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Trail/Time of Year: Fern Canyon to Falls Loop during February 2018 and July 2018

Parking: Pay for parking (less than $10). Parking at the trailhead is very competitive every time we go. Many people walk in from further parking options (.25-.5 miles).

Terrain: Flat near the beginning. Entire trail is shaded. Most of the trail fits three people side-by-side comfortably. Approaching the waterfall the trail does thin and you will have to practice trail sharing etiquette. We seem to run into some mud at the start no matter what time of year we go. Short up and down changes in elevation as you near the waterfall. Left fork has maybe 3 short sets of stairs and is .7 miles. Right fork is 1.6 miles (we haven’t taken the right fork yet).

Child friendly: We believe so – although we take our kids hiking often and they know what to expect. We took our 3, 5, and 9-year-old and all walked the entire trail with some breaks. There was some complaining near the end and they fell asleep 5 minutes later on the drive home. No steep cliffs and the water is very shallow - do not let kids play at the top of the waterfall where it is slippery and a dangerous fall. Bring lots of waters and snacks and ensure the kids do not litter.

Modern Conveniences: Benches near mid-trail with bike rack. Bathroom at start of trail.

Humidity/Temperature: Temperate. Mid 50s during winter. Low 60s to 70s during other months.

Water Consumption: Bring lots of water. The trail isn’t dry or hot but it is long. If you have LifeStraw or similar product you will have constant access to water.

Trail Traffic: We typically run into people every 20-30 minutes depending on the day of the week. Everyone is very friendly and all just seem happy to be enjoying nature. You will typically find pairs or small groups of people at the waterfall. People tend to stop and eat here.

Cleanliness/maintenance: Occasional napkin on the side of the trail. We have never seen plastic bottles or cans which always gives us hope that people are decent. We have seen cigarette butts at the waterfall. If you are a smoker, wait until you leave the park to smoke. Trail is well-maintained by park staff.

Wildlife: Birds. Frogs. Lizards. We found one Gartner snake out of three separate hikes. Found a banana slug, lots of butterflies, mosquitoes, etc. Bring bug spray.

Plantlife: They call this trail Fern Canyon for a reason. Wild raspberry plants along the first half of the trail. Remember that the wildlife depends on these for food. Also remember that lots of berries + no toilets = unpleasant hike. TONS of mushrooms of several types during the rainy months – on the trail, trees, stumps, etc. Very few mushrooms during the drier months.

Landmarks: Russian Gulch Waterfall which is 36ft tall and nearly as wide. We have noticed that the waterfall has a stronger flow during the rainy season but is always flowing regardless of season. Small pool of water at base of waterfall that is too shallow to swim. Russian Gulch creek which runs along the entire trail. Trees growing out of stumps of other trees. Fallen redwoods that you can walk across (lead nowhere and not required).

Despite the throngs of people at the trailhead car park (Saturday 9 am) this was actually a reasonably quiet loop. I’m quite a fast hiker and completed it in just under 4 hours. If you are used to hiking or are otherwise fit,, you will probably agree that it is pretty easy terrain (though there are warning signs about its difficulty, so it’s important, as always, to really know your ability). Pretty views out to the sea (probably shrouded in fog in winter). The falls are not all that big, but are pretty. Diverse views and ecosystems. Definitely talk to one of the excellent staff rangers when you go in as they can give very clear instructions about how to start (I suggest counter-clockwise) in a way that is not obvious on the all trails or the paper map. I will definitely return and do this as a trail run! A warning: by 1 pm the car park was packed and rows of cars were waiting. Strongly encourage weekday or v early starts!

on Sequoia Trail

9 days ago

Half the trail is by the road , but the other half is a beautiful walk in the forest. There has a big hill you need to climb to complete the loop, but other than that incline was pretty mild.

It’s nice beautiful trees

9 days ago

I hiked this in April 2017. I loved being surrounded by the large sequoia trees. Nice trail, some hills but overall I found it to be a peaceful and tranquil hike. Very heavily forested with a nice waterfall.

12 days ago

Nice, but more hyped up than imagined. Just about every hike in the area is similar unless you go far, and you can only look at the same tall trees so long before getting bored. California has many other, more exciting hikes, but if in SFO area, this is a decent area. Pain that you need to book in advance, bit keeps crowds of tourists out.

Went in summer so it was 90° hot and the waterfalls were quite lacking in water. Still overall pretty interesting hike.

Was there early September 2018 and there was no waterfall at the triple fall. It was all dried up. Overall, the hike was fairly easy.


Gorgeous hike without a lot people on the trail.

21 days ago

I was underwhelmed. Parking is a hassle and you have to pay ahead and come during your designated time slot. You can only see so many giant trees and the trails are a bit too manicured and landscaped to feel like an actual hike.

on Berry Creek Falls Loop

23 days ago

Bring water and look out for banana slugs! Great hike.

25 days ago

Really great hike! One of the best around. Only saw a few people on the trail and there is plenty of shade! We went in the morning and it was the perfect time. Saw some deer and a banana slug (watch out for them crossing the trail!) Most tourists do not usually hike and just check out the visitor center and around it. I recommend reserving parking in advance online, which is really all you have to worry about when going to Muir Woods.

Fern canon is as beautiful as it gets. We were the only people on the hike until near the end but we did go early on a Thursday. The falls were beautiful. Moderate hike as it says.

Loved seeing the Big Red trees. Took the path leading up the hill. great little hike. 1st time had to park like a mile away... so get there early.

28 days ago

I hiked this trail for the first time in January and was so inspired by the beauty, I hiked the loop a second time. Definitely tired after 2 loops, but followed it by a great meal at BooKoo in Mill Valley. I’ve returned three times since because the trail views are lovely. In the summer, the amphitheater is used for live theater so we planned a day around it: We watched Mama Mia and then hiked...very fun. I felt safe hiking it alone, but use your own discretion.

29 days ago

Started early and by the time we reached it was around 7:15 am and cold. Very few cars were parked due to the cold I guess. Found initially little confusing where the trail started and took us some time to get on the trail. As per the review I read by lots of hikers we wanted to do the anti clock wise hike but came across a detour sign asking us the go on the clock wise direction. We ended up doing that and did not encounter any one until we reached the falls and decided to try the other side to get back to the parking when saw few people coming from the counter clockwise side of the trail. There was no issue with the trail not sure why they had put a detour sign. Took 5 1/2 hrs for us to finish the trail.

So gorgeous! Tough hike but a good one!

I took the advice here and went early, parking lot at 8 and also took the trail counter clockwise
I only saw three peoples going down and lots of birds! At the falls it began to seem like a freeway but still very beautiful and cool on a hot day.
Took me a little over 4 1/2 hours - I’m older and moderately fit.
Would totally recommend this hike.
Also bring $10 cash if you get there before the park opens to pay for parking - I didn’t have change so then for $20 from me.

Great hike. There are some hills so would not recommend for true beginner, but relatively easy overall and the scenery is continuously breathtaking. Cool breezes are a plus, too.

Enjoyed this trail a lot! We went early but it was still very busy. We took some of the trails off of Muir Woods and thoroughly enjoyed it!

coming from Ohio, it was a game changer

Great trail, well marked. The falls are wonderful.

I do this hike every year and it’s amazing! If you park a car at the beach you can go all the way thru instead of a loop.

Strenuous but great! Really beautiful waterfalls

My wife and I hiked up trail #1 and then #8 and #9. Overall we hiked about 6.5 miles. Very beautiful and relaxing hike, some of the trail was what I would consider a moderate slope, but nothing too hard. I pushed our 2 year old daughter in a jogging stroller the entire time and there was some uphill portions that were a little strenuous but overall great hike. Saw a lot of joggers, bikers, and hikers. Worth the trip to Arcata to hike!

Great hike among the beautiful redwoods. There are a couple of trail closures so check with the park ranger first. Trail is mostly shaded. The last hill was challenging, so we rewarded ourselves with ice cream at the park store.

My wife and I enjoyed this trail. The trail was being renovated about 3 miles in so our hike turned into a 6.5 mile hike. I love walking among the California Redwoods. I reserve the 5 star rating for something that blows me away but I highly recommend this trail to anyone in the area of Arcadia California.

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