Fern Canyon, with its winding, fern-covered walls stretching far above, is among the most popular attractions in the Park. The primeval setting has been used in the filming of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs and IMAX’s Dinosaurs Alive. It is an easy walk up through Home Creek with much to see; this has made it very popular for families.
Getting there: Proceed north on US 101 44.8 miles to the Davison Road exit. Turn left on Davison Road and proceed 6.9 miles to the parking area at the road’s end. Davison Road can be dusty in the summer and slow going year round. Cross Squashan Creek just after the turn to the Gold Bluffs Beach Campgound which can require some care during periods of high water. Allow 75 minutes to reach the parking lot.
The route: From the parking lot and picnic area, the trail proceeds north along the base of the bluff before descending to the floodplain of Home Creek (0.2). The trail turns east entering the mouth of the canyon following a well-trod path that crosses a series of plank bridges put in place as water flow permits. The canyon walls, blanketed by the delicate five-finger fern, become more dramatic. All too soon it is over (0.6) as the canyon broadens and the trail exits up the northern rim. At the intersection with the James Irvine Trail turn left (0.8 mile). Follow the trail through the spruce forest as it descends back down to a crossing of Home Creek (1.0) and returns to the trailhead (1.2).
Extras. The California Coastal Trail extends along the foot of the Gold Bluffs both north and (using the beach) south. This is an easy way to add to the walk. Even more ambitious options are covered in Volume 1 via Friendship Ridge or the James Irvine Trail. Gold Bluffs Beach is also open to equestrians.