Russian Gulch State Park


What? : 

Russian Gulch State Park offer ocean cliffs with large blow hooll, sandy beach and lush forest canyon and waterfall.

Where? : 

Located only two miles north of Mendocino town (south of Fort Bragg).

Google Map Link


Due note 1: When writing this blog (March 2021), looks like Fern Canyon trail is closed for renovation until further notice.  The closure is from the Russian Gulch Fern Canyon trailhead in Russian Gulch State Park to the junction of the Falls Loop Trail.

I re-visit this park in Jan. 2023 and the trail to the waterfall was open.


Due note 2: This is one of the most popular parks in Mendocino area, when we tried to enter long summer weekend at around noon the park was close for cars, after few hours we came back and manage to get inside.


Due note 3: The fee is $8 per car and the pass allows you to get into any other state parks you visit that day.


My thoughts:

We visit this park on Labor Day weekend, it was full. We did not manage to get inside the park during noon time, so we went to hike at the nearby Point Cabrillo Light Station. We came back at the afternoon and had only a short visit to the beach below the bridge without any hike.

Must come again for Fern Canyon Loop and waterfall and the Sinking Whole near the ocean.

I revisit here again, one time we hiked the west ocean front trail and next time I hiked to Furan Waterfall.


The visit:

Just two miles north of Mendocino you can find the Russian Gulch State Park entrance on your left (going north).

The park has sections both on west of highway 1 (coastline section) and on the east side (Fern Canyon).

Just two miles north of Mendocino combines a three-mile leafy canyon with windswept headlands and pristine beaches along the park’s rocky coastline.

Inland, a 36-foot waterfall plunges down into a bower of redwoods, mosses, and ferns.

Along the coast, waves crash into a collapsed sea cave called Devil’s Punchbowl, and the photogenic Frederick W. Panhorst Bridge rises gracefully 100 feet from the bottom of the gulch.


The park has 3 “sections”: the coastal headlands, the sandy beach below the bridge and the forest covered Fern Canyon to the east.


Coastal headlands:

The coastal rugged headlands fingering out into the Pacific for mile and a half of ocean frontage. On the north side of the riverbank you can find the Devil’s Punch Bowl. This is one of the best blowholes on the Mendocino Coast.

A tunnel leading into the cliff rock has been formed by the waves and at its end there is 100 feet across and 60 feet deep hole in the ground. At high wave the water is being pushed into the lower tunnel and blow up at the open hole.

Fern Canyon hike:

From the end of the inner road you can hike inland through Fern Canyon to the 36-foot high waterfall that’s cascades down during the winter and spring months.

The steep canyon is covered in different species of ferns, and towering redwood trees alongside the creek. This hike one of the Mendocino Coast’s most popular hiking destinations.

You can add to the canyon walk and waterfall loop a hike at the ridge above the canyon, this will be total of 6.3 miles hike.


Russian Gulch Beach:

Located at the lower section of the park, there is a small parking lot just in front of the beach. The sandy beach protected inner bay with the calm water is perfectly for kids, situated below Highway One Russian Gulch Bridge arch based concrete structure.

The bridge considered to be the most beautiful of California's concrete arch bridges and it is the frequent subject of photographs.





Additional Pictures: