Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,479.00 ft (450.80 m)
Trail type
11.40 mi (18.35 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Fern Canyon is a canyon within Prairie Creek State Park which is managed by the Redwoods National and State Parks.  For prepared hikers who plan in advance hikers can complete a short loop with a permit.  For hikers who do not get a permit they can hike from the Prairie Creek State Park. There are a few routes hiker can choose from, but by taking this loop they will get to experience the forest, canyon and the coast. Hikers can stop into the visitor’s center as well as use the restroom and fill up their water bottles at the trailhead. 

Hikers will start out on the by following the signs to the James Irvine Trail from there, hikers gradually ascend for roughly 1.4 miles before descending for the next 3.3 miles.  This portion of the trail is where hikers will see beautiful wildflowers such as Irises and enjoy a hike through the tall trees.  Hikers will eventually start to follow Home Creek which will take them to Fern Canyon.

Hikers will see signage to direct them to the left and into Fern Canyon.  At this point the trail becomes the canyon floor and hikers should enjoy the canyon and the flora inside.  They should be on the lookout for trickling waterfalls and enjoy the serenity of the canyon.  This is the busiest portion of hike but with patience hikers can enjoy this escape.  From the canyon hikers should walk out to the coast.  If they can return the way they came, however, for a bit more scenery they should walk along the coast to Gold Bluffs Campground.  If hikers are lucky at this point they will be able to see some of the Roosevelt Elk heard along the coast.

For roughly a mile and a half, hikers will follow the coast and then cut inland at the Gold Bluff Campground.  From there they will take the Miner’s Ridge Trail and climb for the next three miles until the final mile and a half.  Hikers will loop back with the Hames Irvine Trail to return to the trailhead.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Fern Canyon Experience. Coastal Views.



Trailhead Elevation

150.00 ft (45.72 m)

Highest point

650.00 ft (198.12 m)


Potable water
Flushing toilets
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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