Within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is a narrow canyon with walls that stand over 50 feet high. Lining those walls are five different types of ferns, some of whose ancestry can be traced back 325 million years. This epic spot along California’s Nortrhern Coast is also recognized as a World Heritage site and an International Biosphere Reserve.

One of the best parts about visiting Fern Canyon is the road on the way there once you exit the 101.

One of the best parts about visiting Fern Canyon is the road on the way there once you exit the 101.

The way sun shines through the Redwoods and dust kicked up by the 10 mile dirt road to the canyon, is magical.

The way the sun shines through the Redwoods during the first section of the 9 mile dirt road that leads to the trailhead, is magical.

Roughly 200 Roosevelt elk roam the park environs and beyond.

Roughly 200 Roosevelt elk roam the park environs and beyond.

Gold Bluffs Beach is a beauty— eleven miles of wild, driftwood-littered shore, backed by extensive dunes. Sand verbena, bush lupine, and wild strawberry splash color on the sand.

Gold Bluffs Beach is a beauty— eleven miles of wild, driftwood-littered shore, backed by extensive dunes. Sand verbena, bush lupine, and wild strawberry splash color on the sand.

The big bulls often weigh 1,000 to 1,200 pounds, adult cows about 500 pounds, and a calf yearling can range from 150 to 200 pounds.

The big bulls often weigh 1,000 to 1,200 pounds, adult cows about 500 pounds, and a calf yearling can range anywhere between 150 to 200 pounds.

Most people think it's the big males that you have to worry about but really it's the females you have to be careful around.

Most people think it’s the big males that you have to worry about but really it’s the females you have to be careful around.

The trail follows a series of small footbridges (installed in summer) deep into the canyon.

After parking, the hike begins and it doesn’t take long for the magic to start. The trail follows a series of small footbridges (installed during the summer months only) deep into the canyon.

When the world’s tallest trees are just one highlight of a hike — and maybe not even the main highlight — you’ve found a pretty spectacular place.

When the world’s tallest trees are just one highlight of a hike — and maybe not even the main highlight — you’ve found a pretty spectacular place.

Located in the heart of northwest California’s redwood empire, Prairie Creek blends 300-foot trees, coastal canyons, sandy beach and roaming herds of Roosevelt elk in a destination 50 miles south of the Oregon and California border, off Highway 101.

Located in the heart of northwest California’s redwood empire, Prairie Creek blends 300-foot trees, coastal canyons, sandy beach and roaming herds of Roosevelt elk in a destination 50 miles south of the Oregon and California border, off Highway 101.

Home Creek that runs through the canyon occasionally floods in the winter, but the canyon is typically accessible year around.

Home Creek, which runs through the canyon, occasionally floods in the winter but the canyon is typically accessible year around.

Every square inch of the steep walls is covered with five different types of ferns as well as a variety of other plants and mosses. The dense foliage creates its own microclimate, with the dripping of water a constant companion as you make your way through the canyon.

Every square inch of the steep walls is covered with five different types of ferns as well as a variety of other plants and mosses. The dense foliage creates its own microclimate, with the dripping of water a constant companion as you make your way through the canyon.

Almost every surface has something green growing on it: lichens hang from branches overhead, moss covers the rocks, and fallen trees have other trees growing on top of them.

Almost every surface has something green growing on it: lichens hang from branches overhead, moss covers the rocks, and fallen trees have other trees growing on top of them.

Breaks in the canopy reveal glimpses of distant trees towering toward the sky.

Breaks in the canopy reveal glimpses of distant trees towering toward the sky.

Dim and quiet, wrapped in mist and silence, the redwoods roof a moist and mysterious world.

Dim and quiet, wrapped in mist and silence, the redwoods roof a moist and mysterious world. Here, as nowhere else, visitors can appreciate the redwood forest without having to imagine what it was like before the loggers.

Five-finger, deer, lady, sword, and chain ferns smother the precipitous walls of the canyon.

Five-finger, deer, lady, sword, and chain ferns smother the precipitous walls of the canyon. They have roots and stems similar to flowering plants, but are considered to be a primitive form of plant life because they reproduce by spores, not seeds.

Ferns are descendants of an ancient group of plants which were much more numerous 200 million years ago.

Ferns are descendants of an ancient group of plants which were much more numerous 200 million years ago.

Prehistoric/Treehistoric

Prehistoric/Treehistoric

Wood Wall

Wood Wall

It's fallen and it can't get up.

A half mile from the trailhead, the path climbs out of the canyon to intersect with the James Irvine Trail, named for a man who contributed much to the formation of redwood parks.

Playground

Playground

When trees attack.

When trees attack.

The Great Fern Wall

The Great Fern Wall. Parts of the canyon go as high as 80 feet.

Most people use the footbridges and avoid the creek in order to keep their feet dry but it's a much better experience if you hike THROUGH it.

Most people use the footbridges and avoid the creek in order to keep their feet dry but it’s a much better experience if you hike THROUGH it.

The Elk have been known to charge, especially the females with their young.

The Elk have been known to charge, especially the females with their young, so be cautious when you come into contact with them. In 2007, a 70-year-old man hiking on the Brown Creek Trail within the park was attacked by a mountain lion. Two mountain lions were later killed by park rangers. This message brought to you by Debbie Downer.

Fern Canyon is one of those places that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime, as Huell once said, it's that AMAAAZING.

Fern Canyon is one of those places that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime, as Huell
once said, it’s that AMAAAZING.