The Best Hike in Redwood National Park

Guest post by Darcie Connell

Redwood National Park

It’s the most overlooked destination in California.


Because it’s the a long and grueling drive from San Francisco or Portland International Airport.

How far exactly?

A whooping 330 miles or 6.5 hour drive.

But the good news is…

Redwood National Park remains off the tourist trail so you can explore the forest in peace and quiet.

And the best place to experience Redwood National Park is at Gold Bluffs Beach – an 11 mile stretch of California coast that’s teaming with redwoods and wildlife!

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Directions to Gold Bluffs Beach

Just three miles north of Orick off Highway 101, head west down Davison Road.

It’s a winding and questionable dirt road that meanders towards the coast through the redwoods.  The road will turn north along Gold Bluffs Beach and pass Gold Bluffs Beach Campground.

Continue on for 1.5 miles until the road dead ends at Fern Canyon Trailhead.

There is a giant trail map and restrooms at the parking lot.

Tip: Take a picture of the trail map so you can reference it later on your hike.

Fern Canyon Trail Loop

A narrow and easy dirt trail leads from the parking lot heading towards Fern Canyon.

As you enter the canyon, the dirt turn into small rocks that line the canyon floor.  Fern Canyon is constantly moist year-round from fog and rain helping feed Home Creek that runs right down the center.  The water levels vary throughout the year, so be ready to get your shoes wet if there’s not a wooden plank helping you across.  Keep your eyes peeled for the Pacific giant salamanders that love the moist area.

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The canyon is home to over a handful of fern varietals including five-finger, deer, lady, sword, and chain ferns that cling to the brilliant green canyon walls and is also a graveyard for the towering redwood giants that have fallen in years past.

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From the beginning of the canyon, the trail is about 1.5 miles to the end and is relatively easy – with a few tricky maneuvers over the wooden planks across the creek.

You can either turn back or continue until you reach the James Irvine Trail that continues on the south side of the canyon rim.

Keep going up Fern Canyon until you reach the Clintonia Trail junction that will take you through redwood groves.

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When you hit Miners Ridge Trail, turn right to experience the old logging road that was also used for the Gold Bluffs miners.

The trail descends to Squashan Creek and leads out to the ocean.  Head back along Gold Bluffs Beach for 1.5 miles until you reach the parking lot.

As you walk up the beach, look for spouting whales or a herd of Roosevelt elk that live in the park.

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And there you have it… the best hike in Redwood National Park!

Be sure to download and print the park brochure and map so you don’t get lost.

Oh, who am I kidding?  You probably want to get lost…

Otherwise you wouldn’t have made the 330 mile drive in the first place!

Happy hiking!

About the Guest Blogger

Darcie Connell is the founder and CEO of – a daily newsletter for women who love travel – and  As a California native, she’s visited Fern Canyon more times than she can count and loves the redwoods. All the photos in this post can also be found, along with many others, in her Flickr account.

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