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What comes to mind when you hear the words ‘Fern Canyon?’ A magical fairy wonderland? A green swathed valley with dinosaurs roaming? Watching Fern Gully as a child with all the magical creatures roaming the rainforest? Yep! Us, too.
Dripping fern covered canyon walls, giant trees, a meandering creek, and boardwalks all await you on this surreal hike in Northern California.
The trailhead starts right from the parking lot, however the actual canyon begins about 1/4 mile from the parking area. From the car, the trail passes through a heavily wooded area before opening up into the canyon. There are elk in the area, so be on the lookout for large, unpredictable animals with pointy antlers!
Once you reach the canyon, you will feel as though you’ve been transported back in time. As you walk, your senses are bombarded by the million drips, plops, and sounds of water cascading through the vegetation in this amazing ecosystem. The smells of moss and dew permeate the air and fills your nostrils with the heavy scent of earth. Some kid starts screaming and you imagine him being eaten by a giant T Rex lumbering down the canyon towards the sea! No, wait. You don’t imagine that. But we did. And maybe Steven Spielberg did, too, because he chose to film Jurassic Park 2 in this area. You really get the sense of being long lost in time.
The day we visited, the weather was cool and misty and there were few others there. We enjoyed climbing on the fallen trees that collect in the canyon and explored the nooks and crannies created by ages of erosion.
Home Creek burbles through the canyon for about a mile. It’s hard to imagine that this babbling little brook is responsible for creating a 50-80 foot deep chasm and a sanctuary for plants and wildlife in the redwood forest.
We carried a picnic lunch in our daypacks and found a secluded spot to sit in the crook of a tree and watch the world go by as we snacked on our meal. The creek trickled under our dangling feet as we snacked and watched birds flutter around the canyon and marveled at this incredibly lush natural wonder.
Scurrying over the huge downed trees made us feel like kids in a wilderness playground!
Every imaginable color of green exists in Fern Canyon. Not wanting to leave this idyllic location, we wandered slowly back to the car then headed out for a walk on nearby Gold Bluffs Beach. We were walking along the trail with our eyes on the ocean when to our left, the antlers of a large bull elk appeared not 20 feet from us! He had been grazing on the beach grass with his head down and we wouldn’t have even seen him if he hadn’t raised his head. We were surprised to see such a large animal so close but he just glanced at us and moseyed away like he had not a care in the world. An amazing end to our magical hike in the fairylands.
Fern Canyon is located in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in Northern California about an hour north of Trinidad, California. Travel north on Highway 101. Two miles north of Orick turn left on Davison Road. Follow the road through Elk Meadows and onto a dirt road. Travel this spectacular 6 mile scenic drive until you reach the Gold Bluffs Beach kiosk. Day use fee is $8 per vehicle, California State and National Park passes are accepted. Follow this road for 3 more miles to the parking lot. You may have to ford a couple streams in your car, but they are doable without four wheel drive most of the year.
Have you been to Fern Canyon? Share your experience in the comments below and don’t forget to share, like, and follow our blog for more adventures. Thanks for reading!