Fern Canyon Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"Similar to Van Damme State Park’s Fern Canyon just a few miles south of here, Russian Gulch State Park’s Fern Canyon Trail is paved, flat, easy, and incredibly gorgeous. And because it’s free of motor vehicles, it makes a perfect outing for families and anyone wanting a leisurely ride. As a 3.2-mile out-and-back (1.6 miles each way), this trail has virtually no elevation change, and because you stay on the paved trail, you’d really have to work hard to get lost."
--Linda Austin, Mountain Bike! Northern California (Menasha Ridge Press).
"With its gurgling alley of green in a verdant canyon, Van Damme State Park provides an easy sampling of the lush ecosystem found just inland from the coast. The highlight is Fern Canyon, a small gorge 400 feet deep that shelters Little River and a lush, regenerating redwood forest. A diminutive coastal river barely 5 miles long, Little River provides critical habitat for coho salmon, steelhead, and a variety of other wildlife. Logged during the late 19th century, the forest has since rebounded to impressive dimensions with only gigantic decaying stumps to remind hikers of the past."
--Matt Heid, 101 Hikes in Northern California: Exploring Mountains, Valleys, and Seashore (Wilderness Press).
"Van Damme State Park was named for the son of a Flemish immigrant who prospered in the logging trade, moved to San Francisco to operate a ferry, and eventually relocated back to the stunning beauty of Little River. The 1,830-acre reserve harbors a rich ecological diversity, including coastal beach and headland, second-growth redwood forest, riparian zone, and, most unique of all, a pygmy forest. This 9-mile, semiloop trip samples this diversity following Little River through aptly named Fern Canyon before climbing into redwood uplands to a pocket of pygmy forest. The return portion descends into a serene canyon bearing Little River’s headwaters."
--Mike White, Top Trails Northern California’s Redwood Coast (Wilderness Press).
"This pleasant hike begins and ends at one of a small handful of publicly accessible pygmy forests in the state. From here it plunges down into a deep ravine clothed in mature second-growth redwoods to the headwaters of the Little River. After a stretch along the lush riparian streamside, the trail climbs steeply and returns to the trailhead via an old logging road, now closed to vehicle traffic."
--Dan Brett, Hiking the Redwood Coast (Falcon Guides).
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