“A remote section of the Coastal Trail with access to the Gold Bluffs Beach camping area and Fern Canyon.”
— Zander Göpfert
Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife
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
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.