Gold Bluffs Beach Activities

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Humboldt County

Nearby Activities and Events

Annual Candlelight Walk

December TBA, 2017
(usually the 1st Saturday in December)
Prairie Creek Redwoods SP Visitor Center
A ranger-guided walk through an ancient redwood forest lit by 300 luminaries
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
$10 per person, $12 per family
Storytelling, silent auction, and refreshments
Candlelight Walk at Prairie Creek Redwoods SP

Bicycle Tour of the Unknown Coast

May 19, 2018
Begin at Humboldt Co. Fairground, Ferndale, CA
Bicycle Tour of the Unknown Coast

North Coast Open Studios

June TBS, 2018
At studios throughout Humboldt Co.
More than 140 artists participating
North Coast Open Studios

Orick Rodeo

2nd Weekend in July
Orick Rodeo Grounds, Orick, CA
Family oriented event with children's events along with bull riding, barrel racing, and much more.
Orick Rodeo

Trees of Mystery

15500 US-101, Klamath, CA
Trails through redwoods, tribute to Paul Bunyan, Sky Trail gondola ride
Museum, cafe
Trees of Mystery

of Local Interest

Gold Bluffs Beach

No volleyball tournaments, restaurant-packed wharfs, or crowded promenades -- Gold Bluffs Beach is for those who enjoy wild places filled only with the sounds of rolling surf and circling birds. Arrive prepared for fog, although many summer days do bring warm sunshine. Beach lovers enjoy strolling along the edge of the surf for miles, often without passing another person.


Birders watch the sand, the sky, and bordering shrubs and trees for the wide variety of birds that make the beach area their home or migration stopping place. Among the most common feathered visitors are Whimbrels, Sanderlings, Western Sandpipers, and Western Snowy Plovers. A variety of gulls frequent the beach along with terns and California Brown Pelicans. The freshwater pond near the entrance to Gold Bluffs Beach is home to herons and egrets, bald eagles and ospreys, kingfishers and coots.


The appearance of specks of gold scatted through the sand at Gold Bluffs Beach was enough to attract a rush of miners to the beach in the 1850s. Savvy miners probably began to work their way up nearby streams searching for the source of the gold, but without luck. The actual source is found in the distant Klamath Mountains where prospectors discovered significant gold in the 1800s. Miners on Gold Bluffs Beach found the most gold concentrated in tide pool pockets. They mined these with moderate success for a few years.

In ancient times mouth of the Klamath River was at Gold Bluffs Beach. Over millenniums, the build-up of sediments gradually pushed the river northward. The composition of the bluffs along the beach are the result of the river depositing eroded material from the Klamath Mountains, giving Gold Bluffs a different composition than other parts of the northern California coast.


Surf fishing along Gold Bluffs Beach is a popular past-time for day visitors and those staying in the campground. Options vary about the best tides for fishing, but there is little argument that sand crabs, dug from the beach, are a sure-fire bait. A popular target for surf anglers here are redtail perch which feed on the sand crabs as well as mussels and clams. The beach by Fern Canyon is considered a hots pot for redtail perch.

Hike the California Coastal Trail

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park contains a small section of the California Coastal Trail which one day will extend 1,200 miles from San Diego County north to Del Norte County. Currently the project is more than half-way completed. The trail is a network of public trails for use by everyone from walkers to equestrians.

Maps of the sections of the trail which pass through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park can be see here:
California Coastal Trail - North of Fern Canyon to Del Norte Co.
California Coastal Trail - Gold Bluffs Campground to Fern Canyon
California Coastal Trail - Gold Bluffs Campground and south

Exploring Fern Canyon

The long, dusty drive to Fern Canyon is soon forgotten when hikers set out on the short loop trail through the lush creek valley. The 50-foot tall canyon walls are draped in a variety of species of ferns, giving the shaded canyon the appearance of a hanging garden. Among the types ferns are chain, finger, deer, lady, and sword ferns.

Visitors to the canyon can drive out to the end of Davison Road to a trailhead parking area. The brief approach hike passes through meadows often scattered with wildflowers. An occasional Roosevelt elk might be seen there. A gentle stream bubbles out of the canyon. During the summer foot-bridges are installed at stream crossings. The mile-long trail through the canyon loops back along the canyon rim, but many hikers prefer to double back the way they came.

Caution: Check with rangers or lifeguards that conditions are safe for your planned activities.

Fern Canyon can also be reached by hike from Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park headquarters area along the James Irvine Trail. The trail descends about 300 feet over its 4½-mile course to the mouth of Fern Canyon.

Prairie Creek Redwoods Wildlife

Roosevelt elk are the most popular of the park's varied wildlife. Elk can often be seen along the edge of Gold Bluffs Beach and in meadow areas throughout the park. The best places to observe them are Elk Prairie along Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, Davison Road immediately west of Highway 101, and Gold Bluffs Beach.

Roosevelt elk, CA

Roosevelt Elk

Adult elk may stand as tall as 5 feet and weigh up to 1000 pounds. Roosevelt elk are wild animals and should be observed from a distance. It is illegal to approach them. During mating season from August into October bull elks can be heard challenging each other for mating rights.

Roosevelt elk were so close to extinction in 1925 that only 15 existed in California. Today California is home to more than 1000 animals.

Other Park Wildlife

The state park also has a number of small creatures that may be seen in the forests, along streams, and near the beach. Among them are salamanders, garter snakes, newts, red squirrels, and brown bats. Larger mammals rarely seen include black bears, coyotes, mountain lions, and bobcats.

Ocean Safety

California State Parks and Recreation cautions that "large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs, pounding shorebreak, and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities such as playing near the surf line, wading, or climbing on rock outcroppings, deadly." Learn more about ocean safety at CA State Parks: Ocean Safety

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