Hiking Project Logo

Coastal Trail: South

Easy/Intermediate
 5.0 (2)

A remote section of the Coastal Trail with access to the Gold Bluffs Beach camping area and Fern Canyon.


Your Rating:      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add to Favorites · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

9.8

Miles

15.7

KM

Point to Point

76' 23 m

High

0' 0 m

Low

152' 46 m

Up

210' 64 m

Down

1%

Avg Grade (0°)

12%

Max Grade (7°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife

Family Friendly Though long in its entirety, stretches of this trail can't be missed for exploring and spotting birds and wildlife.

For more information on your visit, see the park's website here.

Description

Given its length, most visitors will use sections of this trail for out-and-back routes. However, given the parking areas near the start and end, this trail section could be done as a point-to-point shuttle for a long, albeit memorable, day trip.

The start of this trail is tricky to get to. You can either park at the Skunk Cabbage Trailhead, which is ~3.5 miles to the southeast, or you can enter Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and use the Beach Rd. Parking and Picnic Area which is ~1.3 miles to the north.

Once on the trail, however, you'll marvel at this magnificent stretch of coastline where dense conifer forests tower above the tidal rivers and grasses of the beach. Continue to the north entering Prairie Creek Redwood State Park (if you haven't already) and keep your eyes peeled for whale spouts and regal Roosevelt elk that frequent this area.

At around 4.8 miles from the start, you'll arrive at Fern Canyon. This is a popular spot and for good reason. The trail follows a stream bed with sheer cliff walls on either side that are carpeted in lush green ferns through one of the most extensive redwood ecosystems. Needless to say, this is a must-see.

From here, the trail extends further to the north just below the coastal cliffs passing the West Ridge Trail and Butler Creek at ~7.5 miles from the start and the Ossagon Trail, camp area, and Ossagon Creek at ~7.75 miles from the start.

The trail continues for another couple miles, ending at Carruthers Cove and the Carruthers Cove Trail.

Flora & Fauna

Double-crested and pelagic cormorants, common murres, and surf scoters can be seen off the coast, while federally threatened Western snowy plovers, gulls, great blue herons, and peregrine falcons fly along Gold Bluffs Beach.

Western garter snakes, northern red-legged frogs and rough-skinned newts are common. Look for Pacific gray whales and dolphins offshore. California sea lions, harbor seals, and Steller sea lions lie on rocks just off the coast.

Contacts

Land Manager: NPS - Redwood

Shared By:

Zander Göpfert

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 2 votes

#984

Overall
  5.0 from 2 votes
5 Star
100%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#141

in California

#984

Overall
25 Views Last Month
961 Since Dec 16, 2016
Easy/Intermediate

33%
0%
67%
0%
0%
0%

Photos

A male Roosevelt elk looks over his herd of lady elk.
Dec 21, 2016 near Westhav…, CA
A herd of Roosevelt elk enjoying the day on the beach.
Dec 21, 2016 near Westhav…, CA
The end/entrance to Fern Canyon is spectacular and pretty unique.
Dec 21, 2016 near Westhav…, CA
Gold Dust Falls is worth the detour along the Coastal Trail.
Apr 28, 2017 near Bertsch…, CA
Entrance to Fern Canyon. I arrived around 1pm, which gave me half an hour of excellent light.
Nov 10, 2019 near Westhav…, CA
Sunset over the ocean on a cloudy winter day.
Aug 13, 2017 near Bertsch…, CA

0 Comments

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
Unknown See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Mar 13, 2019
Ben Brown
2mi
Sep 3, 2018
Steven Johnson
1.5mi
May 3, 2018
Josh B
The cross-over from James Irvine is really marshy. Head south from the picnic area and look for a giant white driftwood bridge over the marsh creek. 1mi