The fern canyon hike is about 5 miles round-trip, and winds along the bottom of a canyon filled with ferns and redwoods. The paved trail follows an old Civilian Conservation Corps road, which itself was built on an old oxen skid trail used to remove redwoods beginning back in the 1860s. The short Bog Trail near the entrance of the park is beautiful and easy to walk. The park also has a spectacular beach at the mouth of Little River. This beach is very popular with scuba and abalone divers, and it also serves as a launching point for sea kayaks. Camping & beach access.
Access: located in Little River, 2 miles south of Mendocino on Highway One. Look for Van Damme State Park and Beach along the ocean, just north of the Little River Cemetery. 707-937-5804
Pygmy Forest Trail to Fern Canyon (Van Damme State Park)
There’s a ¼-mile, wheelchair-accessible loop entirely on a boardwalk through the pygmy forest, where 100-year-old pine trees are only one foot tall! You can continue for a 1-mile loop. For a more vigorous hike, you can also take a trail dropping steeply down into the Fern Canyon area of Van Damme State Park. This section of the trail is open to mountain bikes.
Access: go south on Highway One for another ½ mile past Van Damme State Park to Little River Airport Road, and head inland (east) for 2.8 miles to the signed parking lot and trailhead.