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California Nature Friends

The Nature Friends of California was founded in San Francisco in 1912. The founders and early members were immigrants from Austria and Germany who brought their culture, language, and love of the outdoors with them to their new home in California. All club members in the 1920’s spoke German and meetings were conducted in German. Until the early 1930’s, membership in a trade union also was required before becoming a Nature Friend.

Touristenverein

The club quickly grew to include other branches in California. The Los Angeles branch was founded in 1920, the Oakland branch in 1921, and a mountain lodge was built in the Sierra Nevada near Donner Summit in 1931. From 1927 on, the three California branches became one legal entity, the California Nature Friends, with deeds and properties held by the corporate body.

Today, the California Nature Friends is open to all nature lovers, and the club's facilities receive active use by members for overnights, meetings, social events, skiing and snowboarding, and jumping off points for hiking, camping, and climbing trips. The club's membership comprises an eclectic mix of people of all races, religions, and ethnic and national origins who enjoy the outdoors and camaraderie with fellow lovers of nature.

Nature Friends of California is a California 501(c)(7) not-for-profit, mutual benefit organization, whose main purposes are:

  • To acquaint its members with the natural scenery of the country and to provide an opportunity for the enjoyment thereof
  • To encourage the study of nature, and to disseminate the knowledge of the natural sciences
  • To support and aid in the protection, conservation, and preservation of woods, wildlife, and the natural features of this country
  • To promote friendship and good relations with other organizations and individuals who are sympathetic to the aforementioned purposes
  • To foster, perpetuate, and preserve the European (Austrian-German-Swiss) Alpine social activities, cultural heritage, and customs traditionally celebrated by its members
  • To provide a social environment conducive to participation by families and individuals of all ages
  • To acquire, build and maintain shelters, houses, and other places of recreation
  • To organize hikes, camping trips, and outings
  • To build and mark trails for hiking and camping
  • To arrange meetings, social and cultural activities, and exhibitions

Branches

San Francisco

After establishing the San Francisco Nature Friends in the Mission District of San Francisco in 1912, the members quickly decided they needed a lodge outside of the city. They often took the ferry and train to Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, just north of the city across the Golden Gate, to hike on the mountain and in the recently established Muir Woods National Monument (1908).

The San Francisco and Oakland branches jointly manage Heidelmann Lodge, a mountain retreat near Donner Summit in the Sierra Nevada Mountains very close to excellent alpine and nordic ski areas such as Sugar Bowl Ski Resort and Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort.

San Francisco Nature Friends Tourist Club
30 Ridge Avenue
Mill Valley CA, 94941
Tel: 415-388-9987
Website: San Francisco Nature Friends Tourist Club
Directions
Current weather and forecast for San Francisco Nature Friends Tourist Club

Read more about the San Francisco Branch.

Los Angeles

The Los Angeles branch was founded in 1920 and has two facilities in the Los Angeles, Southern California area: a lodge and retreat center in the city of Sierra Madre, and a cabin in the San Jacinto Mountains.

Nature Friends Los Angeles
423 Yucca Trail
Sierra Madre, CA 91024
Tel: 626-355-0117
Website: Nature Friends Los Angeles
Directions
Current weather and forecast for Los Angeles Nature Friends and San Jacinto cabin

Los Angeles Branch Photos

Oakland

Oakland Nature Friends was founded in 1921 and has a lodge and member site in the Oakland hills. They are open to guests for special events and their annual festivals, which include Maifest, Biergartenfest, and Oktoberfest. See their website for dates and details about their events.

The San Francisco and Oakland branches jointly manage Heidelmann Lodge, a mountain retreat near Donner Summit in the Sierra Nevada Mountains very close to excellent alpine and nordic ski areas such as Sugar Bowl Ski Resort and Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort.

Oakland Nature Friends
3115 Butters Dr
Oakland CA, 94602 - 2632
Tel: 510-531-2930
Website: Oakland Nature Friends
Directions
Current weather and forecast for Oakland Nature Friends

Oakland Branch Photos