Russian Gulch Fern Canyon and Waterfall Trail Loop

MODERATE 34 reviews

Russian Gulch Fern Canyon and Waterfall Trail Loop is a 6.2 mile heavily trafficked loop 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 birding and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
6.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
567 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

hiking
2 days ago

Super easy and pretty nice. A little sloshy from the event rains

hiking
2 months ago

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.

hiking
3 months ago

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.

3 months ago

Great trail! Well maintained

hiking
5 months ago

Trail/Time of Year: Fern Canyon to Falls Loop during February 2018 and July 2018

Parking: Pay for parking (less than $10). Parking at the trailhead is very competitive every time we go. Many people walk in from further parking options (.25-.5 miles).

Terrain: Flat near the beginning. Entire trail is shaded. Most of the trail fits three people side-by-side comfortably. Approaching the waterfall the trail does thin and you will have to practice trail sharing etiquette. We seem to run into some mud at the start no matter what time of year we go. Short up and down changes in elevation as you near the waterfall. Left fork has maybe 3 short sets of stairs and is .7 miles. Right fork is 1.6 miles (we haven’t taken the right fork yet).

Child friendly: We believe so – although we take our kids hiking often and they know what to expect. We took our 3, 5, and 9-year-old and all walked the entire trail with some breaks. There was some complaining near the end and they fell asleep 5 minutes later on the drive home. No steep cliffs and the water is very shallow - do not let kids play at the top of the waterfall where it is slippery and a dangerous fall. Bring lots of waters and snacks and ensure the kids do not litter.

Modern Conveniences: Benches near mid-trail with bike rack. Bathroom at start of trail.

Humidity/Temperature: Temperate. Mid 50s during winter. Low 60s to 70s during other months.

Water Consumption: Bring lots of water. The trail isn’t dry or hot but it is long. If you have LifeStraw or similar product you will have constant access to water.

Trail Traffic: We typically run into people every 20-30 minutes depending on the day of the week. Everyone is very friendly and all just seem happy to be enjoying nature. You will typically find pairs or small groups of people at the waterfall. People tend to stop and eat here.

Cleanliness/maintenance: Occasional napkin on the side of the trail. We have never seen plastic bottles or cans which always gives us hope that people are decent. We have seen cigarette butts at the waterfall. If you are a smoker, wait until you leave the park to smoke. Trail is well-maintained by park staff.

Wildlife: Birds. Frogs. Lizards. We found one Gartner snake out of three separate hikes. Found a banana slug, lots of butterflies, mosquitoes, etc. Bring bug spray.

Plantlife: They call this trail Fern Canyon for a reason. Wild raspberry plants along the first half of the trail. Remember that the wildlife depends on these for food. Also remember that lots of berries + no toilets = unpleasant hike. TONS of mushrooms of several types during the rainy months – on the trail, trees, stumps, etc. Very few mushrooms during the drier months.

Landmarks: Russian Gulch Waterfall which is 36ft tall and nearly as wide. We have noticed that the waterfall has a stronger flow during the rainy season but is always flowing regardless of season. Small pool of water at base of waterfall that is too shallow to swim. Russian Gulch creek which runs along the entire trail. Trees growing out of stumps of other trees. Fallen redwoods that you can walk across (lead nowhere and not required).

5 months ago

Fern canon is as beautiful as it gets. We were the only people on the hike until near the end but we did go early on a Thursday. The falls were beautiful. Moderate hike as it says.

hiking
7 months ago

Hiked mid-May 2018. Arrived after 2pm and got a spot by trail head for free but that is lucky. Mostly flat for first two miles and very pretty.

Signage is decent but a number of people we came upon said they were unsure of where they were going. The falls are great and a must-see. The remainder of the loop after the falls leads to a whole different terrain. Overall a good walk but if you are in pretty good shape not too challenging. If in average shape this is a good workout.

8 months ago

Completed this on June 11th. So much green! I came at sunrise and there was no one on the trail at all. I paid 8 bucks at the entrance of the park for parking

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful, all the fern so green and healthy, the waterfall is breathtaking.

hiking
10 months ago

I completed this trail on a Wednesday at the end of March. There were some areas where the trail was muddy, but nothing you couldn’t walk around (or through!) There were some areas with limited coverage but for the most part the trail is covered by beautiful redwoods! It was a little muggy so definitely bring bug spray to fend off mosquitos. I have not done a hike in a while, so halfway through the waterfall loop portion, I was huffing and puffing a bit, but once you make it to the waterfall, it’s smooth sailing back to the campground. There’s plenty of opportunities for breaks to take photos of the wildlife and landscape! It’s absolutely gorgeous!

hiking
11 months ago

Relatively easy trail. Was fairly muddy after some rain, but manageable. The waterfall was in full force and a nice touch to the loop. It's interesting getting a number of different forest ecosystems. The beginning is more oaks, then more redwoods when in the canyon, and pines when on the hill.

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