Fern Canyon

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Humboldt, California

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Fern Canyon


  • Fern Canyon.- Fern Canyon
  • The mile-long Fern Canyon Trail crosses Home Creek on a series of footbridges within the canyon corridor.- Fern Canyon
  • - Fern Canyon
  • A sea of fern and mosses line the canyon walls.- Fern Canyon
  • Fern Canyon Trail.- Fern Canyon
  • Five species of fern inhabit Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.- Fern Canyon
  • Five-finger fern (Adiantum aleuticum) covers the slot canyon walls.- Fern Canyon
  • - Fern Canyon
  • - Fern Canyon
  • Fern Canyon.- Fern Canyon
  • Fern Canyon, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.- Fern Canyon
  • Fern Canyon Trailhead.- Fern Canyon
Overview + Weather
Easily navigable fern-lined slot canyon. Family-friendly.
Long unpaved access road.
Humboldt, CA
Pets allowed: 
Parking Pass: 
State Park Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for: 
Total Distance: 
2.00 mi (3.22 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
30.00 ft (9.14 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description


With vertical walls rising slightly higher than the canyon floor is wide, Fern Canyon is one of the West Coast's most exquisite natural hallways, where a blanket of brilliant ferns and moss provide the art. Carved over millennia by Home Creek eroding through the coastal bluffs, Fern Canyon provides a portal into an ancient canyon habitat, with some of the inhabitant fern species dating back hundreds of millions of years. The damp vertical canyon walls provide a home for five different fern species: five-fingered fern, lady, deer, sword, and chain ferns. Ferns and mosses cling to the canyon wall bringing it to life. Similar to how aspen leaves sparkle with the wind, the canyon's fern fronds are sure to mesmerize as they dance and sway delicately to the slightest hint of breeze. 

As far as slot canyon's go, Fern Canyon is incredibly accessible and easy to navigate with it's flat box-shaped floor. Most access the canyon via a mile-long trail that begins near it's western mouth, not far from the Pacific Ocean. The trailhead is located approximately 1.25 miles north of Gold Bluffs Beach Campground. The family-friendly trail traverses the canyon floor and crosses over some downed trees and Home Creek via a series of seasonal footbridges put in for summer. Visitors can continue up out of the canyon via a stairwell and return along the rim or retrace their steps along the canyon floor.

If you don't mind getting a bit wet, the canyon remains accessible for much of the year even after the seasonal footbridges have been removed. However, the trail is known to flood in winter and can be dangerous following large rains. Fern Canyon can also be reached by hiking 5 miles northwest along the James Irvine Trail, beginning at the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park Visitor Center.

Fern Canyon has become a popular destination within Redwood National and State Parks, particularly during summer, despite having somewhat long and windy unpaved access via Davison Raod. Note: trailers on Davison Road are prohibited.

If you're making the trip down, consider camping a night or at Gold Bluffs Beach Campground and visiting the canyon early or late in the day. Also make sure to bring a layer to throw on when hiking in the canyon; even if it fees warm at the beach, the climate remains cool and moist within the confines of the canyon year round.

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Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(46 within a 30 mile radius)

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