Walk the Fern Canyon Loop Trail

A cobbled stream cuts into fern covered walls.

A Popular Destination That Comes With Challenges: Elk, Crowds and Streams.

Prepare to get your feet wet to really explore this short hike into a stunning mini-canyon covered with ferns. This is a very popular walk up a cobbled stream located east of Gold Bluffs Beach. Many travel writers and bloggers are correct when they talk about the natural beauty of this area. You won't find huge redwoods right here, but it is surrounded by sitka spruce and other conifers.

The trail can be done as a 1-mile "lolly-pop" loop with an elevation gain of 150 feet, or hikers can stick to the bed of Home Creek and within quarter of a mile see the steep, leafy walls of Fern Canyon. This in-and-out option has a 30-foot elevation change. Either of these options might mean climbing through log jams that occur in winter floods.

Summer weekends are crowded and the gravel parking lot may be filled by 10am. Occasionally, park rangers will limit cars going west on Davison Road until the parking congestion at the Fern Canyon parking lot eases.

Normally from June to September there are wooden footbridges installed in Fern Canyon to help walkers get partway up Home Creek without getting their feet wet. Our advice is to wear waterproof footwear with good traction, and bring a pair of dry shoes to wear after the hike.

Be aware that the winding Davison Road (a dirt road) is not suitable for large recreational vehicles or anything towing a trailer. Also, people driving low-clearance vehicles often get stuck when trying to cross two streams on the way to the Fern Canyon parking area.

There is a California State Park entrance kiosk to access the area. Fees are $8 for a regular vehicle. California State and federal entrance passes are honored at this kiosk. Credit cards are not accepted.

A herd of Roosevelt Elk is often in the area and these are wild animals. Learn how to be safe around elk. It is important to keep your distance - don't approach them at all. In early summer, the females will protect their fawns by kicking at a human head with their massive front legs. In autumn, the male elk will be fighting for dominance and their antlers can be deadly. 

Before you set off to visit Fern Canyon, be sure to check current conditions and make sure that the roads are open - or to see if the seasonal footbridges have been installed.

Vault toilets in the parking area are available.
A California State Park entrance fee is required. $8 per vehicle. State passes accepted.
All Federal "America The Beautiful " passes will be accepted.
Accessibility Information
Handicapped parking spaces.
This is not an ADA trail. Much of the trail is through a cobbled stream bed.
Seasonal footbridges are made of wood and about two feet wide.

Service pets are welcome.

Last updated: August 31, 2021