Tan Bark Trail
6.3 miles     2000 ft
1 Jan 2012

A pleasant 6-mile route that first climbs up a shaded canyon along a single-track hiking trail, then meanders down a fire road with awesome views of the Big Sur coastline.

Location: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Elevation Profile
Trip Planning

Trail Maps

» Official State Parks Brochure: A decent map that shows all the trails in the park


This hike is well described in an article by RedwoodHikes.

Tan Bark Trail to Tin House: Tan Bark Trail meanders next to a creek for the first 0.4 miles. It then climbs up the southern side of the canyon to reach an intersection with Tin House Rd, a wide fire road. Instead of turning right along Tin House Rd, you may turn left for a short side trip to Tin House, which lies 0.2 miles away (see trail map). Tin House is an abandoned shelter that offers great views of the Pacific and the canyon through which Tan Bark Trail ascends.

Note: Along the spur trail leading to Tin House, there is an intersection with a side trail that connects Tan Bark Trail with Ewoldsen Trail (this trail is shown clearly in the RedwoodHikes map). In the official state park map, it's called Waters Trail. In 1.1 miles, this trail connects with Ewoldsen Trail. Waters Trail offers great views of the Pacific and could be a nice extension to your hiking trip, making it longer by 2.2 miles with 400 ft of additional climbing.

Tin House Rd to Highway 1: Return by following Tin House Rd all the way to Highway 1. There is a large parking lot marked by 'Vista Point' close to the intersection of Tin House Rd and Highway 1.

Along Highway 1: Walk about 1.1 miles north along Highway 1 to reach the Tan Bark trail head. There's little shoulder in many sections of Highway 1, so walk with care. Alternately, you may arrange for a car shuttle between these two points.

For history of Tin House and other stories related to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, here is an interesting article by PelicanNetwork.


Location: Along Highway 1, at the northern end of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park . No street address. Parking area is visible in Google Maps if you zoom in sufficiently.

Directions: The trail head is next to a bend in Highway 1, two miles north of the main entrance for Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. It is 6.1 miles south of Nepenthe Restaurant, Big Sur. A cattle gate on the right marks the trail head for Partington Cove. On the other side of Highway 1 lies the trail head for Tan Bark Trail. It is best to study the contours of Highway 1 to figure out the exact location of the trail head.

Google Maps:

Parking Fees: None (last visited: Jan 2012)

Capacity: About 20 cars can be parked at the trail head and along turnouts on both sides of Highway 1.

Latitude: 36.177046     Longitude: -121.693727

Tan Bark Trail

Tan Bark Trail meanders along a shaded canyon, then climbs up gradually to reach Tin House, an abandoned shelter.

Tin House Rd

Ocean views along Tin House Rd, which goes all the way down to Highway 1

© Copyright 2008—2020, Gurmeet Manku.