Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

July 7, 2013

Prairie Creek Redwoods and Fern Canyon

Yup.  We were supposed to be at the Rat Race Paragliding competition, but when it rains, there is no flying.  And such a huge rain event came in that we actually lost almost 4 days of paragliding in the 7 day event.  That's why the events are so long...weather can be a fickle thing sometimes.

So instead of boo-hooing about the rain, we drive out to the Oregon coast, where rain and fog are sort of normal anyway, although the downpours did try and test our resolve.  We did some sight-seeing and hiking on the coast and in the redwoods.   The rain sort of petered out on the last afternoon, and we got in a nice long hike in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, on the northern California coast.

There are plenty of trails in the park, meandering through the tall redwoods tree groves.   Even the scenic drive through the park off Highway 101 was amazing.   We choose to do a 11 mile loop taking in the James Irvine, Fern Canyon, and Miner's Ridge trails.   The circuitous route meandered deep into the redwoods, in what some say is the best redwood trail in the area.  We certainly saw plenty of redwoods, including some really monstrous ones.  In the deep woods, there were no bugs, no wind, just a deep, damp calm.  It was really quiet and peaceful.  Even a few scattered raindrops had to fall so far through the tree limbs that we barely felt them.

The trail was amazing, winding up and down and around fallen tree limbs, while relentlessly also heading towards the distant ocean (which we couldn't see or hear until we were really close to it).  The wide trail made us look really small, especially when compared to the trees.  Our camera couldn't really capture the largeness of our surroundings with out the perspective of our tiny selves in the photo...otherwise it just looked like a normal forest.  Until you notice the little person way at the bottom.

Halfway around the loop we found the crown jewel of the trail, called Fern Canyon.  The trail drops to the bottom of the narrow canyon, where ferns grow on the sheer cliffs in abundance.  Tiny wooden planks helped us cross the creek multiple times, and we wondered how the makeshift bridges never got washed away.   But mostly we were looking up at the green, ferny walls closing in on us.

At the end of the canyon were the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean.  And a couple of tame looking elk, which paid us no mind as we hiked by them.   We stopped for a picnic near the beach, although the water was still far away from us.

We were feeling kinda lazy and almost considered begging a ride back around the grove to our car, but in the end hoofed it back through the redwoods again.  Which of course were amazing and worth every tired step to walk through again.  The return route was more on the ridge, but honestly most of the time the trail was so curvy and twisty that I had no idea where we were or which direction we were heading in the quiet trees.  I just trusted the trail signs to get us back to the trailhead again.   If I had stepped off the trail without marking the direction I had come from, the whole forest was so featureless that we might still be lost out there wondering where we were.  (Yes, mom, I had a compass in my bag just in case!)

An amazing hike in an area with many great trails.  I would really recommend Fern Canyon (and you can drive around the headland to get there if you don't want to hike the long way through the groves first).



  1. Wow, I've never seen such huge trees!

    1. Yeah, I love the redwoods, Rosemary. Totally amazing!