California Hiking Northern California Coast Trip report

Fern Canyon – Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

My left foot was still pretty tender in the morning but we had more hikes planned so we came up with a plan for Heather to bring an extra pair of shoes in case I needed to try and use hers again. I was using my newer pair and hers were just small enough that using them on a longer hike would probably cause other issues.

As we were driving south of Crescent City to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park I came up with another idea, wearing two socks on that foot. I pulled a sock from the extra pair I carry and slipped it on. When I put my shoe back on it did seem to have helped.

We parked at the visitors center which was across from a meadow where a few elk were lounging in the distance.

Unfortunately one of the big differences between having to use our phones and the camera I lost, was the ability to zoom so the elk are just some dark dots up and to the right of the sign.

Our plan here was to do a loop by taking the James Irvine Trail to Fern Canyon then hiking along the beach to the Beach Campground and returning via the Miners Ridge Trail which would be right around 13 miles.
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We followed pointers for the James Irvine Trail crossing Prairie Creek on a scenic footbridge.
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It was great to be back amid the redwoods again. Walking through the giant trees is simply awe inspiring.
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We kept right on the James Irvine Trail when the Miners Ridge Trail split off to the left.
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We stuck to the James Irvine Trail for approximately four and a half more miles as it descended through the lush green forest. Occasionally wildflowers made appearances along the way.
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We turned left at a sign for Fern Canyon.

A short descent ending with a few stairs brought us to Home Creek.


From the canyon floor it was roughly a half mile to the mouth of the canyon. During summer months planks are installed for the necessary creek crossings but they weren’t set up yet so we forded the creek a few times as we made our way through the 50 to 80 foot deep canyon lined with 5 different types of ferns.



We met a couple at the entrance to the canyon who had just finished an out and back exploration. They informed us that Davison Road, which is the road to the parking lot near Fern Canyon, was closed at the Beach Campground and they were walking back via the beach. That had been our plan too so it didn’t affect us, but it helped explain the lack of hikers in the canyon.

We followed a path from the empty parking lot to the beach through an excellent display of lupine.

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After crossing Home Creek on a log we arrived at the ocean and turned south heading for the Beach Campground which was about a mile and a half away.


The lack of zooming capabilities on our phones came into play twice as we walked along the beach. First when we spotted some elk in a gap in the trees.


And again when we were trying to identify a shorebird.
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We took advantage of an empty site at the Beach Campground and Heather changed our of her wet shoes and put on the dry pair she had brought just in case I had needed them. We then located Davison Road and followed it back north a short distance to a sign for the Miners Ridge Trail.
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This trail began as an old roadbed but eventually returned to the mighty redwoods.
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It was 2 miles back to where we had split off on the James Irvine Trail earlier in the day and another 2.2 miles back to the Visitors Center. My foot had held up despite there still being some lingering irritation which was a win and the rest of the day had probably been the smoothest of the vacation so far. Things seemed to be looking up. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Fern Canyon

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