Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods SP
etting to Fern Canyon takes a bit of work, but you’ll be glad you did. From Highway 101 at Orick, drive unpaved Davison Road 10 miles to this a hidden paradise of ferns lining a narrow gorge carved out by Home Creek in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Some of the seven different types of ferns clinging to the steep cliffs are ancient species, with ancestry tracing back 325 million years. Living underneath their leafy shade are some eye-catching amphibians, including Pacific giant salamanders, which can measure nearly a foot long.
The trail to Fern Canyon follows a series of small footbridges (installed in summer) deep into the canyon. Drooping ferns create hanging gardens, miniature waterfalls pour down rock faces, and moss wallpapers every surface. The walls grow taller and squeeze tighter as you travel.
If you think this looks familiar, it’s probably because you saw the Steven Spielberg movie, Jurassic Park II, which includes a scene filmed within this canyon. Every curve and turn leads to another amazing view. Far too soon, the trail curves left and ascends out of the canyon, then loops back to the parking lot. More than a few Fern Canyon hikers choose to retrace their steps instead of continuing on the loop—it’s just too hard to leave this special place (and it is only a one-mile loop trail).
NOTE: It’s wet on this trail. When hiking Fern Canyon, river sandals or waterproof boots are highly recommended.
DURING WINTER MONTHS:
Before venturing out, check for road and trail conditions throughout Redwood National and State Parks at three park visitor center locations:
Current road and trail conditions: See Park Website.
This level trail of about one mile follows Home Creek as it courses through the forest. This modest stream has over the eons carved a deep (50 to 80 feet) canyon through the sedimentary soils. The vertical walls sprout an amazing variety of ferns (five different kinds) and other moisture-loving plants and mosses. Depending on the time of year, there is a constant drip-drip of water trickling down the canyon walls.
DURING WINTER MONTHS:
Foot bridges are installed over the creek to make this trail easier (and dryer), but it is generally passable year-round if one is nimble and can tolerate getting damp. You can hike into the canyon and back, or continue on to a trail/stairway that climbs out of the canyon. At the top, turn left to return along the canyon rim, with fine views into the canyon and other interesting sights. A verdant prairie is the site of a former mining camp from the days when Gold Bluffs Beach was, in fact, mined for gold dust (a venture that was never very profitable).
Plan B: Fern Canyon can be reached by a moderate five-mile hike on the James Irvine Trail, beginning at the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park visitor center.
- Kocher Visitor Center, just off Hwy. 101 south of Orrick, CA
- ]Prairie Creek Visitor Center located along Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway
- Houthi Visitor Center along Hwy. 199 just west of Houthi, CA
- These visitor centers are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Directions to Fern Canyon:
- From Hwy 101, drive approx. 2 mile north of Orick to Davison Road and turn left. .
- Follow through Elk Meadow and onto dirt road (motorhomes and trailers are not allowed on this road). Follow this spectacular scenic drive for 6 miles until you reach the Gold Bluffs Beach kiosk. Pay the $8.00 day use fee (cash or check only). California State Park and National Park Service passes are accepted.
- Follow the road along the beach for another 3 miles (fording through several small streams — do-able by car) until the parking lot at the end.
- The trailhead to Fern Canyon is there, about 1/4 mile from the actual start of the canyon.
SPECIAL NOTICE: After rains, hikes into the canyon can be limited. Call 707-488-2039 for detailed info.
Location: Prairie Creek Redwoods SP, Davision Rd. to Gold Bluffs Beach, Gold Bluffs Beach, CA | Tel: (707) 465-7354 |
Eureka California Outdoor Activities Guide
Hotels In Eureka California:
About Eureka Town House Motel
The Town House Motel – Historic Old Town Eureka, is located on the scenic Northern California Coast, home to the world’s tallest redwood trees and miles of stunning coastline. Conveniently located in downtown Eureka, the The Eureka Town House Motel is near historic Old Town, a National Historic District possessing some of the most spectacular Victorian architecture in the nation. The Morris Graves Museum of Art is a few blocks away from the Motel. Humbolt Redwoods State Park, home to the largest contiguous redwood forest in the nation, is 40 miles to the south.
Rooms feature free Wi-Fi and wired internet; wall mounted flat-screen TVs with DISH satellite service and 9 HBO channels. Rooms are equipped with refrigerators, microwaves, and coffee makers. Covered parking is free and dogs are welcome – and ALL calls in the 48 US contiguous states are FREE (local, 1+ and 800).
Town House Motel is rated for the best value in Eureka! Guests get more for their money when compared to other hotels in Eureka. As a result, we have been a top TripAdvisor hotel for years and work very hard to earn your trust and maintain that status. Take a few moments to read our Guest Reviews and see what others have to say.