former newspaper editor)

4) Join the Book Signing.                                    

The Strange World of Ocala National Forest

If you look at the image above, you may have no idea of what it is. What strange country is this in? It’s Fern Hammock Springs in Juniper Springs Recreation Area in Ocala National Forest – one of several springs in Central Florida.

Ocala NF has freshwater springs sprinkled around its huge land mass. The water temperature in the springs is a constant 72 degrees year-round. You can swim in some springs, boat or fish in others and even snorkel.

Danny, Beth and Sawako on the Florida Trail

On my trip to Tampa to speak to the Tampa Garden Club, I stayed with Beth, a hiking friend. We walked through Tampa and St. Petersburg, both lovely cities. On the last day, we drove over to Ocala NF and met another Carolina Mountain Club hiking friend, Sawako.

What a lovely reunion!

The Florida National Scenic Trail goes right through Ocala NF, as it meanders for about 1,300 miles from Big Cypress National Preserve to Gulf Islands National Seashore. We walked a small section of the trail. It was sandy and flat through scrub pines.

Trail to Lake George in Ocala National Forest

The trail to Lake George felt different, mostly because of the huge amount of Spanish moss. From tree to tree, the moss seemed to jump into the air, across the trail and land wherever. More palm fronds and less sand, as well.

We reached the lake in a little more than a mile. Lake George is the second largest lake in Florida, but so shallow, only ten feet in depth. It attracts migratory birds and alligators. When we were there, we only saw several herons in the distance.

I can really understand the attraction of Florida, beyond the allure of the beaches. I was hiking in shorts – I was in shorts the whole time I was there in February. I only put long pants back on in north Georgia.

But I can hardly complain. As I write this in Asheville, it’s over 60 degrees. Wild!