Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fern Canyon, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Adjacent to Redwoods National Park is Prairie Creek Redwood State Park. We had read several reviews stating Fern Canyon was a 'must see', so we decided to see for ourselves. The drive into the park was not very impressive. The dirt road was not well maintained and the scenery was pretty average, overgrown bushes and pine trees along one side blocked our view of the beach. After reaching the parking lot we started down a path with similar scenery so I wasn't expecting much. The highlight of our hike before reaching the stream were the ubiquitous wild raspberry bushes we saw along the way. It is sad to see how the California drought has really diminished the beauty of the area. 

Once we reached the stream we began walking along it and all of a sudden we were surrounded by walls of ferns and mossy trees on both sides of us with water trickling from the walls. It was absolutely beautiful. It is amazing to realize what a little stream has been able to create over thousands of years. It's modest, yet steady flow has carved a 50-80 ft canyon through soil where these beautiful plants now grow.

All along the way are foot bridges set out to aid hikes cross the stream and navigate the one mile canyon. They are just wood planks laying on top of some wood block every few feet. They felt like spring boards whenever you walked across them. The kids enjoyed 'walking' across them.

At the end of the canyon you can choose to turn around or loop around by climbing some stairs and following a higher trail along the top of the canyon. We chose the latter and enjoyed a much different, yet still beautiful scenery than what we had seen by the stream.