October 22 – 25, 2014: Inside Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park we did the Simpson-Reed and Stout Grove hikes. Both were essentially short strolls and were a peaceful and relaxing introduction to California.
One of my favorite hikes was next – the Fern Canyon hike in Prairie Creek Redwood State Park. The road (Davison Road) down to Fern Canyon was especially windy and steep. Camper Dan does not love those roads but, when we eventually made it to the entrance gate, it looked like Fern Canyon was closed due to a “road hazard”. Given that we’d already come as far as we had, we figured we’d stop and eat some lunch at the campground/picnic area. If we ever are back in the area, I’d definitely want to stay here. The area is called Gold Beach and it is right on the beach, very remote, and very peaceful. Anyways, some park rangers came along and we learned that the road to Fern Canyon was closed due to a mudslide. They said we could hike in (about a mile further to the entrance to the canyon) but to be careful. I’m so glad we continued on because, after the mile hike where we had to do two stream crossings, we found ourselves in a canyon – the walls were covered in ferns, downed redwoods surrounded us, and the path was just a gravel stream bed (often flowing with water). It was very surreal and, if I recall correctly, I believe we learned that some of Jurassic Park was filmed in that location.
We also did the Avenue of Giants drive to view the landscape and trees. It was nice but, for me, didn’t compare to the experience in the Fern Canyon. Rather than staying in the redwoods another night we drove another 2.5 hours south on some twisty roads to have dinner and drinks at North Coast Brewing Company in Fort Bragg before settling in for the night.