The Nature Friends was founded in Vienna, Austria in 1895 to provide members and their families with places to go and enjoy nature and encourage the study of nature related subjects. The Club soon spread throughout Europe and many lodges and clubhouses were built, usually in forests, ski areas or close to wilderness areas.
In 1912, a group of Nature Friends living in the San Francisco Bay area decided to buy land overlooking what is now Muir Woods. Their first American clubhouse was built in 1914. Members who pulled materials and supplies up the hillside, did all the work. Branches were founded in Los Angeles in 1920 and in Oakland in 1921.
In Los Angeles, Nature Friends members, some of whom were immigrants from Germany and Hungary, began building our clubhouse in Sierra Madre in 1920, was finished in 1923 and inaugurated in 1924. The original building had only two stories. A dance hall was added in 1927. It is located in a secluded canyon in the beautiful foothills of the Little Santa Anita (Sierra Madre) canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains. Today, the Sierra Madre site is not only home for the club, but also a nature sanctuary, retreat center, community resource and welcoming garden. Our mountain cabin in the San Jacinto Mountains, above Palm Springs near Idyllwild was finished in 1937. Members also did the work. It is one of the most wonderfully located of all Nature Friends cabins.
Today, Nature Friends International is a non-profit confederation of hikers, climbers and others who love the outdoors. Most branches built and maintain at least one local clubhouse. There are clubhouses in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Denmark, Great Britain, Spain, Mexico and California. The house range from the rustic, to the few hotel like in atmosphere. Each club operates independently.
Although Nature Friends are conservationists, the organization is non-political. Its members now come from a variety of international backgrounds, ages, nationalities and races. Discrimination of any kind is against the policies of the Club. Joining Nature Friends is like joining a large and diverse family, with common bonds of appreciation of the outdoors. In California, we are a non-profit organization
Our activities include hikes, excursions around the Southern California area, socials, picnics, festivals and scheduled weekends at our San Jacinto Mountains cabin, holiday banquets and some camping trips.