Home » Blogs » Adventures with Candace » Adventures with Candace: Hiking with Fannie at Nelder Grove

Adventures with Candace: Hiking with Fannie at Nelder Grove

I told my puppy Fannie the Corgi all about a special place called Nelder Grove and how it wouldn’t be a long drive or hike. I tried to explain to her just how huge the Giant Sequoias were. I don’t think she totally grasped the concept but she said let’s do it!

Where: Sierra National Forest, Nelder Grove
Distance: 2.31 miles, but you can walk much farther or shorter if you wish
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Range: 5,108′ – 5,391′
Date: May 29, 2020
Maps: Ahwahnee Topographic Quad
Dog Hike? Yes

It was time for Fannie the Corgi to take her first hike with me and I chose Nelder Grove as the perfect place for this. I wanted something not too hard, not too far and a fun experience for her. We headed north on Hwy 41 out of Oakhurst, turning right on Sierra Sky Ranch Rd., past the turnoff to Calvin Crest and followed the signs to Nelder Grove on Road 6S90.I hadn’t heard for sure but I assumed the gate would be closed into the Interpretative Center and Campground and I was right, so we parked along the road in a pullout.

Sally the Weimaraner stayed home for this adventure and she probably enjoyed having that option, a mini-vacation away from the puppy. I think Fannie, just shy of 6 months old, wasn’t too sure what to think of this adventure. Sally loves treats and will do about anything for them. I tried tempting Fannie with a treat to pose for a picture but she wasn’t too interested. She tried to hide her treat for later, trying to cover it with some pine needles, so that bribing wasn’t going to work. All dogs are different.


We walked around the gate. If the gate would have been open, it would have cut off about 1/3 of a mile but the road is an easy walk, lined with dogwoods and wallflowers along the first stretch.



My plan was to walk through the campground up to the Bull Buck Tree and take that loop, if Fannie was up to it. As we headed up the trail, she wasn’t too sure what to make of this and soon a blue jay landed in the road ahead of us and that was very interesting.




We continued following the signs to the Bull Buck Tree and were soon there. It is so big that we couldn’t see the top from the base. It measures 247.31 feet tall, 64.2 feet around and is estimated to be about 2,600 years old.



There are a couple of stories on how the Bull Buck Tree got its name. One story is that the felling foreman or woods boss was called the “Bull Buck” and he told the crew to preserve the magnificent tree for posterity. The Bull Buck Tree was so named because its size made it boss of the woods. The other story is that it was only spared because of its massive size. Because of its huge size, it would have taken an estimated 2 weeks to cut it down back in the 1800’s and the weight of the tree as it crashed on the ground would have broken it up into bits, leaving many worthless pieces, not worth their time.

Fannie and I walked uphill to get a better view and I couldn’t resist getting Fannie’s picture with this huge tree.

I asked Fannie if she wanted to continue on the loop and return on a different trail. She indicated that she was up to it so we headed on it. The trail was lined with many Iris blooming

Sally would have leaped over this log on the trail but I have to lift Fannie up and over things like this. I placed her in the lit area on the log to take a picture but she doesn’t understand lighting for picture taking yet.

 False Solomon Seal 

The dogwoods were a little past their prime but still beautiful

We headed into the campground where the apple tree was fully leafed out. We missed it blooming but it was loaded with little apples getting started.

And I had to see how Fannie would pose of weird things like stumps and down trees.

We walked through the Interpretive Center and waved at the Campground Host as we headed back. As we got back to the car, her confidence had greatly increased since our start and she was much more relaxed.

Our little hike hadn’t taken too long so I thought I would drive down to check out the Shadow of the Giants, which had burned during the 12,047 acre Railroad Fire in 2017. It was sad to see the burned trees where once huge Sequoias reached to the sky in this area. The trail that looped through it didn’t look like it had any work on it and I didn’t venture down it.

The vegetation was quite lush underneath the remaining burnt tree skeletons with many of the wildflowers blooming. I watched a swallowtail butterfly work some wallflowers for a while then started heading home.

I had to put on the brakes when I spotted these bleeding hearts along the road yet. I don’t see them very often.

I highly recommend Brenda Negley’s book “Nelder Grove of Giant Sequoias: A Granddaughter’s Stories” for background on the trails and big trees on this hike, which has been updated to include the Railroad Fire impacts on the grove. It is full of detailed information that I cannot recommend enough if you would like to learn more about this very special place. Her grandparents, William “John” and Marjorie “Marge” Hawksworth, were the first volunteer campground hosts in Nelder Grove and protected it for 20 years from 1975 to 1995. Brenda spent many a summer up there with them, learning their stories and the history. If you would like to purchase your own copy, it is available locally at Branches Books near Von’s in Oakhurst.

There is a wonderful website maintained by Friends of Nelder Grove that you can access at this link: Friends of Nelder Grove Website. It has maps that you can print out, an interpretive guide that you can download for your visit plus much more.

Dog Hike?

I think this can be a great dog hike and have taken my dog Sally many times. There are a variety of trails, some very level and others with some elevation, to explore. In the summer you might need to bring extra water for your dog because the creeks may be dry. There was plenty of water in creeks on this day though.

Friends of Nelder Grove share the following related to dogs in the grove: Practice Responsible Pet Ownership. This means controlling your pets’ interactions with people and wildlife in natural areas. Please keep your pets leashed within developed recreation sites. We also ask that you “scoop the poop.”

Nelder Grove is located within the Sierra National Forest and they have a link to dogs in the Sierra National Forest called Canine Camper that you can access here. Even though this is not classified as a wilderness area, here is what they have on their website:

Domestic pets are allowed in wilderness areas. You are responsible for their actions as well as their welfare. Pets should either be leashed or under direct voice control. When camping in areas with other visitors, pets should be kept on a leash. Wilderness visitor’s who plan to travel into an adjacent National Park should be aware that National Parks do not permit pets.

We ask the public to remember these rules when taking pets into the wilderness.

  • Bury feces.
  • Do not tie up dogs and leave them unattended.
  • Do not allow dogs to chase wildlife.
  • Leave unfriendly or loud dogs at home.


What is a Doarama?  It is a video playback of the GPS track overlaid on a 3 dimensional interactive map. If you “grab” the map, you can tilt it or spin it and look at it from different viewing angles. With the rabbit and turtle buttons, you can also speed it up, slow it down or pause it.

Nelder Grove to Bull Buck Tree Doarama


Nelder Grove to Bull Buck Loop Topographic Map

Nelder Grove to Bull Buck Loop Google Earth Image

Nelder Grove to Bull Buck Loop Profile

Courtesy Friends of Nelder Grove


Negley, Brenda L., Nelder Grove of Giant Sequoia: A Grandaughter’s Stories, Otter Bay Books, 2016
Wikipedia List of Giant Sequoias

Prior Blogs on This Area:

Leaf Peeping With Mom Around Nelder Grove November 2, 2018
A Misty Day with the Dogwood Blooms at Nelder Grove May 12, 2017
Hiking From Nelder Grove To Kelty Meadow October 26, 2015
Hiking with Sally and Raven in Nelder Grove October 5, 2015
Nelder Grove Hike With Mom And Sally April 28, 2015
Hiking With Sally In Nelder Grove November 4, 2014
New Nelder Grove Online Information July 25, 2014
Nelder Grove Dog Hike January 24, 2014

Leave a Reply

Sierra News Online

Sierra News Online