Nelder Grove is lesser known than other groves in the Sierra National Forest, which made the afternoon a stark contrast to our hike at Mariposa Grove. In several hours of wandering through different trails in the forest we encountered just two other sets of outdoor enthusiasts, an elderly couple unloading mountain bikes and an older family at the Bull Buck Tree. The road to the trail might have something to do with it since the last few miles to the grove are unpaved and quite rough.
Plenty has been written about the giants of Nelder Grove, so I’ll leave the specifics to the experts. The weather is crazy here, as it is across the country right now. We were going to hike Nelder Grove last weekend but nixed the idea when we saw the forecast of rain/snow mix. This weekend the forecast was record high temperatures! Just like the proverbial box of chocolates.
As our elevation climbed the temperature dropped. It was 68 degrees during our hike at about 5,000 foot elevation and 88 degrees when we got back home to 1,800 feet. If you don’t like the weather, just alter your elevation!
One of the most unusual features of Nelder Grove is that this was heavily logged in the late 1800’s so the forest is dotted with stumps left behind – huge stumps. It’s hard to imagine someone chopping down these giants! The reason they grow for thousands of years is that their bark protects them from fire and tannin protects them from insects, but nothing could protect them from the loggers.
We found it interesting that giant sequoias will carry up to 11,000 small cones at any given time, they will drop about 2,000 of these each year, each containing 200-300 seeds. A giant sequoia will drop 60 million seeds in its lifetime, but only about three will become trees that grow to 100 years old or more.
A change from our hike through Mariposa Grove was that we got an early start to the day and had no specific agenda. This let us hike at a more leisurely pace, and stop more frequently to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells. More pine smells, no people noise, and the same beautiful scenery as you would see in Mariposa. Highly recommended as an alternate or supplemental hike to anyone coming to the area.
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