Home » Community » Trek through the Magic of Nelder Grove While You Still Can
Nelder Grove closes to the public on July 1. This is your chance to hike this treasure with someone who knows it better than anyone else.

Trek through the Magic of Nelder Grove While You Still Can

SIERRA NATIONAL FOREST—Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trail to Nelder Grove (NG). Oakhurst resident and Nelder Grove expert Brenda Negley plans to lead six hikes into Nelder Grove during the month of June.

These hikes, co-sponsored by the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association and the Friends of Nelder Grove  highlight the work that the U S Forest Service is doing to rehabilitate this beloved grove of Giant Sequoias after devastating fires swept through their midst. 

Hike Nelder Grove While You Can

Come July 1, 2024, Nelder Grove closes to the public for an unspecified length of time to finish up fuel reduction that’s been underway by the U S Forest Service since August 2022. After that date, no one but work crews will be allowed into the area. This is your chance to hike this treasure with someone who knows it better than anyone else.

Brenda expressed her full support for the closure and the ongoing work USFS is accomplishing. At the beginning of the rehabilitation project, Brenda stated:

As the Executive Director of Friends of Nelder Grove, we are in full agreement regarding this closure. We have been waiting for a long time for Nelder Grove to have the attention and funding to protect this special place with the urgent work  . . .

She continues, “On a personal note, though I will miss visiting regularly, I know that Nelder Grove is in good hands to further protect the part of Nelder Grove that did not die in the 2017 Railroad Fire. This preventative matter is exactly what Nelder Grove has needed for decades.”

Event Details

  • Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2
  • Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9
  • Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23

Hikes on Saturday will be shorter and at a sauntering pace, to accommodate the slowest walkers. 

“I don’t like either the word [hike] or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not ‘hike!’ Do you know the origin of that word saunter? It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre’, ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so, they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.” John Muir as accounted by Albert W. Palmer in “The Mountain Trail and Its Message” (1911)

Sunday hikes will be more strenuous with some uphill and cross-country over downed trees and through creeks. Brenda will be assessing trail conditions before the hikes, so the length of hike and area traveled as stated here may change according to conditions she encounters.

Saturday (Shorter) Hike Description

The plan for the shorter hike is to go to the Bull Buck tree and the waterfall (yes, there is a waterfall) and then down to the lesser-known tree Brenda has named Mr. Bill (she’ll explain why). Depending on time and hiker desires, she may then trek up to the Chimney Tree. Round-trip mileage for this hike will be around three miles. 

Sunday (Longer) Hike Description

USFS trail crew hard at work in Nelder Grove

Brenda will hike at a faster clip with few stops, heading up a moderate climb toward the Nelder Tree, the largest in Nelder Grove and the 23rd largest in the world. Most  hikers don’t go there because it does involve some cross-country hiking over downed logs and across creeks. From there she plans to head for the ridge, exact route to be determined after she reconnoiters the area before the hikes.

Expect this hike to encompass around six miles or more with elevation gain and little shade.

In addition to the hikes themselves, you will walk about 1/4 mile on a moderate uphill from the gate to the hike trailheads.

If you are not available on the weekend dates scheduled, give Brenda a call. Depending on her schedule, she may be able to arrange an extra midweek before the closure goes into effect.

Where to Meet

Hikers meet at Sierra Sky Ranch at 8 am, and Brenda departs promptly at 8:15 am. She won’t wait for late comers. If you know how to get to Nelder Grove, you can meet her at the gate, but advise her that you plan to do that. Be advised that parking at the Grove is extremely limited. Carpool if you can. 

Go Prepared

  • Hikes are limited to a total of 12 participants each day
  • Bring a hat, water, wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes
  • Wear sunscreen and bring insect repellent; there will be little to no shade
  • Consider taking trekking poles, if you have them

Call to Register

Brenda limits the number of hikers to 12 on each date out of respect for the land, to lessen our impact on the natural resources of the area. Call her at (559)760-9108 to reserve your spot or to ask any questions you might have.

Why Go with Brenda?

Western Azalea in bloom at Nelder Grove

She’s simply the best. This writer can attest to that from personal experience (except for the hike to the Nelder Tree). Brenda knows every tree by name, every trail, every flower, every stump. And she should. She grew up in Nelder Grove. Her grandparents, William “John” and Marge Hawksworth, served as the first camp hosts in the Grove, and the Hawksworth Tree is named after them. Brenda believes that Nelder Grove is sacred space, and it is her mission to share it with the world.

Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association Cleared Trails

Although Nelder Grove is not officially a part of the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association (SVSBA) sometimes partners with the Friends of Nelder Grove. Per Doug Waltner, president of the SVSBA In preparation for these hikes the association came into clear trails and make the grove as safe and accessible as possible for visitors.

Both Friends of Nelder Grove and Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association are 501(c)3 non-profit organization. They can use both monetary donations as well as volunteers. For NG, contact Brenda at (559)760-9108. To volunteer or donate to SVSBA, visit their website.

Note that Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association will offer a tour of the historic Jesse Ross Cabin on Saturday, August 3, 2024, led by Constance Popelish. Watch Sierra News Online for details.

Photos courtesy of Brenda Negley, Friends of Nelder Grove, Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association and Sierra News Online archives.




Leave a Reply

Sierra News Online

Sierra News Online