Fern Canyon Loop Trail

EASY 128 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.

5 days ago

hiking
17 days 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
24 days ago

hiking
1 month 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!

1 month 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
1 month ago

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

hiking
1 month 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
2 months ago

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

walking
2 months ago

Super dope when it's sunny

hiking
2 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.

2 months ago

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

hiking
2 months ago

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

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

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

hiking
3 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.

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

walking
3 months ago

Favorite according to the kids.