Fern Canyon Loop Trail

EASY 163 reviews

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
4 days 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
9 days 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
21 days 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
26 days ago

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

1 month 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.

1 month ago

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hiking
1 month ago

Get your feet wet. Hike over logs.

hiking
2 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
3 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
3 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
3 months ago

Saw tons of elk. Nice easy hike.

hiking
3 months ago

Although I'm a much bigger fan of moderate / hard rated trails, this trail will always be a true favorite. It is most definitely an easy trail so it's perfect for anyone! Thankfully even my baby sister agrees to "hike" this trail with me, which makes for wonderful family exploring time.

And there's truly nothing more majestic! You drive through groves of trees, along the ocean, park, and walk up to the canyon's grand entrance - see the pictures I've uploaded if you don't believe me!

You hike through the entirety of the canyon of ferns, up and out through more groves of trees, and back down to the entrance of the canyon before retreating to your vehicle. Although it's short, you can spend as much time as you want in the canyon, which is always my preference.

If you want a hike that's simple and allows time for reflection, then this hike is perfect for you and your loved ones.

4 months ago

This is a fun little loop. If you don’t want to get super wet, you can ninja your way thru most of it without having to get too deep...but, there are a few points where you really just have to go for it. Waterproof boots, above the ankles for those who aren’t into getting wet. My wife and I loved this one. Stop often and take in your surroundings. It’s likely you’ve never seen anything like it before.

hiking
5 months ago

There was lot of water when we had been there. Since it rained a lot a day before we went there. There were about 3 water streams which our car had to pass to get to the fern canyon trailhead. Since our car was not SUV, we decided to park right before the first stream and walk one more mile before reaching the actual trailhead. Fern canyon was pretty amazing, we walked to the end of the trail in the water running like river. It was so much fun!! If anyone is visiting it in recent 2 days, don't try to save your shoes, no matter what you are going to get wet! :)

hiking
6 months ago

Beautiful canyon to see Maiden Hair Ferns that require hiking up a shallow river. This is a very short trail so continue on to one of the connecting trails for a longer hike is a must!

6 months ago

Check for park closures and road closures before you arrive. Tried to drive up after the rain today for a day hike in Fern Canyon and the 4.0 mi steep and windy dirt road looked very slippery and muddy and washed out. Campground and trail to Gold bluff beach said closed. We decided to turn back rather than get stuck.

hiking
6 months ago

What a great hike. even though we got wet. It rained the day before so had some waterfalls flowing.

hiking
7 months ago

The road up here was very bumpy and we crossed two creeks. My Nissan Sentra was able to make it through without too much trouble. The trail took us about an hour and a half to complete. We stopped a ton to take photos of the views.

If you just want to see the fern canyon walls, you'll have to cross a creek and they're right at the start of the trail about 5ish minutes from parking.

Theres a well-sized tree you'll have to either climb over or crouch walk under. Without good waterproof shoes, and proper hiking gear, I wouldn't consider the first fifteen to thirty minutes as an "easy" hiking trail.

It was, however, well worth everything. Very gorgeous.

hiking
7 months ago

The fern walls are really cool. It's def worth the drive down.

walking
7 months ago

Super dope when it's sunny

hiking
7 months ago

One of the most beautiful hike you can stroll through in Red Canyon. Its a bit challenging because you would have to cross over trees, river banks, rocks, muds, etc. You get the point. The view of the Fern Canyons are spectacular! They are like gardens hanging of the wall.

7 months ago

Really enjoyed the beautiful scenery... felt like we were in Jurassic Park & Star Wars!

hiking
8 months ago

It was an amazing hike, just beautiful. I would hike it again.

hiking
8 months ago

short, gorgeous. we did the loop but getting over the giant log is difficult. have a really tall guy with you!

hiking
8 months ago

This was really beautiful and I definitely recommend!

Be sure to bring cash for the $8 self register. The road to Fern Canyon is bumping, unpaved, narrow at certain points and dusty. My Nissan Versa did just fine. After passing the Gold Bluffs campgrounds there is a stream that you can cross and the trail head is a mile up the road. There are bathrooms in the parking lot.

walking
9 months ago

Favorite according to the kids.

Amazing! So lush and green. I loved the walls of ferns.

hiking
9 months ago

Stunning -- a must-see!!!

9 months ago

This trail is so beautiful. Well the loop trail is closed but just follow the creek through the fern canyon. If you are adventurous keep going up the creek and climb over all the obstacles. You will come to a small waterfall on your left that is quite pretty. We are a family of six. My kids were in heaven. Important tip- We all wore muck boots and it made the trail much easier. Could have sold them to almost anyone on the trail too. ;). If you end up doing the trail in tennis shoes- just plan on getting them wet. There are board bridges but you are still going to get wet. The moss, ferns, creek and even fallen trees make this an I forgettable hike. My kids (who hike often) said it was THE BEST HIKE EVER! We loved it.

9 months ago

This was a great hike! The tall walls of ferns were so unique and the stony river bed was lovely. The hike was very easy. We saw elk and banana slugs, two things we hoped to see while in the area. Be warned, there is an 8 mile drive on an un-paved road to arrive at the parking lot as well as areas where the water streams across the path. We made it through in a mustang so it's doable but nerve racking. Worth it.

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