Tanbark Trail and Tin House is a 6.1 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Big Sur, California that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, nature trips, and bird watching and is accessible year-round.

Length6.1 miElevation gain2,024 ftRoute typeLoop
HikingNature tripsBird watchingRunningForestRiverViewsWildflowersWildlifeNo dogs
Description
Waypoints (6)
Tips

FIRE CLOSURE: As of March 2021 there are closures in this park or area due to wildfire. For more information, please visit https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=578 This is a strenuous loop into the hills above Big Sur with amazing views along the coast as far as the eye can see. 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 trail starts through redwood and oak forests on the side of a creek and almost exclusively climbs up to the Tin House where the trees clear and leave you with an unrestricted view across the canyon and down to the shoreline below.

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. Note: the start of this trail is currently closed, but the fire road is open

Weather
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Daylight
Reviews (249)
Photos (219)
Recordings (201)
Completed (468)
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Diana McAllister
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 2, 2021
Closed

Still closed according to CA parks website: "All trails east of Highway 1 remain closed due to damage from the Dolan Fire, and debris flows caused by heavy rains. Closed trails include Ewoldsen, Tan Bark and Tinhouse."

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Melissa M
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 12, 2021
HikingClosed

This trail is closed as of 3/12/21 due to the Dolan fire in 2020.

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Joseph Gibbs
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 26, 2020
HikingGreat!

I think this was our favorite trail when going to Big Sur. Got hot later in the day and we went in September '19. Great views and changing scenery. Would do it again.

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Phil T
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 30, 2020
HikingGreat!

Great trail! Did this in early July, and it was HOT. I did the hike clockwise. Going uphill through the woods is beautiful, and going downhill with the ocean view is just incredible. Walking on the highway is a bit sketchy, but if you walk on the southbound side (closer to the ocean) there are plenty of areas on the other side of the guard rail. You’re only on the road for a couple feet. A memorable hike!

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Malea Jude
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 19, 2020

Great trail! Challenging enough up tanbark trail. 4 out of 5 because the loop requires you to walk to the highway for the last mile. We opted to hike up tanbark to the tin house and then return the same way we came to avoid the highway danger. Took about 4 hours including a little play in the creak and lunch at the tin house. Mostly redwood forest with great shade. View points throughout.

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JR Graves
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 16, 2020
HikingGreat!

Completed this route today without my phone. Totally worth the strenuous rating, but not too bad. I would do an out and back like others have said, but the walk on highway 1 isn’t bad, and does make the trip shorter. Wonderful views and I’ll try to add pics later.

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Nicole Laprise
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 16, 2020
Hiking

This was a challenging hike. Parking is along route 1 which confused me as I expected there would be a parking lot. The Julia Pfeiffer State Park website says they charge a $10 fee and I’m not sure where they would collect that. It’s not easy to find the trail head but it is directly across from Partington Cove Trail which seems more popular. I hiked the full loop clockwise, coming back by the fire road and Route 1. The trail was shaded through the woods by a stream on the way up and beautiful ocean views (exposed) on the way back. The total distance was about 6.75 miles and took me 2 hours and 45 mins.

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Alexis Yee
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 8, 2020
Hiking

Finding the trail head was a little difficult. It’s opposite of the cove where everyone is walking. The beginning of the trail is steep and a big incline. There was no “peak viewpoint” but we ventured off towards the Tin house and The Lookout. The Lookout was a nice lunch spot with a view. Find a spot in the beginning of that trail. Steep uphill in the beginning = going down is gonna suck. Butttt, it had a wonderful view that made it more bearable. Hiking sticks would have been so lovely if I had them. It was also SUPER dusty when going down, so make sure you’re not in the back of the pack or else you’re gonna eat dust all the way down. Like everyone said, the car is down the highway more. Cars will be whizzing by you super close. However, the end of the trail is right near a parking lot. So if you had two cars, itd be perfect to leave one in the beginning and one at the end. Kind of like rafting style.

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Isabel Fulcher
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 6, 2020

The trail on the way up was not well maintained (wear pants if you don't enjoy walking through overgrown wildflowers - fortunately did not see any poison oak). The views on the way up were just okay. Despite other comments here, I am glad we decided to do the full loop even if it entailed walking along the road (yes, scary at times but just walk against traffic and take in the beautiful views!).

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Jolene K
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 6, 2020
HikingOver grown
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Jarrett Logan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 2, 2020
HikingGreat!

Calf burner! Well worth the strenuous climb.

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Rosie Walker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 29, 2020
Hiking

Great trail! We headed out mid morning with cloud coverage - was able to climb above the clouds- beautiful scenery - towering redwoods, babbling brooks, dense trees and ferns, once you stop climbing 3.5 miles the terrain changes with multiple wildflowers and varying shades of hillsides. We did the full loop - it showed almost 8 miles when we got back to our car. Highly recommend if you want a good long hike!

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Sam T
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 17, 2020
Hiking

I’m torn about how I feel about this trail. I hiked clockwise to the Tin House. It immediately started alongside a serene stream followed by about 4 miles uphill. It was challenging enough to be deemed hard and awesome to hear the water stream in the background (5/5 stars). There are plenty of shots to take. Also, bring your trekking poles if you’ve got them. After reaching the top of hike, I took the necessary detour to Tin House...it was very underwhelming. From here, it gets progressively worse. I then descended downhill for about two miles on a dirt road (2/5 stars) and finished the last mile on Hwy 1 (1/5 stars). Watch out for cars! Overall, I give it a 4 out of 5 because I would definitely do it again but would do an out and back in order to avoid the dirt road and highway.

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Michael Lau
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 11, 2020
HikingOver grown

A little overgrown but not too bad. I personally parked at the vista point a little further down than the start of the hike so the end of the trail would be closer to the end of the trail. Would recommend hiking sticks. Amazing hike!

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Joanna McPherson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 11, 2020
Hiking

Beautiful, decently shady hike with some decent elevation gain. Once we reached the tin house, we backtracked rather than take the highway back and cooled off in a waterfall near the beginning of the trail

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Allison Wang
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 9, 2020
HikingOver grown

Good hike overall. A good hard uphill climb and steep downhill. Had lunch at the tin house. Lots of shade at the beginning of the hike while going uphill. Little shade going downhill. Kind of sketchy at the end of the hike while walking on highway 1 to go back to the car. The road narrows and it’s scary on the side of the road while cars whiz by.

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Amanda Nimmer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 3, 2020
Hiking

Great trail. Great views. My recording only picked up a bit of the end along the road. Taking the road back isn’t for the faint of heart and I wouldn’t want to do it with children or anyone who isn’t comfortable zig zagging Route 1 quickly. Highly recommend avoiding the Route 1 “alternate route.”

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varun maniar
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 2, 2020
HikingGreat!

Really nice hike. Was lucky enough to go on a day that there were not many people. Try to go on a clear day so that you can see the ocean on the first half of the hike. On the day we went after passing a certain elevation over the clouds nothing was visible. If you go back using the route that takes you through highway one it can be a little tricky to walk beside the road because there isnt a dedicated walking path.

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Mark Sebarrotin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 24, 2020
HikingOver grown

Hiked on 06/20. This was an excellent morning hike and my first one out since quarantine! I could tell it hasn’t been maintained since much of the trail is experiencing some over growth. It is a generous climb up top, but nothing too strenuous. The Tin House was a great place to relax in the shade and have lunch (as many others also did). I took the fire road back down—which I highly recommend. It is much wider than the Tanbark Trail and offers stunning panoramic views of the ocean. Plus, it is sparsely hiked so you can take your masks off if you’re with members of your own household. Would recommend a visit here!

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Kyra Dunbar
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 21, 2020
HikingOver grown

Climbed 6/21. Lots of coverage over all so can be done even in the heat of the day but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Lots of poison oak across the trail so wear pants. But a park ranger said it should be getting groomed soon! Beautiful climb through the redwoods along a rushing creek. There’s a place to get fresh creek water to filter about 2/3 of the way up. Tin house is a great lunch spot with incredible views. I definitely recommend going back down the way you come up by Partington Creek because walking along the highway is a little unsafe. And that redwood grove is too great to only see once!!

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Priyanka Altman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 21, 2020
Hiking

This is a great hike - beautiful redwoods and river (I sat by the edge with my feet in the water after descending), and a solid climb. The day I went was somewhat cloudy; when I got to the top it was sunny with blue skies above me, but the view of the ocean below was completely obscured by clouds, which was a bit disappointing, but still great. I chose to double back on the trail to come down instead of taking the fire road. It was less strenuous than I anticipated, I made it to the top in around 1 hour 15 minutes, spent ~15 minutes at the top, and came back down in a little under an hour. (I did start recording a little late (~6 minutes into the hike) and forgot to stop my watch when I first sat down by the river after coming back.) Definitely some overgrown parts, but nothing too bad. When I first parked I was confused by the trail going towards the water across from this trailhead on Highway 1 - if anyone else has similar confusion, the trailhead for the Tanbark trail is the inland one, these are two separate trails. Oh, and the tin house itself was pretty underwhelming. Not too many people, I was alone for most of the hike, passed ~5 other groups/couples.

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Man-ting Kao
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 20, 2020
HikingRocky
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Rachel Baer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 20, 2020
HikingOver grown

6/20 was a bit overgrown but nothing too crazy. Lots of elevation but worth it! Important to note that if you do this as a loop the trail will end at a different spot on highway one and there's not a clear safe path to walk back to the start so you'll be walking right on the highway. First half follows a creek w falls and beautiful redwoods, but going down the fire road you'll be pretty exposed if it's not a cloudy day. Most of the views were obstructed by clouds for us but if you get lucky you'll be able to see the entire coast in both directions!

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Josh Mulanax
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 14, 2020
HikingBugsOver grownRocky

Good trail.

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Sarah McGeorge
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 6, 2020
HikingOver grown

Did this trail for the first time in years, with my 7 year old in tow! I was worried we might not make it with all the incline, but we pulled it off! Always a wonderful hike, you can tell it hasn’t been traveled as much lately!

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Jammie Nicole
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 6, 2020
HikingBugsOver grown

Amazing hike!!!! You will feel the burn the first half going up but the second half the views are spectacular!!! Definitely going through patches of brush and wildflowers so advised to wear long pants as I flicked a couple tics off me. Walk on the road back isn’t so bad as there is a decent amount of food traffic so I felt cars were aware of hikers coming by. I will so it again when I’m in town!

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Astrid Holberg
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 6, 2020
Hiking

Gorgeous strenuous hike! We did this hike a little differently. We parked near the Vista Point sign where the Tin House Trail reaches Hwy 1, then walked north on Hwy 1 and explored the Partington Cove trails before we started the loop. I'd highly recommend doing this because those trails are spectacular and get you down to the ocean. That added about 1.5 miles and 350' elevation gain to our hike, bringing it to a total of nearly 2,500'. Then we hiked up the steep Tan Bark trail through a spectacular redwood canyon. There are still lots of wildflowers in bloom. You do need to cross a fallen redwood bridge and parts of the trail are narrow with a steep drop off, so this isn't the trail for someone with a fear of heights. Most of the climb is in the shade. I had read that there was a bench at Swiss Camp 2 miles up the Tan Bark Trail, but we never found it. Still, this was a great lunch spot and would have made a good turnaround spot if we hadn't decided to do the loop. The trail up to here was pretty good. Then we hiked on to the Tin House, and this is the section that is quite overgrown including with poison oak, so I wouldn't suggest wearing shorts. I also picked up a tick on this section. We enjoyed another break on the patio of the Tin House. The Tin House trail from there back down to the start is a wide fire trail with terrific ocean views. All four of us loved this hike, and one of us will turn 85 later this month!

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