Explore the most popular birding trails near Mendocino with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

24 days ago

A beautiful trail that steadily descends through 2nd-growth forest to a flat-bottom canyon (from which trails continue, if you feel like extending your hike). Quietness and solitude, but watch out for mountain bikers (and it's a very good biking trail to descend). Only drawback is that during the continuous steady descent, you are well aware that you'll be making a continuous, steady ascent for the return portion of your hike.

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).

29 days ago

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

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.

1 month ago

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

2 months ago

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


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.

road biking
3 months ago

good for endurance biking

Beautiful morning walk, with access from cliff to beach area. Directly across from Mendocino town for lunch.

Nice hike. Crazy number of rhododendrons in spring.

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

on North Trail

4 months ago

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.

4 months ago

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.

5 months ago

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.

5 months ago

One of the best trails! #Redwoods

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

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!

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.

7 months ago

so beautiful! lots of mushrooms, ferns, and redwoods

8 months ago

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

9 months ago

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!

Gorgeous hike! Just be careful about ticks! I got one and my dog got three!

9 months ago

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!

Completed the entire trail but at times the trail let us to different roads. The trail signs are not visible or perhaps aren’t there at all. Trail is a 15.5 distance but we ended up doing 18.5 in hike. It was a great trail in spite of everything else.

This is a beautiful spot but hiking here is beyond difficult and not because of distance or terrain. This place is a mesh work of unmarked, cris-crossing trails. If I hadn’t had my GPS I fear that I might not have found my way back to the trailhead. You can walk the road but the logging trucks are frequent and they slow down for nothing and no one. Golden chanterelle mushrooms were plentiful. I don’t know if it is legal to harvest the so I left them.

9 months ago

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.

10 months ago

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.

11 months ago

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

11 months ago

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

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