Russian Gulch State Park: Fern Canyon

Hike: Fern Canyon to waterfall
Where: Russian Gulch State Park
Trailhead: Fern Canyon
Level: Moderate
Duration: 4 hours
Length: 5.8 miles out and back
Fitbit Steps: Approximately 20,000
Gear: Icebreaker Women’s Tech T Lite T-Shirt, NW Alpine Black Spider Hoody, Arcteryx Women’s Alpha SL Hybrid Jacket, REI Flash 18 Pack, Outlier Women’s Daily Riding Pants, and the North Face Hedgehog III GTX
Cost of Parking: $8

Russian Gulch State Park and the Fern Canyon trail have convinced me that Mendocino is some sort of magical, enchanted forest, ripe with greenery, glistening from mist, and filled with woodland creatures… and river otters.

Seriously. The boyfriend and I embarked on a little North Coast trip this past weekend, mostly thanks to AirBnB and a first-time user promotional discount. We both have never been, and I can safely say we are coming back.

Russian Gulch State Park: Fern Canyon Russian Gulch State Park: Fern Canyon Russian Gulch State Park: Fern Canyon Russian Gulch State Park: Fern Canyon

Russian Gulch was our second hike of the weekend, and I wish I did it first! The Fern Gulch trail follows the meandering creek from the trailhead to the waterfall. The trail was lush, green, surrounded by towering redwoods. Butterflies fluttered about. A river otter said hello and goodbye. If the trail didn’t exist, I would have felt like I was in Jurassic Park.

It’s about a 2.5 mile hike to the 36-foot falls with 200 feet of elevation gain. We followed this trail out about 1.9 miles where it splits off. 0.7 miles to the left takes you straight to the waterfall, or you can take the right path which adds an extra 2.5 miles to your trip and completes the waterfall loop. We chose the former due to time constraints.

Russian Gulch State Park: Fern CanyonRussian Gulch State Park: Fern CanyonRussian Gulch State Park: Fern Canyon

I will definitely be back to explore more of this forested wonderland! It was an incredibly quiet weekend when we went; we didn’t see many people on the trail, but the park gets packed in the summer when it starts to heat up. Hike here in the rain to experience the full, lush beauty.