Bob Padgett Poplar

Categories: Play, Hiking & Backpacking, Kid-Friendly, Museums & Historic Sites, Outdoor Fun


  •  Native Old Growth Tulip Poplar offering an historic location near Highlands, NC
  •  The Bob Padgett Poplar is over 4 Centuries old 
  •  The Poplar is 127 feet tall with a girth of 20 feet
  •  Tulip Poplar was saved by James R. "Bob" Padgett, a Forest Ranger and Conservationist, in 1966 from "clear cutting" 
  •  Easy Access
  •  Family Friendly location near Highlands, NC
  •  Very short trail

The Local Scoop

A great stop just outside of Highlands, NC and on your way to Whiteside Cove Road, Bull Pen Road or the Chattooga River to stretch your legs and show the entire family what magnificent trees were once growing in the Nantahala National Forest.
This is one of only a few old growth Tulip Poplars still alive and growing in our area of this size. This massive tree was saved from "clear cutting" practices back in 1966 by James R. "Bob" Padgett, a forest ranger and conservationist.
The Bob Padgett Poplar impressively overshadows the surrounding trees around it, with the exception of a "sister" tree that is about 100 yards away on the slope above. 

Once on the trail, you'll notice a spur trail that goes off to the left and more up the hill than the one straight ahead. This will take you to the sister tree. Although not as big (and didn't seem to be living), it is still an impressive sight. We recommend this trail and historic site due to it's easy location outside of Highlands, NC and nearby outdoor activities.
This is a family friendly area and an extremely easy trail to navigate for Grandma & Grandpa. Visit the Bob Padgett Poplar, one of the last remaining giants like it around, and take in the relaxing and peaceful forest in which it lives. 
If this tree interests you, see also, "Wasilik Poplar Trail" on our site located in the Franklin area. 

The Local Directions

From the main intersection of U.S. Highway 64 & N.C. Highway 28 in Highlands, NC drive through main street until the road turns into Horse Cove Road (just past Mtn. Fresh Grocery on your right). Drive for 2.6 miles to "Rich Gap Rd." or "F.R.(forest road) #401, on your right. Continue another 0.1 mile to an Info Kiosk on the left and parking. The trailhead is across the road on your right, and you'll know where to go by the steps and railing you see heading into the woods. Follow this trail for approx. 0.1 mile to the Bob Padgett Poplar.

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Difficulty Levels

  • Hike2What's this?
35.045245, -83.176334
Easy via Horse Cove Road 
(just outside Highlands) 
Hike Distance
0.2 mile (roundtrip)
Nearest City
Macon County
Distance From
Highlands, 2.7 miles