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Hiking Nelder Grove in Sierra National Forest

Careful may get cold
Careful may get coldPhoto by Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Hiking is one of the least expensive ways to get exercise, get a vacation, and have fun. Fresno residents are lucky to be a short drive from Sierra National Forest which houses the Nelder Grove. The Nelder Grove is a grove of Giant Sequoia trees along with about 1500 acres to hike in.

The easiest way to reach this from Fresno is to take Highway 41. From Highway 41 head toward Oakhurst which is a tiny town with a variety of eateries and gas stations along with a map and department stores. Exit Highway 41 just north of Oakhurst and take the Sky Ranch Road which is otherwise known as Road 632. Drive on this road for approximately 7 miles. You will see a dirt road labeled 6S47Y, look carefully for this road as it is quite easy to miss. After you turn left onto 6S47Y drive for approximately a mile until you reach 6S90. At 6S90 intersection a trail head is a half mile to the left and campgrounds and more trail heads are under a half mile to the right.

The great thing about this area is that the camping stops are free. The bad thing is that only two of the sites are available for walk-ons. Additionally the other bad thing is there are only 7 camping spots. The last challenge is that the roads into the camp are gravel covered and have tree canopies over some sections. Try to avoid driving low or long vehicles as they could encounter challenges. There are several trails, artifact displays, and historical replicas near the camp including life size replicas depicting logging techniques.

Bull Buck
Bull Buck Lucinda Roth

Bull Buck

The Bull Buck trail is accessible from the fire road near the cabin approximately a quarter mile from the fire road. The Bull Buck Trail is also accessible from a trail head approximately a half mile from the camp site. It is a very easy trail to jog which makes it great for hard work out days. One thing to remember is that the trails are one way so you see the same scenery both ways. This is great because it allows you to exercise strenuously on the way out since you will be seeing the same scenery on the way back. A great thing about the trail is that is it only about a mile round trip for you to jog on or just walk on.

Shadow of the Giants
Shadow of the Giants Lucinda Roth

Shadow of the Giants

This is a trail to the left of 6S90. The Shadow of the Giants is virtually the only trail to the left. The remaining of the trail heads are on the right. The Shadow of the Giants trail is also unique in that until most of the other trails it is a loop. This is great because you see completely new information during the entire trail. The entire loop is only approximately a mile. Its short distance allows you to do this trail and then head to the camp site and do additional hikes.

Chimney Tree Tail
Chimney Tree Tail Lucinda Roth

Chimney Tree Tail

The Chimney Tree Trail trail is a trail to the right of 6S90. It is a great and easy trail to hike. It is just over a mile each way so you might way to bring extra water and maybe even a lunch. The scenery is amazing along the way, particularly if you enjoy bird watching. Depending on the season, based on personal experience, I have found that you may be able to see a multitude of different birds and other animals depending on the season here.

Leaner Tree
Leaner Tree Lucinda Roth

Leaner Tree

The Leaner Tree trail is a trail whose trail head starts at the campground. It does not have a loops so again you get to see the same sights twice. This allows you to maximize the fun and minimize the risk of not seeing something along the way, which is quite easy to do on a hike like this with quite a bit to see. The trail is approximately 1 mile out and then approximately another mile back to the camp site.

Clothespin Tree
Clothespin Tree Lucinda Roth

Clothespin Tree

The trail from the camp to the Clothespin Tree is about 2 miles each way. Expect to spend approximately an hour or more hiking the trail as it does get a bit tedious in some areas. However it is an amazing trail and highly recommended must hike. The trees along the way are beautiful and you get to see some amazing historical replicas and displays too which make it well worth the walk.

Graveyard of te Giants
Graveyard of te Giants Lucinda Roth

Graveyard of te Giants

The Graveyard of the Giants is a trail that is about 6 miles round trip. It is again an amazing trail but one where you go out 3 miles and then turn around 180 degrees and return back 3 miles. On the ways you can see full size replicas of different logging methods. These replicas include both a two pole chute and a cross log chute in addition to a tramway for moving lumber from the mill to the flume. There were build predominantly by John Hawksworth.