Monday, June 1, 2015

fern canyon

A few years ago, my husband and I traveled to Kauai, HI.  (Best vacation we ever took.) One of the "must see" sights, was Fern Grotto. According to  it is "one of Kauai's signature attractions". We were told we MUST see it.  So when we Kayaked up the Wailua River, we took a detour to see the grotto.  And when we got to Fern Grotto, we said to ourselves, "I'm glad we didn't pay for the boat ride to get here."  Why, when so many people thought it was a "must see" were we disappointed? To tell you why, we must take a virtual trip over to the magnificent Northern California coast. 

Fern Canyon Loop, Prairie Creek State Park.  Great blog about northern California.

Now, there is no way to possibly compare the Northern California coast to Kauai.  I will not try to do it.  They are completely different.  As I mentioned before, my Kauai experience was magnificent.  But there is a special place in my heart for the coast way up north in Cali. 

Each summer, for the past 11 years we have taken our family to camp in Trinidad, CA.  We love Emerald Forest Campground.  One of our favorite adventures while exploring the area has been the hike into Fern Canyon.  

Fern Canyon Loop, Prairie Creek State Park.  Great blog about northern California.

"Hike" is really not a great term to describe it.  That indicates that is might be challenging.  (This blog will probably never have anything physically difficult on it.  While we are not terribly unhealthy, my husband and I would not describe ourselves as athletes.) And while there are a few places to climb over a log, or cross a small stream, it is an easy hike.  One my 5 year old thoroughly enjoyed.

Fern Canyon Trail Loop

Trail Location: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Cost: Free!
Trail Head: Marked trailhead is a Fern Canyon Parking area off Davison Road. Trail can also be accessed via James Irvine Trail, Coastal Trail, and Friendship Ridge Trail.
Mileage: 0.7 mile loop
Difficulty Level: Non-level grades, not steep. Some trees to climb over or go under.
Mileage: 0.7-mile loop
The National Park Service describes it, "Some of the exquisite ferns now clinging to Fern Canyon's shadowy 30-foot cliffs are ancient species whose ancestry can be traced back 325 million years. Look for velvety five-fingered ferns, dark green sword ferns, and delicate lady ferns. Scouring winter floods periodically rush through the canyon. Seasonal bridges only exist is the summer season.
Fern Canyon Loop, Prairie Creek State Park.  Great blog about northern California.

I'd say the most difficult part of the whole adventure is the dreadfully long dirt road to get to the parking lot. Driving slow to keep the dust at bay, it seemed to go on forever (even though it is only about 8 miles).  Definitely worth the drive, though.  It was about an hour drive from our campground in Trinidad.

Our children LOVED the hike.  They loved the little bridges crossing the creek, climbing on fallen trees, getting their pictures taken, the whole bit.  We will definitely be making it a regular place to explore when we are visiting the Nor Cal Coast.
Take time to explore the rest of Prairie Creek State Park. The entire park is full of hidden gems. 

Have you been on the Fern Canyon Loop Hike? Planning to visit the redwoods soon? Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments section.

Want to know more about the Northern California Coast? Check out my other posts:

A Day In Old Town Eureka, CA (Minus Kids!)
Emerald Forest

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