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45 minutes of ferns and redwoods ... north of Eureka.

45 minutes of ferns and redwoods . . . north of Eureka

A relaxing break from hurried U.S. 101, the Fern Canyon Trail at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, about 56 miles north of Eureka, is also just a chance to enjoy tremendous walls of lush ferns hidden in a redwood forest. This is not a hike, but a .7-mile meander or wade--depending on the weather--up Home Creek through the hush of healthy growth.

Footbridges crisscross the trail. You may get your feet wet this month, but you'll be treated to some early-spring growth and may get some sunshine. The canyon walls rise 50 feet and are thickly carpeted with delicate five-finger ferns. Other species-- deer, goldenback, licorice, maidenhair, and sword ferns--compete for space, but the five-finger dominates.

When you reach the end of the trail, you can enjoy the canyon longer by simply returning the way you came, taking the loop trail to your left--which goes back to the trailhead through a redwood forest-- or taking the marked James Irvine Trail that branches off to the right from the loop trail. The Irvine trail goes 4.2 miles to park headquarters on U.S. 101. (If you have two cars, you can set up a shuttle, leaving one car at headquarters, the other at the trailhead.)

It takes about 35 minutes to travel the 8 miles from U.S. 101 to the trailhead. To get there, turn northwest on Davison Road, 2 1/2 miles north of Orick. The narrow, winding road, unpaved after about a mile, is not recommended for trailers and motor homes.

Once you are in view of the coast, watch for a resident herd of Roosevelt elk in the tall grass near the beach. Majestic in their setting, they tolerate enthusiastic humans from a distance with a knowing, patient air. At the trailhead, where Davison Road ends near Gold Bluff Beach, there are information boards an well as primitive rest rooms.

For a park map and brochure, stop by the visitor center at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, 6 miles north of Orick, or telephone (707) 488-2171.

Photo: Towering walls of ferns envelop these walkers in Fern Canyon
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California
Date:Apr 1, 1988
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