Looking for a great trail in Russian Gulch State Park, California? AllTrails has 6 great hiking trails, walking trails, forest trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Ready for some activity? There are 5 moderate trails in Russian Gulch State Park ranging from 3.8 to 6.2 miles and from 19 to 564 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!

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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.

We ended up taking the Fern Canyon trail to the North Trail on our way back from the Waterfall. We love adding in as many steps as we can! Much better than taking the asphalt trail on Fern. North Trail is quite a bit longer but totally worth it. There’s a small elevation climb for the first 1/2 mile or so but when you reach the top of the mountain it’s fairly smooth sailing. There’s a few muddy spots but nothing you can’t jump over...or better yet, just get dirty! Enjoy!

We started out on the Fern Canyon trail then took the Falls Loop trail. Some sections were muddy and wet, but if you’re wearing hiking boots it isn’t an issue.

There were plenty of flowers and lots of new, curly fern growth to admire. I enjoyed the Falls Loop trail the most because it followed along the creek. Trickling water, birds chirping, butterflies flitting, wind in the tree tops. It’s heavenly! Just pick a trail and go!

We started out on the Fern Canyon trail then took the Falls Loop trail. Some sections were muddy and wet, but if you’re wearing hiking boots it isn’t an issue. We weren’t huge fans on hiking the asphalt on the Fern Trail, just doesn’t feel natural!

We did the Fern Canyon trail to the North Trail on the way back- because we like a challenge! The first section of the North Trail had a few uphill switch backs but wasn’t too bad, it then leveled off when you got to the top of the mountain and was pretty easy the remainder of the way. We ended up doing about 8 miles, according to my phone.

There were plenty of flowers and lots of new, curly fern growth to admire. I enjoyed the Falls Loop trail the most because it followed along the creek. Trickling water, birds chirping, butterflies flitting, wind in the tree tops. It’s heavenly! Just pick a trail and go!

hiking
muddy
18 days ago

Tied this trail on to the end of the North Trail hike. Fantastic little loop.

we did a walk from the beach parking lot, to the north trail, to the waterfall and looped back to the cars along the creek. I like the trail beside the creeks best, most of our walk was in the forest. the steep uphill at the start of the north trail was a good workout, once we got up high on the ridge it was pretty level walking for two miles.

Nice hike...moss growing on trees, nice trail.. muddy in a couple of places...beautiful waterfall!

Super easy and pretty nice. A little sloshy from the event rains

This trail went above the fern trail and was nice but didn’t provide much extra

A bit mushy from the recent rains that just stopped yesterday, but still enjoyable!

Nice mix of moist woodland shade in the canyon, a pretty waterfall, and Pygmy forest on the sunny ridge. Nicely maintained. Some trees down after February storms, easily passable. Three hours with lunch and photo stops. We did it in the rain - very pleasant in rain gear.

Great hike even by rainy day

Walked from Caspar RV and back- 25 kms- via the lighthouse on the way home. The waterfall loop is up and down but quite beautiful. After the loop we added on the North Trail home, just for exercise and a change of route. Out and back is ok but loops are better.

November 2018 - We hiked the semi paved 2.0 mile bike section (4 mile round trip) in heavy rain and enjoyed the trek. The hiking surface held up wet and we even encountered 5 sets of hikers along the way. If it’s raining and you want a nice hike, then this trail is for you.

Great trail! Well maintained

GO IN TO THE PARK! The GPS directions will take you to a private road.

Super quick walk to the sinkhole, and beautiful views from the cliffs.

Great views and nice trail!

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).

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).

Serene redwood-lined trail; very easy to hike with just a bit of an uphill climb at the start. Highly recommended!

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.

We did the Fern trail going in ad returned on the North trail. The water fall is amazing and worth the hike. The North trail is challenging at first but then is pretty flat and down hill after all the up parts. Very green and we had a great time

Great little hike. I didn't feel it was quite moderate and I'm not a super fit person so that was a pleasant suprise because I was a little hesitant. took us an hour and 50 minutes to complete. we went early so not any traffic on the way but after leaving the fall more people were coming so I recommend an early hike. Such a beautiful trail and scenery. There had been a bear sighting only 1 month prior so I was freaked out a bit because of the posted signs but we were prepared.

Great trail. lots of elevation changes. Wet in the winter but that only makes it more interesting

Great hike!

Breathtaking views at every turn. We saw a family of otters swimming and taking shelter in a cave. Go, just go!

Hiked mid-May 2018. Arrived after 2pm and got a spot by trail head for free but that is lucky. Mostly flat for first two miles and very pretty.

Signage is decent but a number of people we came upon said they were unsure of where they were going. The falls are great and a must-see. The remainder of the loop after the falls leads to a whole different terrain. Overall a good walk but if you are in pretty good shape not too challenging. If in average shape this is a good workout.

Nice hike. Crazy number of rhododendrons in spring.

Completed this on June 11th. So much green! I came at sunrise and there was no one on the trail at all. I paid 8 bucks at the entrance of the park for parking

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