On the Mendocino coast, the air smells of salt, and the crashing waves create a continuous resonance. The tall bluffs at this spot north of San Francisco resemble the rugged shores of the east coast, but with an unmistakable California flair. Two miles north of Mendocino, Russian Gulch State Park’s collapsed sea cave cuts 200 feet into the heavily forested Russian Gulch Creek Canyon, a headland that features the Devil's Punch Bowl (a large, collapsed sea cave with churning water), and a beach that offers swimming, tide pool exploring, skin diving and rock fishing. Inland, there is a 36-foot high waterfall. Hikers enjoy miles of hiking trails. The park also has a paved three-mile bicycle trail. Devil’s Punchbowl formed when pounding waves forged an inland tunnel and left a hole 100 feet across and 60 feet deep. At high tide, boiling waves crash around the cave’s interior, producing a reverberant echo. The photogenic Frederick W. Panhorst Bridge rises gracefully 100 feet from the bottom of the gulch. The park has nearly a mile and a half of ocean frontage; its craggy beauty rivals any point along California’s coast. In the spring, the park’s foggy headlands bloom with acres of wildflowers. The climate here is temperate year-round. Winter rains and cool summer fogs that usually burn off by mid-morning provide the moisture necessary for the thriving coastal redwoods. Prepare for changeable weather by dressing in light layers.

really pretty waterfall at the half way point in the fern canyon trail. such a nice pit stop

so beautiful! lots of mushrooms, ferns, and redwoods

hiking
20 days ago

Enjoyable hike with enough elevation change to add a little challenge, especially since the recent rains have bogged it a bit. Waterfall running strong.

All in all, this was a delightful and relatively flat stroll. To correct an earlier poster, the trail to the waterfall is still *open*, although the campgrounds at Russian Gulch have closed for the season. Some of the bathrooms have also closed, but there is at least one with a flush toilet that is still open. The forest was incredibly green and lush, and the waterfall itself is delicate and beautiful now because there hasn't been much rain this season. Be careful on the wooden bridges and if you are playing around near the waterfall - the wetness in the forest can make the ground very slick!

hiking
1 month ago

The trail was closed for the season until spring. Also dogs are not permitted on the trail. They are allowed on the Headlane Trails that go along the cliffs and they are allowed on the jetty beach. $8 for a day pass parking. The Headlane Trails are beautiful and decently easy to hike. Just beware of ticks. I got one and my dog got three. Happy Trails!

This is such a pleasant hike. Super green fern heaven and ends in a beautiful waterfall. You can also just go to the waterfall and turn back. The trails are super well maintained. Decent hike all around from a workout. Not too strenuous. Kids loved it as well.

The trail was very well-maintained for this time of season. There were a couple of washed out sections but nothing bad. Good traction throughout entire trail, with a few minor mud bogs. The highlight was the beautiful beautiful scenery. We will make a point to do this hike every time we are in the area.

Good short hike through the redwoods and to the waterfall. Hiking in the rain was a unique experience and the waterfall do looks great after a good walk through the woods

hiking
3 months ago

A quite respectable fern canyon with a waterfall :)
If you're up for some more elevation, check out the North Trail on the way, as the route shows, but take that side-loop up along the North Boundary Trail (shown in blue), it gets into some strange bone-white pygmy forest.

Beautiful trail, well-maintained, few people. I would recommend this!!

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful hike with gorgeous plant life, wildlife, even newts, and a Waterfall. Loved it!

hiking
4 months ago

Gorgeous hike. Trail is narrow at times and there are some old fallen trees to get around. There weren't very many people for a weekend in Oct.

hiking
5 months ago

came from out of state to see the red woods. this was definately the way to go. beautiful scenery.

hiking
5 months ago

Very nice hike. The falls are beautiful, even in September. The first part of the trail is an old logging road, so it is still somewhat paved, but the rest is dirt. Much of the route follows the creek, so it is very lush with plenty of ferns and flowers. We hiked on a weekday and saw about 20 people total, so not a busy trail. Most people seem to take the most direct out and back route to the falls. We did a loop to add additional distance and hardly saw anyone on the secondary trails. Our favorite part of the hike was along the north trail - you have some elevation gain, but it's not difficult, and then once you are up on the hill, it is a very easy and relaxing hike through the forest.

No bugs. Well maintained trails. Lovely forest.

hiking
6 months ago

We went the first week of June and it was beautiful. It was cool in the morning an warm by the end of the hike. We went an extended route which ended up being around 8 miles. Trailheads were well marked and parking was easy. Since it's also a campground there are water fountains and bathrooms near the parking. We saw maybe 5 or 6 different groups of hikers for the firsts half to the waterfall but once we split off into the extended trail we didn't see anyone. Majority of the first 3/4 of the trail were shaded and the last fourth was intermittent shade, but it doesn't get too hot in Mendocino so it was fine - I'd just suggest to bring a bit of sunscreen. Also - use bug repellent! There were a whole-lotta mosquitos buzzing around. Also - I had it a bit easier than my SO with my waterproof hiking boots. There were a good amount of puddles and mud he had to dodge.

7 months ago

Beautiful waterfalls but path is full of stinging nettles. Spent more time trying to avoid being stung than enjoying the trail.

pretty fun trail with gorgeous forest views and an awesome waterfall midway through. shorter options available

hiking
8 months ago

Walked this trail today. Did the 2.7 one way. It was beautiful and we took kids age 4-9 with us and they did great. I did find out while there that dogs ARE NOT ALLOWED.

Amazing trail! Beautiful and almost completely shaded. I went on a day that was over 100 degrees inland, and it was an amazing 60 degrees on the trail. I was alone the majority of the trail
And just saw a couple people right at the end. A little muddy in areas, but not terrible. Loved the waterfall and even benches at the waterfall to take a break.

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