Scouting Reports: Fern Canyon, California

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Outside magazine, May 1995

Scouting Reports: Fern Canyon, California

Though acclaimed outdoor photographer Robert Mackinlay has lived in northern California for most of his life, his job has taken him to enough of the world’s remote places that he knows a unique spot when he finds one. So we weren’t the least bit skeptical when he wrote in to tell us about a great hike he discovered just 300 miles north of his Oakland home.

“Walking along the streambed in Fern Canyon,” Mackinlay wrote, “I was overwhelmed by green. It’s everywhere: moss-covered rocks, ferns of every shape and size, towering redwoods overhanging the canyon rim. The canyon is as wide as a country road, its walls as high as a two-story house. The moss and ferns lend a primordial air–it’s very easy to imagine a dinosaur around the
next bend.”

To get there, head north through Redwood National Park on U.S. 101 and, 2.5 miles past the town of Orick, turn left onto Davidson Road. After four miles you’ll meet the Pacific Ocean at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Pay the $5 entrance fee and head north on the dirt road that runs parallel to the ocean (watch out for elk). Go four miles, park, and cross a small stream. The
mouth of the canyon–and all the green you can handle–will be to your right. Call 707-488-2171 for information.

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