Fern Canyon at
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
The Fern Canyon trail leads through a narrow gorge with moisture dripping from 50 to 80 feet high cliffs completely covered with ferns and moss. Some ancient fern species can trace their ancestry back hundreds of millions of years. Perhaps that’s why Fern Canyon was a featured location in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World and the BBC series Walking with Dinosaurs.
Under the shade of these ferns you may even catch a glimpse of some noteworthy amphibians such as the pacific giant salamander measuring up to a foot in length or perhaps a northern red-legged frog.
The trail follows Home Creek through the forest for about one mile. It is mostly clear with the only hindrance being the creek as it snakes it’s way over the canyon floor and some occasional downed trees. The walls become higher and the gorge narrows as you make your way into the canyon. During summer months, foot bridges are installed over the creek to make the trail easier (and dryer), but it is generally passable year-round. You can expect to get your feet wet or at least damp so be sure to bring along appropriate foot ware.
There is an $8 day use fee to enter the park however California State and National Park Service passes are accepted.
Restrooms are available at the parking lot. Note that dogs are not allowed on the trails at Prairie Creek Redwood State Park.
How to Get There:
- From Highway 101 turn left on Davison Road about 2 miles north of Orick
- Pass through Elk Meadow and continue on to the dirt road that is suitable for 2 wheel drive cars. Note that vehicles with trailers or motor homes are prohibited. The 6 mile drive is quite scenic and the dirt road just adds to the forest atmosphere. Exercise care as the road can become narrow with a number of blind spots along the way. When you reach the Gold Bluffs Beach entrance booth you can pay your day use fee.
- Follow the road for another 3 miles until you reach the parking lot at the end. Note the road can be a bit rough in spots and you’ll travel through several shallow streams, however the road is passable by car. The trail head is accessed from the parking lot.