Monday, August 17, 2020

Gold Bluffs Beach and Fern Canyon

Gold Bluffs Beach and nearby Fern Canyon are in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park just outside of Orick, California. Gold Bluffs Beach is reached by a six mile long dirt road off Davison Road. Fern Canyon is then another 3 miles along a dirt road following Gold Bluffs Beach. We visited on Saturday, August 8, 2020, and I suspect that area is one of the most crowded in Redwoods National and State Parks. In fact, as we were leaving, rangers were blocking incoming traffic because of a lack of parking at Gold Bluffs Beach. 

I was excited to see Gold Bluffs Beach because it is a good place to see Roosevelt elk, harbor seals and porpoises. However, we were there at the wrong time of day, those animals are best seen early in the morning or late afternoon and early evening. We did find a nice spot along Gold Bluffs Beach without any people nearby and walked out to the ocean. It is a beautiful gray sand beach. 

Yellow sand verbenia, a plant I've never seen before, covered portions of the beach. 
It is georgeous. 

Common cat's-ear, another yellow flower, is quite beautiful, particularly close-up. 
Sea rocket is another beautiful flower that thrives on the sand. 

Fern Canyon is a 50 foot deep walled canyon with ferns covering the walls and a small creek running through it. It is a quarter-mile hike from a parking area off Gold Bluffs Beach. Strategically placed boards allowed us to hike without getting our feet wet. We only hiked the bottom end, then took a trail out to the top and followed a rim-trail back to the beginning. It is an amazingly beautiful spot, but part of its allure is dampened by the volume of people within it. It would be really wonderful with many fewer people. 

Bull thistle right before Fern Canyon.

I believe this is red alder on the trail leading to Fern Canyon. 

The beginning of Fern Canyon. 

Western maidenhair ferns cover the walls. 

Whitebark raspberry leaves.

Stink currant leaves.

After leaving the canyon trail and getting up on the rim, we walked through a forest of tall Sitka spruce. Here I look upwards to the tops of these towering giants.

Both Gold Bluffs Beach and Fern Canyon are beautiful, but I was expecting more animal life. That would probably be remedied by doing them at a better time in the day. 

1 comment:

  1. I have never seen flowers growing in coarse sand like what we saw at Gold Bluffs Beach. It looked like a sci-fi set! Fern Canyon was really fun, in spite of all the people, and I wish we could have hiked further up the stream. Maybe there were fewer people further along. You are right--it is one of those places we should have hit first thing in the morning, but it didn't fit into our schedule that way.