Fern Canyon Area, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
KEYWORDS: Old growth Redwood Forest, Sitka Spruce forest, Beach
Prairie Creek is an old growth coast redwood forest with a population of elk, wonderful trails, and a huge empty beach. Some locations may look familiar if you have seen Jurassic Park, the movie.
The conifers closest to the coast are all Sitka spruce, Picea sitchensis. On the Miner's Ridge Trail, redwoods do not occur until about a mile inland. Sitka spruce are also spreading west into the dunes.
It takes quite a bit of driving on a rock road to get to the Fern Canyon loop trail. The trail itself is very flat while you are in the bottom of the canyon, but somewhat slippery and filled with road hazards like fallen branches and trees. It is completely worth any hardship, however. Standing next to the wall of the canyon in July, you may be annointed by a soft rain, even on a sunny day.
Here is an interesting loop, inside the area of the polygon::
Miner's Ridge Trail, west, starting from the trailhead on the rock road immediately north of the Gold Bluffs Beach campground parking lot (yellow X on the map)
Clintonia Trail, north
James Irvine Trail, north west
Fern Canyon Trail, west
Coastal Trail or road, south, back to the starting point.
The whole loop is about seven miles, and took over three hours to hike.The trails are well signed. There is plenty of elevation gain and elevation loss along the way.