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    Activities & Sightseeing Destinations

    The following activities are recommended for your enjoyment during your stay at Camp Nelson Lodge. If you have any questions, be sure to give the lodge a call.

    Stagg TreeTrail of 100 GiantsCamp Nelson TrailDome Rock | Needles Fire LookoutQuaking Aspens | Golden Trout WildernessBackpacking | Fishing | Hunting | Snowmobiling | Horseback Riding | Cross-Country Skiing | Photography | Amateur Astronomy

    Stagg Tree

    The Giant Sequoias are the largest trees in the world. They are found only in groves on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. The Stagg Tree is the largest outside of the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The Stagg tree is 243 feet tall and has a diameter at ground level of 29 feet. The Stagg tree is the fifth largest tree in the world!

    To reach the Stagg tree from Camp Nelson, drive 2.1 miles east on CA-190, turn left on Redwood Drive, and continue about 5 miles through Alpine Village and Sequoia Crest. When Redwood Drive turns sharply left to become Alder Drive, go straight ahead on the unpaved road .4 miles to the sign marking the trail. From the trail head, it's an easy hike to the Stagg tree.

    If you get a chance, walk beyond the Stagg tree on the logging road to see Alder Creek. Some small, but very pretty water falls are nearby.

    Trail of 100 Giants

    This short and easy trail meanders through over 125 Giant Sequoias in the Long Meadow Grove. The trail features Giant Sequoias over 10 feet in diameter and another 143 "smaller" Giant Sequoias. There are signs along the trail that teach visitors about the Giant Sequoias, Ponderosa Pines, and other forest inhabitants. This is a great trail for families with small children.

    Easy access and parking are available at the trail head near Redwood Meadow Campground. To reach this trail from Camp Nelson Lodge, drive 8.8 miles on CA-190 E, then continue onto Co Route 107 for 12.8 miles to the parking lot. Learn more here.

    Camp Nelson Trail

    Just a short distance from the lodge, Camp Nelson Trail includes mountain streams and Giant Sequoias. The full length of the trail takes approximately two hours down and three hours up. It is well worth the effort. From the lodge, drive east on Nelson Drive for 1.5 miles until the road ends. The trail head is at the end of the road.


    Dome Rock

    flickr: fsantiniFrom Camp Nelson Lodge, drive 12.5 miles on CA-190 E to road 21S69 (there will be signs for Dome Rock at the intersection). Turn left, then follow the dirt road a short distance to the parking lot at the base of the dome. From there it's a short hike to the top of Dome Rock. You can see the Kern Canyon 3,000 feet below, the giant granite needles, and Lake Isabella. Dome Rock is also a popular spot for amateur astronomers.

    Needles Fire Lookout

    The Needles are a series of massive granite rock formations rising from the North Fork of the Kern River near its junction with the Little Kern. The fire lookout atop the Needles, at an elevation of 8,245 feet, offers majestic views of the Golden Trout Wilderness and Kern River Canyon. A 2.5 mile long, moderately difficult hike leads to the lookout, which includes a steep, long staircase leading into the tower itself.

    To reach the Needles Fire Lookout from Camp Nelson Lodge, drive 9.6 miles on CA-190 E then turn left on Forest Route 21S05 going east. After traveling 2.5 miles on a fairly good dirt road, you will reach the trailhead. Parking area is ample. Learn more here.

    Update: The lookout was lost in a self-contained structure fire on July 28, 2011.

    Quaking Aspens

    Photo by Roy Toft, NationalGeographic.comQuaking Aspens are particularly beautiful trees with white, birch-like bark. Their name derives from their tendency to shimmer in the sunlight. The leaves of these trees are a lighter color on one side than on the other, and when the wind blows the trembling leaves give the entire tree a shimmering appearance. They reach heights of 40–70 feet and are found at altitudes of 6500–10,000 feet in Southern California.

    The Quaking Aspen trees are found in many parts of the Upper Tule Recreation Area. Large groves are found near the Quaking Aspen Meadows, visible from the CA-190. There are hiking trails and campgrounds near the meadows. With some luck, you may see deer or bears in the meadows.

    Golden Trout Wilderness

    The Golden Trout Wilderness Area stretches over more than 300,000 acres in Sequoia and Inyo National Forests. The Wilderness features beautiful terrain that varies from pinyon pine woodlands at the lower elevations to Jeffrey pine forests at mid elevations. Some of the Wilderness is above the tree line.

    The GTW that lies within Sequoia National Forest is bordered in part by Sequoia National Park on the north, and Mountain Home State Forest on the west. Approximately 150 miles of trails for horses and hikers are located on the Sequoia National Forest portion. These trails can be accessed from Hwy 190 near Quaking Aspen via Forest Service Road 21S50 which leads to Summit, Clicks and Lewis Camp trailheads; Lloyd Meadow Road (Road 22S82) which leads to Jerkey and Forks of the Kern trailheads; Balch Park road to Mountain. Home State Forest, Shake Camp trailhead; Sherman Pass Road or Hwy 395 via Nine Mile Road to Blackrock trailhead. Click here for more info.

    Pacific Crest Trail

    The Pacific Crest Trail is one of the most well-known hiking trails in the world. Stretching from Canada to Mexico, the route passes through 25 national forests and 7 national parks. The trail ranges in altitude from near sea level to over 13,000 feet. Locally, the trail passes through the Golden Trout Wilderness and Sequoia National Monument. Come experience the wonder of the Pacific Crest Trail as you hike a short distance near Camp Nelson Lodge! Learn more here.


    A Forest Service Map is highly advised for this area. Camping is allowed any place on mineral soil 100 feet from trail or water. No camping on meadows. Ground fires are only allowed with fire permit. Check with the ranger district for all back country camping rules.


    Camp Nelson is the gateway to the Golden Trout Wilderness. Local guides are available and fly fishing is the name of the game here. If you're looking to have fun and pass on the art of angling to your children, our local streams are good for learning. The fish bite all summer. So drop a lure or a worm and have some fun!


    You'll find specatular hunting for big game, upland game and challenging varmint hunting near Camp Nelson. The area is particularly known for bear hunting and quail. Fall sees a mix of hunting options for licensed hunters in the area. There are even special youth hunts nearby in Springville, coordinated by the Hunter Heritage program in association with the California Fish and Game Department. Be sure to sign up early and get a good night's rest here at the lodge before your morning hunt.


    Snowmobiling is popular in the Upper Tule Recreation Area. The Sequoia Snowmobile Club is a good source of information. Here is a link to their web page which includes maps for snowmobiling near Quaking Aspen and Ponderosa.

    Horseback Riding

    Horseback riding is available at the packing station a few miles up the hill from the lodge.

    Cross-Country Skiing

    Cross-country skiing is very popular in the Giant Sequoia National Monument. Skis can be rented at Ponderosa about 13 miles up the mountain from Camp Nelson Lodge.


    Landscapes, wildflowers, wildlife and more. Photographers will find a number of beautiful locations in the high country setting near Camp Nelson Lodge.

    Amateur Astronomy

    The clean mountain air and the lack of city light glare enhances the night sky. The heavens seem so close you can touch them. Stars unseen in the low country are easily visible here, filling the night sky with unimaginable brightness. You will enjoy a rare treat seeing astral phenomena you can't see at home. August guests will enjoy meteor showers.