Fern Canyon North and South Trail Loop

MODERATE 155 reviews

Fern Canyon North and South Trail Loop is a 5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Mendocino, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from April until October.

Distance: 5.0 miles Elevation Gain: 734 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

forest

partially paved

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

no dogs

Great trail, nice variety of landscapes. Some muddy spots but nothing impassable

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.

hiking
over grown
2 months 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.

hiking
3 months ago

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

hiking
muddy
3 months ago

This trail was quite nice. For most of the North trail, there were pine needles and pieces of bark on the path, making the trail soft and bouncy, not so hard on the knees. The south trail is mostly paved. Along the entire trail there are beautiful trees and ferns. Shaded, scenic, not too steep. Nice and cool in June.

running
over grown
3 months ago

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

hiking
5 months ago

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!

hiking
muddy
6 months ago

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

hiking
6 months ago

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

hiking
muddy
7 months ago

Monday, September 17, 2018

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

hiking
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

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

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Nice hike. Crazy number of rhododendrons in spring.

hiking
Monday, May 28, 2018

Amazing trail. We took it from the campsite all the way to the beginning of the fall loop -- and after the fall loop we took Fern Canyon Trail (wide, paved) back to the campsite. North Trail -- not to be confused with North Road, although the two trails intersect up on the ridge -- is a beautifully graded single track, very quiet and peaceful. It climbs the hillside from the campsite area all the way to a ridge, then it follows the ridge on a level course and finally descends on wide switchbacks to a junction with Fern Canyon Trail. Turn L to go towards Fall Loop.

hiking
Saturday, May 19, 2018

Gorgeous trail and loved the changes in terrain. We followed Nicole Zanni’s advice and took the North Trail, to the North Boundary, to the East Trail, to Fern Canyon. We were moving pretty quick and it took 2.5 hours.

hiking
Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Beautiful trail. A little elevation at the beginning but you reach the top pretty quickly. I recommend starting out on the North Trail then connect to the North Boundary Trail. You get to see a really crazy looking Pygmy forest. Jump off at the East Trail then connect to Fern Canyon which takes you to the top of the waterfalls. Beautiful! If you finish the hike continuing on Fern Canyon it’ll be a 6.75 mile hike. Really pretty with lots of different vegetation in a short amount of time.

hiking
Wednesday, May 02, 2018

One of the best trails! #Redwoods

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

so beautiful! lots of mushrooms, ferns, and redwoods

hiking
Monday, February 05, 2018

Enjoyable hike with enough elevation change to add a little challenge, especially since the recent rains have bogged it a bit. Waterfall running strong.

hiking
Saturday, January 06, 2018

All in all, this was a delightful and relatively flat stroll. To correct an earlier poster, the trail to the waterfall is still *open*, although the campgrounds at Russian Gulch have closed for the season. Some of the bathrooms have also closed, but there is at least one with a flush toilet that is still open. The forest was incredibly green and lush, and the waterfall itself is delicate and beautiful now because there hasn't been much rain this season. Be careful on the wooden bridges and if you are playing around near the waterfall - the wetness in the forest can make the ground very slick!

hiking
Thursday, December 28, 2017

The trail was closed for the season until spring. Also dogs are not permitted on the trail. They are allowed on the Headlane Trails that go along the cliffs and they are allowed on the jetty beach. $8 for a day pass parking. The Headlane Trails are beautiful and decently easy to hike. Just beware of ticks. I got one and my dog got three. Happy Trails!

hiking
Sunday, December 24, 2017

The trail was very well-maintained for this time of season. There were a couple of washed out sections but nothing bad. Good traction throughout entire trail, with a few minor mud bogs. The highlight was the beautiful beautiful scenery. We will make a point to do this hike every time we are in the area.

hiking
Saturday, November 18, 2017

A quite respectable fern canyon with a waterfall :) If you're up for some more elevation, check out the North Trail on the way, as the route shows, but take that side-loop up along the North Boundary Trail (shown in blue), it gets into some strange bone-white pygmy forest.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Beautiful trail, well-maintained, few people. I would recommend this!!

hiking
Sunday, November 05, 2017

Beautiful hike with gorgeous plant life, wildlife, even newts, and a Waterfall. Loved it!

hiking
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

came from out of state to see the red woods. this was definately the way to go. beautiful scenery.

hiking
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Very nice hike. The falls are beautiful, even in September. The first part of the trail is an old logging road, so it is still somewhat paved, but the rest is dirt. Much of the route follows the creek, so it is very lush with plenty of ferns and flowers. We hiked on a weekday and saw about 20 people total, so not a busy trail. Most people seem to take the most direct out and back route to the falls. We did a loop to add additional distance and hardly saw anyone on the secondary trails. Our favorite part of the hike was along the north trail - you have some elevation gain, but it's not difficult, and then once you are up on the hill, it is a very easy and relaxing hike through the forest.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

No bugs. Well maintained trails. Lovely forest.

hiking
Saturday, August 05, 2017

We drove to the Horse Camp on 409 and parked on the side of the road. We started on the straight Northern Boundary Trail and the took a left when the signs marked the East Trail. It ended in a nice waterfall. The Trail was very well marked and wide. The hill made it feel like a tougher hike than the small distance indicates.

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