We didn’t need to travel too far for a hike that had fall color and room for Sally to run. Many times we don’t think of this jewel that has Giant Sequoias groves, picnic tables, and many trails to explore. This time of the year, the dogwoods were putting on a show for us.
Where: Sierra National Forest, Nelder Grove
Distance: 9.29 Miles
Difficulty: East to Moderate
Elevation Range: 5,275′ – 6,043′
Date: November 7, 2014
Maps: Ahwahnee Topographic Quad
We headed north on Highway 41 out of Oakhurst, turning right on Sky Ranch Road, following it past the turnoff to Nelder Grove (Road 6S47Y) to Road 6S90 on the left where the Nelder Grove Campground sign was. The dirt road had a couple of wet spots in it but it wouldn’t be a problem for any cars, as long as they don’t stop while moving through them. We parked at the Interpretive Center and used the nice, clean porta potty that was there.
The Friends of Nelder Grove have a wonderful website where you can read a lot of information about this area, including an interpretative guide that you can download or print out to take with you to give yourself a guided tour. I have a link to that website at the end of this Blog. I borrowed the detailed map from that site. The Interpretive Center also has two cabins that were used during the latter half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century in Biledo Meadow. These cabins were moved from Biledo Meadow during 1980-1981 to Nelder Grove. (Photo of cabin by Debra Kincaid)
While Sally ran around, I checked out he dogwoods at the Interpretive Center, which were just starting to turn their fall colors and were very pretty
The website has a lot of information about the history of this area and I learned that Nelder Grove is named after John Nelder, who came to California from New Orleans to seek his fortune in gold. He came to the grove in 1875 and built a cabin, living there for 14 years. John Muir, famed naturalist and author, met John Nelder outside his cabin under the sequoias in 1875.
In Muir’s book Our National Parks (1901) he describes walking with Nelder. “His eyes brightened as he gazed on the trees that stand guard around his little home; squirrels and mountain quail came to his call to be fed, and he tenderly stroked the little snow bent sapling Sequoias, hoping they yet might grow straight to the sky and rule the grove.”In 1889 John Nelder’s cabin burned down and he passed away shortly after that.
Nelder Grove is about 1,540 acres and located in the Sierra National Forest. The United States Forest Service acquired the land from the Madera Flume and Trading Company in 1928 and this is a wonderful place to learn more about the rich history in this area. Native American history, mining, logging, cattle camps, pioneer history, wildlife and diverse vegetation are all here for you to see firsthand. Of course, one of the big highlights of the grove are about 100 mature Giant Sequoias, growing in 4 separate groups.
We wanted to get some mileage in on this trip, so started out on the Outer Trail, which goes by the Clothespin Tree, Hawksworth Tree and the Granddad Tree. The trail went through some shady areas with dogwoods but many had turned a yellow color and had started to dry out. In other areas, the dogwoods were gorgeous!
There are also some sunny parts of the trail where we could get nice views of oaks turning a beautiful yellow color. We could see all of the way over to the Coast Range and we could also see that yucky, hazy smog in the valley. A limb had fallen over the trail but we were able to walk underneath it to continue our hike.
Sally found a few small patches of snow that were still left from the last storm. She loves the snow!
We reached the Clothespin Tree and you can sure figure out how it got it’s name.
We checked out the Hawksworth Tree and the Granddad Tree, then we headed over to the campground for an early lunch. Deb set up her little tripod and put the camera on automatic pilot to capture this picture of our hiking party.
In the campground, there were some very nice dogwoods with that red fall color.
Perhaps some future Giant Sequoias??
After lunch, we headed up to check out the Bull Buck tree. Boy, this is a huge tree and we had to walk quite a way uphill in order to capture a picture with the entire tree. Can you believe that this tree has been around 2,700 years?
We headed up the California Creek Trail that takes off next to the Bull Buck tree, wondering where it led to. We took a closer look at the GPS and map, deciding to backtrack our route. (Photo by Debra Kincaid)
We wanted to get more mileage in so we headed back to the a looped trail that had a very pretty bridge on it. No horses are allowed on this trail.
As we were heading back to the Campground on this loop, we came across the United States Forest Service Crews who were burning some piles of slash. They had sure done a good job of cleaning up the debris that creates a fire hazard that could threaten these groves of Giant Sequoias. The Giant Sequoias have adapted to be able to survive fire and in fact they require fire to open up the understory and create a fuel bed that will support the germination of their seeds. The crew told us that this was the second day that they had been burning piles. There were many more yet to burn. Nice work!! (Picture of me and Sally with the crew by Debra Kincaid)
Prior Blogs on This Area: