Fern Canyon Loop Trail is a 1.1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Orick, California that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
1.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
118 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

kid friendly

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

waterfall

wildlife

muddy

scramble

no dogs

Fern Canyon is a surrealistic and amazing display of primal ferns growing in a narrow 50-foot-deep vertical walled canyon. The floor is nearly all creek bed which helps provide a contrast of water, gravel, stumps and downed trunks. Fern Canyon was used for several scenes in the movie Jurassic Park 2: Lost Worlds (1997) and the BBC series Walking with Dinosaurs (2000) for very good reason. Expect slow going in the canyon. At least 5 species of fern and dozens of other plant species create an overload of color, shape, and texture. Add to the sensory mix a combination of light climbing over logs, ankle deep creek crossings, little animal surprises (amphibians and in one spot, millions of centipedes), a total lack of modern sounds (if it's not a busy day), birds, insect noises, the breeze through the trees...overall, it is an amazing experience. Drive or hike in. Hiking will make a day trip of it or if you prefer to spend the weekend, there are a number of camping options, Driving in to the park is a small adventure in itself. The road in is largely unpaved but is suitable for 2 w/d cars. These old dirt roads provide a far better visceral experience than paved streets in these forests. But be careful - the road can be narrow and has plenty of blind curves. The final leg of the road traces the coast between the narrow coastal plains and bluffs. It provides access to beach camping and several additional trail heads. Expect 2 or 3 shallow creek crossings on the way in to the canyon. The park is designated as a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve. The park's tree cover primarily consists of old-growth coast redwood, hemlock and Douglas fir. Sitka spruce and Red Alder provide additional forest cover. Because of frequent coastal fogs, the forest understory vegetation can get very lush and dense. Tan oaks, cascara, maples and California bay can be found on edges and grassland spaces. Western azalea and rhododendron bloom in May and June and offer bright accents and pops of color to the dense green of the forest.

hiking
28 days ago

Love love love this place! This time of year there were hardly anyone, very peaceful.

1 month ago

Great hike

hiking
1 month ago

LOVE! You have to do this! We went and there was nobody there and it was gorgeous :)

hiking
1 month ago

Came here on a Wednesday @2pm. becomes "off road" about 3 miles before the trail head. Unfortunately, my scion xb wouldn't make it to the head (due to "creek" more like puddle) all the way so we parked about a little over a mile before getting to the head. My friend and I didn't mind at all, it made the hike a little longer. The actual hike was beautiful, where good shoes, and take a camera. :)

hiking
2 months ago

10/1/18
If you want to mix it up from just viewing Redwood trees I’d say this is a must do. While there were footbridges in place, and well placed rocks/logs, just plan on getting your feet wet. The trail makes a loop and returns via the forest on top of the canyon but I think most people do it as an out and back through the canyon as that’s the most interesting part. It’s a bit of a drive on a winding gravel road through the trees to get here, and it’s a day use fee area (unless you have a parks pass or other), but it’s worth it for this hike and the secluded stretch of coast.

hiking
3 months ago

Just an amazing hike with every step a picture perfect opportunity. Very family friendly but like others have mentioned, water shoes or waterproof hiking boots are a good idea. Don’t go in a hurry, and enjoy natures artwork.

hiking
3 months ago

So beautiful! A must see!

4 months ago

Beautiful, peaceful, easy hike! Well worth the drive back to the trailhead. My husband and I did this hike at 0900 and were the only ones around. Wear waterproof shoes/sandals as your feet will get wet. They filmed a scene from The Lost World Jurassic Park here if that excites you as well.

4 months ago

Astoundingly beautiful, even though well trafficked. Easy, even for older, less active folks. I suggest water shoes, you'll get your ankles wet unless you can cross the shallow river/creek on a log (easily done if you have someone with you to hold your hand). So worth the drive on a very narrow, sometimes dirt road riddled with blind turns. Loved it!

4 months ago

amazing to hike such great sights!

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful. Great short hike. Only downsides are that access is 8 miles down a bumpy dirt road, and there are a lot of people. At least 30 cars in the parking lot for a 1-mile loop hike.

4 months ago

Fun area! Little crowded but so worth the sites!

4 months ago

beautiful a must see easy hike except to get wet feet

hiking
4 months ago

Gorgeous fern canyon, lush and moist.
Super easy hike, try to go early or late as it tends to attract large groups and families. Well worth the crowds though. It’s a unique canyon.

5 months ago

Interesting mostly because you are hopping on rocks and logs most of the time. Recommend wearing flip flops or wellies, not hiking shoes.

5 months ago

Go early and you’ll have entire trail to yourself

5 months ago

Short but gorgeous trail. Shoes got wet as most of the trail is through a river at the bottom of the canyon (ankle-deep water)

6 months ago

Loved it hiking and camping and fishing was the best!

6 months ago

Loved it. Hike was easy but wet. It feels like you stepped back in time entering the canyon. Definitely work seeing.

hiking
6 months ago

The canyon is tall and green. It is a must see. Makes me feel like jurassic park. Bring tall wader boots or plan to get wet. If it has rained then you might not be able to even get there. The road is a bit of a challenge if there is bad weather. It might close.

hiking
6 months ago

This trail was beautiful! We went at the end of March on a rainy day and the trail was flooded with water. We ended up taking our shoes off and hiking barefoot but the surroundings made it absolutely with it!

hiking
7 months ago

Absolutely stunning! It's best to go early in the morning because it can get a bit crowded. Bring water sandals or an extra pair of shoes because your feet are gonna get wet! Not really a hike, more of a scenic walk. There's often elk around the parking lot too.

hiking
7 months ago

Beauty abounds in this magical place. Getting your feet wet is pretty unavoidable but well worth it!

7 months ago

Don’t miss this if you are in the area.
I took James Irvine trail to Fern Canyon which was about 4.5miles one way. Once in the Fern Canyon Hike along the creek to get the full experience, your feet will get wet but well worth it. Feels like you are in a prehistoric movie set. I was there for 30mins without meeting a soul. I am sure it will get more crowded in the summer.

7 months ago

ķ

hiking
8 months ago

Get your feet wet. Hike over logs.

hiking
8 months ago

Beautiful hike. We did this last March. Glad we hiked in water shoes and shorts, as a good stretch of it we hiked right in the creek. Loved all the elk in the area.

hiking
9 months ago

If you are in Northern California, this is a MUST. A very easy but extremely beautiful and magical experience. You will feel like you're in Jurassic Park. If going in the Spring, may want to consider wear waterproof boots! Your feet will surely get a tad or two wet.

backpacking
9 months ago

This is where part of Star Wars was filled. Felt like an alien planet. Beautiful and mysterious.
Saw many bull elk while hiking. Not to be messed with.
Loved the place.

hiking
9 months ago

Saw tons of elk. Nice easy hike.

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