Within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is a narrow canyon with walls that stand over 50 feet high lined with five different types of ferns, some of whose ancestry can be traced back 325 million years.
One of the best parts about visiting Fern Canyon is the road on the way there once you exit the 101.
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.
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 anywhere between 150 to 200 pounds.
Most people think it’s the big males that you have to worry about but it’s really the females you have to be careful around.
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.
Home Creek, which runs through the canyon, occasionally floods in the winter but the canyon is typically accessible year around. Note: After rains, hikes into the canyon can be limited.
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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
When trees attack.
The Great Fern Wall. Parts of the canyon can 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.
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.