Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
2.00 mi (3.22 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.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

State Park Fee

Pros

Easily navigable fern-lined slot canyon. Family-friendly.

Cons

Long unpaved access road.

Trailhead Elevation

30.00 ft (9.14 m)

Features

Old-growth forest

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

09/27/2017
Fern Canyon is such a beautiful place. Lush full of ferns and super vibrant greens. The coast was nice that day and provided a nice chilly sunny experience.

Take your time walking up the creek, and enjoy what the canyon walls have to offer. It's a different world, and worth the admiration.
08/21/2016
Fern Canyon in the early morning is spectacular.
05/07/2016
This has become a must stop for me anytime we bring friends to the Redwoods. I highly recommend hiking in on the Jame Irvine Trail.
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