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Fern Falls via the Boy Scout Trail

Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP

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Difficulty: Unknown
Length: 5.8 miles
Duration: Unknown
Family Friendly

Overview :  The Boy Scout Trail ranks as one of the top showcases of old-growth redwood forests in existence with truly huge trees and several... more »

Tips:  Managed cooperatively by the National Park Service and California State Parks, the park has about 20 miles of hiking and nature trails... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Park Entrance

Using the main entrance as a starting point, turn right onto HWY 199. Drive north about 2 miles.

On the way you will pass through a small town with basic gas services, kayak and raft rentals, lodging, and a handful of local businesses.

The park's main entrance provides access to:
The park’s visitor center
Hiouchi Information Center
Jedediah... More

2. South Fork Road

Turn right at South Fork Road and cross the Smith River. On this leg you will cross two bridges.

Keep your eyes open for views of the river.

3. Douglas Park Road

Turn right again at Douglas Park Road. The road will parallel the south bank of the Smith and provides periodic views between homes.

This road becomes Howland Hill Road.

The paving ends at the park boundary. Howland Hill Road is easily passable by 2W/D cars. The road is a fairly well maintained 6-mile former logging road that provides access to several trail heads and park features.

It's a gorgeous road to drive in the heart of old growth redwood!

That being said, the road is generally narrow, frequently... More

5. Trail Heads

On the south side of the road:

Little Bald Hills Trail-a gated road heading southeasterly out of the park's boundary. The trail is a mixed-use trail suitable for bikes and equestrian users.

On the north side of the road:
River Trail .5 miles
Stout Grove Trail .5 miles

As the road continues there appear signs of old logging activity. Stumps... More

6. Stout Grove Turnout

Stout Grove Intersection on the north side of the road. A sign indicates 6 miles to Crescent City. Back to HWY 199 3 miles.

7. Unmarked Trail Heads.

A widening in the road for parking. The trail heads are unmarked.

8. Mill Creek and Nickerson Ranch Trail Heads

Mill Creek Trail
Nickerson Ranch Trail-.8 miles, no camping, no bikes.

Note: The Nickerson Ranch Trail location does not agree with the Park's Official Map.

9. Boy Scout Trail Parking

Boy Scout Trail parking, with room for around 6 cars.

10. Trail Head

2.8 miles to Fern Falls.
Fern Grove surrounded by old-growth, a gentle uphill grade, meandering. Trees at least 8' in diameter

The hike: Stroll the fern-lined path with300-foot tall trees towering above you. After a mile, the trail follows a redwood-topped ridge, with tall sword ferns pointing the way.

About two miles along, the path descends a ... More

11. Bridge

A rustic footbridge crossing a fern-filled creek with a backdrop of downed trees over the creek bed, and it's all contained within an idyllic fern-filled grotto. Following shortly after a nice upgrade, we’ll go through a Redwood Sorrel-carpeted grove. A constant sun dappled view of fern, sorrel and Redwood forest.

12. Trail passes under fallen tree

Trail passes under a downed Redwood trunk supporting lush new forest floor growth

13. Trail passes under fallen tree

The trail passes under another downed trunk followed by a spring area supporting a variety ferns and moss-covered vegetation.

The trail then meanders up a gully.

14. POI Redwood and Doulas Firs

Here’s an example of Redwood and Douglas fir side by side. Note the differences in bark.

Notes about the trail:
The trail meanders, with gentle rises and falls through a stunningly lush variety of vegetation, redwood, fir, newer and truly old growth. Noticed here was a far larger–than-usual collection of ancient fallen trees providing a... More

15. Switchback and Stairs

Approaching the upcoming short switchback and stairs, some of the area around the trail gets soft and boggy.

As we dropped down the stairs, the mosquitoes were out in full-force and continue to be thick at frequent intervals as we head down the trail.

16. POI Example of a "Mother Tree" and sisters.

An enormous "mother tree" stump nearly 20' in diameter centered with a quad. of maturing sister trees surrounding it.

17. Steps

Steps which end down at a small creek and footbridge followed by another series of steps out of the creek gully.

A steady upgrade along a root-crossed trail follows. The roots make for handy footing up the slope. After summiting the slope, a short series of steps provide an easy decent to another footbridge crossing a small brook followed by... More

18. POI Redwood Burls

About 60' up the side of a Redwood is a very good example of a Redwood burl. Upon examining some of the trees in the area, more can be found.

19. POI Burls

West of the trail about 80-90 feet you’ll see a grouping of very big trees. In particular, look for the double-trunked redwood with the line of burl-wood extending up its side.

20. A Maple filled gully

Foot bridge.

The trail rounds a nose and follows a maple-filled, fern-carpeted gully to another footbridge.

21. Footbridge

A short footbridge.

22. Fern Falls

Located in a grotto about 20' tall, carpeted with ferns and mosses. These falls must be something else during the wet season.

There doesn't appear to be any continuing trails beyond the falls. Head back and enjoy the return trip.

23. Return to trailhead.