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Hiking with Sally and Raven in Nelder Grove

We were curious if those dogwoods had started turning those beautiful red fall colors yet in Nelder Grove. I could tell the dogs were also looking forward to the adventure!

Distance: 6.5 miles (but you can go more or less if you want to)

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Elevation Range: 5,242′ – 6,043′

Date: October 5, 2015

Topographic Quad Map: Ahwahnee


Raven and Sally at Nelder Grove Campground (Photo by Debra Sutherland)

It didn’t take us too long to drive from Oakhurst to Nelder Grove. 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. We were able to drive up the road, parking near the campground but I want to warn you that there is a stretch of the road past the gate where it is a little rutty. If you have a very low clearance vehicle, you may be better off parking at the gate and walking the rest of the way. Sally and Raven were ready to explore as soon as we parked.

Nelder Grove is a very special place with so much history. The Friends of Nelder Grove have put together an Interpretative Guide that you can download from their website link at the end of this blog. The Southern Sierra Miwok camped in this area, gathering acorns. One of the soldiers in the Mariposa Battalion referenced the grove in 1851 and Galen Clark saw the grove in 1858, naming it Fresno Grove. It received the name of Nelder Grove after John Nelder, who headed for California in search of gold. In 1875, he had quit prospecting, built a cabin in this area and homesteaded. John Muir came across John Nelder, describing him as “a fine, kind man, who in going into the woods has at last gone home; for he loves nature truly and realizes that these last shadowy days with scares a glint of gold in them are the best of all.” Nelder died in 1889 when his cabin burned down.

The area was heavily logged from about 1878 to the mid 1890s. Today, Nelder Grove is managed to protect those larger trees. There is a wonderful Interpretative Center that has historical replicas and displays that include full size replicas of the logging devices that were used. Oh, and I didn’t mention the old cabins that were brought from Biledo Meadow, which can be dated back to 1890 or so.

We started up the trail toward the Chimney Tree, whose center had burned out long ago but the outside is still living.








We continued up the trail, crossing a small creek on a beautiful wooden bridge. Bright green ferns hung over the water.


Fern at California Creek

We started to see some fall color on the dogwoods. There wasn’t a lot but we could see a few leaves here and there that had turned red. P1150100r

We walked up to the Bull Buck Tree, making it back to the campground in time for lunch. I always bring some power bars for Sally and she knew it was time for one of her treats. She also knew that she would have to work for the treat. I told her to sit. . .and she did. I don’t know which was funnier, how and where she sat or the reaction of Raven and Deb to this.


Sally Sits


I Sat Like You Asked, What is the Big Deal?

After lunch we headed up the Graveyard of the Giants Trail to the Hawksworth Tree, which honors John and Marge Hawksworth who were campground hosts at Nelder Grove for 20 years. We saw a few more dogwoods starting to show some color.


Surrounded by Dogwoods (Photo by Debra Sutherland)

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One Red Dogwood Leaf









It was time to head back to our vehicle and back down the road, but we had spotted some color on the way in and wanted to check it out.








I took a closer look at the leaves.








I spotted some Oak leaves turning a golden color.

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I also noticed that a bird had been checking us out while we checked the dogwoods out.

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We were really here for the dogwoods though.

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I think that these dogwoods will really be putting up a show in the next couple of weeks but you are bound to see blazes of red dogwoods in the area while there are green ones right next to them. If you feel like taking a little drive, head on up Sky Ranch Rd. to this area and see how they are doing!

Nelder Grove Dog Hike Topog

Topographic Map of our Hike

Nelder Grove Dog Hike Profile

Profile of our Hike



Prior Blogs in the Area:

New Nelder Grove Online Information

Nelder Grove Dog Hike January 14, 2014


Friends of Nelder Grove

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