OverviewPrarie Creek Redwoods State Park in Northern California just off of Highway 101. Several different types of ferns hang from the canyon walls that rise between 40-100 above your head as you meander along this pleasant hike. Eroded away by what used to be an ancient riverbed is now just a small creek running through this canyon. But don't worry you won't have to get your feet wet during the summer. One can easily see with the natural beauty and one-of-a-kindness of this canyon why Steven Spielberg chose this as a site to film Jurassic Park 2. Small footbridges line the bottom of the canyon to help ease your way across the creek, but I feel that they do not take away from the gloriousness of it. Even "real" canyoneers, I imagine would appreciate the uniqueness of Fern Canyon. There is more than just the canyon that makes this a great day trip. On the way just after you have made the turnoff to drive the 9 miles to the parking lot there is wide open meadows where a large herd of Elk are usually hanging around. About 6 miles in there is a beach that you can hang out at as well.
Overall length and elevation gain of this canyon is approximately 150 feet elevation gain over about 3/4 of a mile.
Getting ThereSouth Approach: If coming from South Highway 101, drive about 2 miles north of the town of Orick (about 40 miles north of Eureka) and take a left onto Davison Road, drive through Elk Meadow and off of the paved road for about 6 miles to Gold Bluffs Beach, continue 3 more miles (this is the portion where you have to cross the streams in your car) until you reach the large gravel parking lot about 1/4 of a mile before you are in fern canyon. You will pass the fee station along the road to the parking lot.
North Approach: If coming from North Highway 101 drive south of Crescent City for about 40 miles. Keep an eye out for the Elk viewing area and take a right on to Davison Road, and continue on following the above directions. If you have arrived in the town of Orick you have driven too far. In that case, backtrack and follow the above directions.
Red TapeSince Fern Canyon is located in a State Park, there is a manned day use fee station on your way in to the hike. Fee currently is $6 year round.
8' Wide and/or 24' Long Vehicles restricted
No harrassing wildlife (other than your hiking partner)
When to hike?Summer - Access to fern canyon is pretty easy with a passenger car, on the way to the hike you will have to splash through a couple of streams with your car, but you shouldn't have any problems. I didn't and I have a corolla. I would bring a warm layer since you are on the coast and it can be cold and wet just about any time of the year.
Winter - Although I have not visited in Winter, I imagine that the streams you cross in your car could possibly pose a problem due to higher levels. So I would probably save this one for a higher clearance vehicle. Also, the creek that runs through the canyon will most likely be higher, so expect to get your feet a little wet if you choose to do it.
CampingGold Bluffs Beach Campground is located 6 miles in along the road to fern canyon.
To Reach the State Parks dial: 707-464-6101 ext. 5301