Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
200.00 ft (60.96 m)
Trail type
5.00 mi (8.05 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.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

State Park Fee


Open to hiking and biking. Ferns.


Bridges crossing Little River are removed during winter.

Trailhead Elevation

10.00 ft (3.05 m)


Backcountry camping

Suitable for



Nearby Adventures

Mendocino Coast + Clear Lake Area, California
Mendocino Coast + Clear Lake Area, California
Mendocino Coast + Clear Lake Area, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Mendocino Coast + Clear Lake Area, California


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