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Mariposa Grove to Biledo Meadows Hike

White, orange, yellow, blue, and purple flowers showed off for us on this hike. Some were striped and some had dots. We also saw bugs and butterflies flitting around the flowers. We even saw young bucks still in velvet and we almost got hit by a mob of turkeys while flying home. What a nice hike that was close by and we had the place all to ourselves! The wildflower display in the old Cow Camp at Biledo Meadows is always one of the best around. Some years are better than others and this is not one of those better ones but it was still very much worthwhile to pay a visit to Biledo Meadows.

Where: Sierra National Forest, Yosemite National Park
Distance: 9.7 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Range: 5,617′ – 7,113′
Date: July 2, 2014
Maps: El Capitan Topog, Sierra National Forest Map

There are many different ways that you can get to Biledo Meadows. You can hike there from Mariposa Grove as we did, or you can hike from the Goat Meadow Snow Play area or you can even drive there.

We parked at the parking lot at Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, stashing our goodies in the bear box and headed up the road and trails to the Outer Loop Trail where we headed off the park and into the Sierra National Forest. From Mariposa Grove, there are several ways you can wander up there, just depends on whether you want to spend more time looking at the Giant Sequoias, or if you want to just get to Biledo Meadows.

We hadn’t walked too far from the parking lot when we encountered two young bucks in velvet, chomping on the grass along the road. As we slowly walked up the road, they barely moved and we walked within 10 feet or so of them.

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We walked along side some of the huge Giant Sequoias in the Mariposa Grove, admiring their size and age. The trail that we took to get to Biledo Meadows was well marked but the sign is a little bit off of the main trail and easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it.

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As we walked along the trail, we had already spotted several different types of wildflowers and we got a whiff of mint in some areas, pinningthis small white flower down to a member of the mint family.

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Paintbrush lined the trail in places.

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Bitter dogbane.

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Once we arrive at Biledo Meadows, we were greeted by lots of Coneflower.

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Yarrow

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Paintbrush

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Meadow lotus

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Cow Parsnip aka Indian celery aka hogweed

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I don’t know what this is or what it was used for. Is it part of an old engine or old mining stuff?

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Biledo Meadows is a beautiful meadow area that was used as a cow camp. In fact cattle still graze in these parts and we saw some evidence to support that. In addition to the gorgeous wildflower display, there are some very old cabins standing in the meadow. There are two types of cabins still standing (one cabin was moved to Nelder Grove). One cabin is made of hand-hewn logs and the other is made of round logs. The round log cabin was built by Thomas Biledo (Biledeux) in 1890. He was a French Canadian who is said to have come to the area in the 1880s.

I was curious about Thomas Biledo and wondered if I could find out a little more about him. Here is a little timeline that I worked out for Thomas Biledo (Biledeaux).

  • February 1854 or 1859: Born French Canada
  • 1875: Entered the United States
  • 1880: Living Fish Slough, Mono County, California. He is single, living alone and his occupation is Carpenter.
  • 1886: Registered to vote in Fresno County. He states the date and location that he was Naturized and that he is living in Flume.
  • March 25, 1886: Became a United State Citizen Fresno County.
  • 1890: Built the cabins at Biledo Meadows
  • 1896: Registered to vote in Madera County. His is living in Crane Flat with a Post Office in Fresno Flats, is a Carpenter and his description is 5’5″, light complexion, blue eyes, dark hair.
  • 1900: Living Township 4, Madera County, California. He is single, living alone, renting and his occupation is Carpenter.
  • 1910: Unable to locate in California but found a Thomas Bilodeaux living in Cedar, Missoula County, Montana. He is single, a Partner and Laborer on a Mining Dredge.
  • 1920: Living Crane Valley Precinct (Township 4), Madera County, California. He is listed as widowed, living alone, renting and occupation as Miner in a Gold Mine. He states that he entered the US in 1875 and became a Citizen in 1886.

I tried to find death information or a grave for Thomas but couldn’t confirm that I found him. I searched around the Oakhurst and Raymond areas, guessing that he probably died in the area but since his life seemed to revolve around mining, he could have upped and moved somewhere else.I found a Thomas Billedeax registered to vote in Bakersfield 1938 to 1940 but the only information says he is retired. I did find a Thomas Alexander Billedo, born 1850 who died 1926 in Pilot Knobb Cemetery in Iron County, Missouri but this is a different Thomas Biledo.

Even though my quick search for information on Thomas Biledo filled in some gaps, there are still some questions that I couldn’t answer on him. I was unable to find Immigration or Naturalization papers for him. A trip down to Fresno might yield those answers. He states that he was widowed on the 1920 census. What was his wife’s name, where were they married and what happened to her? He died after 1920, but where did he die and where is he buried?

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We found Bigalows Sneezeweed growing right next to one of the corners of the first cabin and it was very pretty.

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Mallow

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The tall white flower spike is a Sierra Rein Orchid.

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Leopard Lily

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I couldn’t get enough of the Coneflower. The way that the morning light was dancing through its petals was so beautiful.

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Bigalows Sneezeweed and Bistort

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Gail and I walked through a meadow of white puffy Bistort to check out another cabin.

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Have you ever really looked closely at the foundations of these old cabins? Sometimes they surprise me that they are still standing. Well, I guess many aren’t.

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After a snack, we headed back, slowly checking out the flowers on our way.

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Low growing rose, lining the trail, had opened their flowers for us on the way back. I just love it when I capture bugs on the flowers.

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We beat the heat on this hot summer day by hitting the trail at 0630 on this hot summer day and got back to the car at about 11. Sometimes in the summer we don’t think about hiking because of the heat but there are many nearby hikes that you can do in the span of a morning.

We think that Biledo Meadows is getting close to the best time for flower viewing. The Coneflower was definitely looking gorgeous but we also noticed some flowers not yet blooming. Now is a great time to get up there and check it out.

I want to give a public thank you to Joanna Clines, Botanist for the Sierra National Forest, for helping identify some of the flowers on this hike. I was stumped by the bitter dogbane, yarrow, and meadow lotus this week but she solved that mystery for me. Thank you Joanna!!

I mentioned our attack by the turkeys and would be remiss to not share more with you on this. We were heading back down Hwy 41 when a flock of turkey decided to fly across the road in front of us. There wasn’t much we could do as they narrowly missed the car. We could hear a few wings flap on the car as we drove through this but no turkeys were harmed.

MG to Biledo 39Sources:

Uhte, Robert, Yosemite’s Pioneer Cabins [Sierra Club Bulletin 36(5) (May 1951)]http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/yosemites_pioneer_cabins/
1880 Census; Census Place: Fish Slough, Mono, California; Roll: 69; Family History Film: 1254069; Page: 128A; Enumeration District: 050.
California State Library, California History Section; Great Registers, 1866-1898; Collection Number: 4 – 2A; CSL Roll Number: 13; FHL Roll Number: 976461.
California State Library, California History Section; Great Registers, 1866-1898; Collection Number: 4 – 2A; CSL Roll Number: 23; FHL Roll Number: 976933.
1900 Census; Census Place: Township 4, Madera, California; Roll: 93; Enumeration District: 0041; FHL microfilm: 1240093.
1910 Census; Census Place: Cedar, Missoula, Montana; Roll: T624_834; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0056; FHL microfilm: 1374847.
Find A Grave. Find A Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi.

2 comments

  1. Eileen Cavanaugh

    Love the pictures and commentary!! Felt like I was hiking with you!

  2. I really enjoyed reading about your Bildeo Meadow hike. The Sierra Hiking Seniors will be taking this hike on Monday & from all the beautiful flower photos you posted, I’m sure it will be one of their favorites. Thank you for such an interesting article. Look forward to reading others you have written.

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