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Fern Canyon Trail

Van Damme State Park

Mendocino Coast + Clear Lake Area, California

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Fern Canyon Trail

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  • Fern Canyon Trailhead.- Fern Canyon Trail
  • Fern Canyon Trail.- Fern Canyon Trail
  • Coast redwoods tower above Fern Canyon.- Fern Canyon Trail
  • Oyster mushrooms on the Fern Canyon Trail.- Fern Canyon Trail
  • A low flow Little River adjacent to the Fern Canyon Trail.- Fern Canyon Trail
  • A fern-filled Fern Canyon.- Fern Canyon Trail
  • Fern Canyon Trail.- Fern Canyon Trail
  • Little River.- Fern Canyon Trail
  • Fern Canyon Trail.- Fern Canyon Trail
  • Unidentified mushroom species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Fern Canyon Trail
  • In winter months, spawning salmon and steelhead can be seen in Little River.- Fern Canyon Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Open to hiking and biking. Ferns.
Cons: 
Bridges crossing Little River are removed during winter.
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Region:
Mendocino Coast + Clear Lake Area, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
200.00 ft (60.96 m)
Parking Pass: 
State Park Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking
Total Distance: 
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
10.00 ft (3.05 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Team

Not to be confused with Fern Canyon of Russian Gulch Sate Park found only a few miles to the north, this Fern Canyon Trail is tucked away at the east end of Van Damme State Park. The trail is known for it's lush environs, spawning habitat for salmon and steelhead, and as a connector trail to a cypress and pine pygmy forest found a few miles inland.

Carved over millennium by the Little River's flow, this lush 2.5-mile canyon is made accessible by an old forest road that's been converted to a hiking and biking trail. As it's name implies, ferns are the dominant vegetation, filling the canyon walls with 10 different species that take root here. A dense canopy of redwood, fir and alder shades the canyon floor and Little River below.

The Fern Canyon trail is more or less flat, with a negligible rise of a few hundred feet through the canyon. The trail crosses Little River on several occasions, and during the rainy season spawning salmon and steelhead can be spotted in the river's pools. Note that the small bridges are removed during the winter, which can limit travel after the first mile, particularly for cyclists. At the end of Fern Canyon, hikers and bikers can either return or continue to the pygmy forest via two trail options.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

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