Friday, September 9, 2011

Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Our first destination was Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in Humboldt County, California, located close to the border with Oregon. This park, along with Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith (which we visited later that same day), and Redwood National Park, are managed cooperatively by the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

In Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park we went for a hike in Fern Canyon. The walls of Fern Canyon are 10–20 meters (33–66 ft) tall and are covered with five different kinds of California native ferns and other moisture-loving plants and mosses. Thanks to these plants the canyon has a prehistoric feel and likely because of that it was used as one of the filming locations for Steven Spielberg’s ”The Lost World: Jurassic Park”, as well as BBC's “Walking with Dinosaurs”.

The hike through the canyon is short (around 1 mile, round trip), but very pleasant. It starts near the beach and it follows Home Creek upstream as the canyon gets narrower and steeper. You can either hike into the canyon and back, or continue on to a trail/stairway that climbs out of the canyon, as we did. At the top, the trail follows the canyon rim and offers fine views into the canyon.

Fern Canyon is worth a visit not only because it is picturesque and a bit outer-worldly, but also because of the road leading to it. To get to the trailhead, you need to drive 9 miles on a scenic dirt road named Davison Road. The exit for the road is located on US Hwy 101, 3 miles north of the city of Orick. Directly next to the highway exit is Elk Meadow, where often Roosevelt elk can be spotted. Unfortunately, we were not lucky enough to see it. Then Davison Road becomes a dirt road, but I’m sure you will not mind as the drive is quite spectacular. All of a sudden you find yourself in a thick and lush green forest, driving on a road that gets narrower and narrower... Also, you will need to ford through several small streams, but worry not, I’m sure you will make it as our tiny car had no problem with it. It was a truly perfect beginning to an adventure that we were about to embark on during next few days.

Fern Canyon