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!


nature trips




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.

Great hike! Day pass entry to state park is $8. This trail does NOT got past the waterfall. You have to add at least an additional 1.4 miles on moderate terrain and a couple hundred feet of incline on the Waterfall Loop Trail. This trail head is at the junction of the North Trail and Fern Canyon Trail. I think it’s totally worth the extra mileage. Popular site for local campers so best to arrive early.

over grown
4 days ago

Went June 2019 on South Trail. Many places were overgrown and fallen trees were not handled. Some places so overgrown that I could no longer see the trail. This became an issue because hikers stop using the trail and animals use the area as refuge. The were walking there and so scared to hear a growl from close by. We believe it to be a warning from the bear that has been spotted in the area.

Nice foliage on trail but muddy at times. Not crowded (June). No dogs allowed but most of trail allowed bicycles. Some elevation changes but nothing too strenuous.

I would say this trail leans toward the easy side as the ascent is very very gradual. $8 for one day parking, campsites also looked very nice. Also, near the waterfall, there is a burnt tree that is hallow and there is what I thought was a “geocache.” I picked it up ready to see everything inside of it only to find out the label said “vaca hills crematory.” I quickly put it back as gently as I could, so I’m sorry to whoever the owner of those ashes are

It’s a beautiful waterfall.

1 month ago

Great route for trail running. This is definitely a trail you can do with the family or younger children. Some parts were muddy but mostly the trail was in great condition. Lots of shade and fern growth with beautiful red woods along the entire trail. The waterfall is beautiful and the trail is punctuated with lots of nice wooden bridges.

trail running
over grown
1 month ago

If I could give this 6* for trail running, I would.

Lovely hike through redwood trees. Still a little muddy in places. The route had a few places where you had to navigate round fallen trees. We saw some lovely birds and a good variety of plants. The hike was a good length as we didn’t start too early and were still done in time for lunch.

Gorgeous hike through the Redwoods down to a beautiful waterfall. Easy hike down for the family, but a little tough for the youngest to come back out.

I hiked Fern Canyon trail and Waterfall loop. Quite beautiful. If you’re out by yourself as I was, you become aware of the utter silence around you. It’s quite peaceful. I chose to follow the waterfall path to the left. It can be difficult in places because of the incline. I feel like it’s the better approach because you first see the waterfall full on rather than from the top. There is a wood bench where I sat for a bit to take it all in. I call it Contemplation Bench. The water is crystal clear and cold. A perfect beautiful spot! The way out moves away from the water somewhat and guides you through the silent forest.

Really enjoyed this scenic hike in Mendocino. The Fern Canyon portion of the trail is very accessible and kid friendly, the elevation pitches up at the Y-junction but is still quite manageable. Definitively go to the left at the Y so you have the best views of the waterfall on the loop. Once we finished the loop we opted to come back on the North Trail instead of back down the Fern Canyon portion. This added some gain to the hike and also led to more solitude and some tremendous wildflower viewing. An all around great hike that's representative of NorCal coastal hike options

I would recommend this trail to anyone looking for lush greenery and cool weather. You will dip down into fern canyon with a mild incline into the redwoods to reach the fall. The waterfall is at its fullest durning the spring. I recommend going early in the morning to avoid the public. It can get congested later in the day. If you desire a longer hike continue the trail after the fall. But beware of mosquitoes. Pack bug spray!

BEAUTIFUL hike! We got to the waterfall, stayed a bit to enjoy the scenery and went back the way we came; skipped the loop because we didn't have time. Hiked in early April. It definitely had muddy spots, it had rained the day before, but nothing unmanageable as long as you don't mind getting dirty! More people there than expected but it didn't feel crowded.

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!

2 months ago

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

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.

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