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.