Not every hike has to be a long hike and you sure don’t need to drive very far to get some exercise and enjoy the beautiful Giant Sequoias and dogwood blooms. My mom was visiting and we didn’t have a full day to drive for our adventure, so we headed up for a hike nearby. Our timing on this hike was pretty good for spotting beautiful dogwood blooms.
Where: Sierra National Forest
Distance: 2.1 Miles
Elevation Range: 5,196′ – 5,393′
Date: April 28, 2015
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 gate on the dirt road that leads up to the Interpretive Center where the cabins are located and the campground still had the gate across it, so we parked just outside the gate and walked up the closed road. It was only a mile or so to the campground. There were also two porta-potties along the way. The one at the campground was out of order.
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.
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.
The Friends of Nelder Grove have a wonderful website where you can read quite a bit of information about this area, including an interpretative guide that you can download or print to take with you to give yourself a guided tour. There is also a map of the trails that you can print out and bring with you.
We started seeing some beautiful dogwood blooms as soon as we began walking up the road. The flowers along the lower portion of the entrance to the Interpretive Center were very white and large. I love it when I get a picture with a bug on it. If you look closely at the first picture, you can see a bee between the petals working the center flower portion.
As we approached the cabins, there was a large mud puddle that we were able to skirt but Sally didn’t mind walking through it.
We headed up to the Nelder Grove Campground where mom picked out a nice picnic table for us to have our lunch.
From our lunch spot, we could see that the old apple tree still had a few blooms on it so I took a closer look at them after lunch.
We even found a snowplant right in the middle of the campground area.
We walked on up the ¼ mile trail to check out the Bull Buck tree and along the way, spotted some more dogwoods blooming. These blooms were a little younger, still having a tinge of green on the bracts.
When we reached the Bull Buck tree, there was a sign that gave us some information about it and it made us wonder what was going on in the world 2,700 years ago when this tree was a seedling. It was a challenge to successfully capture the size of this tree in a picture so I tried to get creative.
I noticed Sally had gotten real interested in something next to the trail and believe it or not, she had found snow! She found a couple of teeny tiny patches of snow leftover from the last storm. She loves the snow.
We made a stop at the cabins on the way down. There are two cabins located here 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. We also walked down the short trail to the Big Ed tree. We took a short break and Sally posed for me. We then headed back down the road to our car.
We spent less than 2 ½ hours up at Nelder Grove and walked a little over 2 miles. When the gate is open, you can drive to the Interpretative Center and the campground and won’t need to walk as much as we did. Or you use your time to explore the many trails in Nelder Grove. We had Nelder Grove all to ourselves and it always surprises me that we don’t see more people up in this very special area that is so close to home.
I think this can be a good dog hike, depending on your dog. On this hike, the creek was running and helped provide water for Sally. I don’t know what that water situation will be like this summer though with our drought, so you may want to pack dog water. You may be sharing the trail with horses and people, so your dog will need to be in your control.
Prior Blogs on This Area: