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Tanbark Trail

A strenuous loop into the hills above Big Sur with amazing views along the coast as far as the eye can see
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 6.4 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview :  This tough climb away from Hwy1 will reward you with breathtaking views along the Big Sur coastline as far as the eye can see. The... more »

Tips:  The first half of this trail is very steep, and your legs will be screaming at you if you dont stretch out a bit before.

... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Parking and Trailhead

The trailhead is a bit tricky to find, but park your car in the turnout at the apex of the hairpin turn and walk away from the road: you should see a trail leading into the trees.

The first 0.5 miles or so will lead you through redwoods along the side of the creek.

2. Starting the climb

Afterwards the trail gets significantly steeper and your legs may need a few breaks during the climb.

The rest of the hike is almost exclusively uphill, but at least you are among the redwoods and oaks and not exposed to the hot sun during the climb

3. Tin House and view of Big Sur coastline

Once you have reached the highest point in the hike, walk along the small trail leading away from the fork between the trail and fire road. You will walk through some trees, past an abandoned building (the Tin house), and out into an open field with view to the northwest along the coast line.

This is a great place to stop for lunch, a snack, ... More

4. The Fire Road (alternate route back)

To turn the hike into a complete loop, or for a change of scenery, take the fire road down to the water. The fire road is exposed to the sun, so it can be the hotter option, but the lack of trees also means that you will have unrestricted views of the coastline and the ocean below for the entire hike down.

You will arrive a little further south... More

5. Walk along Hwy 1

If you completed the full loop, you will need to walk back along Highway 1 to where you parked your car. Walk along the cliff side of the road, as there is a larger shoulder, you will be able to see oncoming cars, and of course there is a better view!

6. Walk to the water

Once you have finished your hike, you can walk down the path to Partington Cove to see the waves crashing on the rocks or to get a close look at some of the tide pools depending on how low the tide is.