Living in Monterey County makes me take Big Sur for granted. In less than an hour I can be transported to one of the most scenic destinations in California. Usually I take in the majestic beauty from the comfort of my own car, on the patio of Nepenthe, or with my feet in the Big Sur River at Big Sur River Inn. This time I decided to change things up for a more rugged hiking adventure. I am nowhere near being a seasoned hiker (unless the walk to McWay Falls counts) but I have no problem getting my heart rate up in the name of natural beauty. With so many trails and day hikes to choose from I did a little research and looked to some of my local hiker friends for some advice. Wanting both the feel of the redwoods and the epic coastal views it was easy to choose the Tan Bark Trail located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
My Tan Bark-experienced friend and I left Pacific Grove around 12:30pm and arrived at Partington Canyon in Big Sur around 1:35pm. The trail begins at Partington Creek which is located along Highway One just 6 miles south of Nepenthe. There is a large pullout off of Highway One where you can easily park along the guardrail.
After grabbing a few waters and granola bars my friend and I set out on the 6 mile loop which begins at the base of Partington Creek on the redwood side. We walked along the base of the creek and forged into the redwood forest. Once we crossed the bridge the uphill battle began, and our heart rates increased. Luckily we wore layers of clothing which soon came down to the final tank top after all the exertion of the first mile. The first 3 miles or so of the hike were steep and strenuous. I was extremely thankful for the never-ending redwood trees and emerging ocean views . It wasn’t just for the beauty; with those views I could play it off that I was enjoying nature when, in reality, I was giving my quads a much needed break. It was also nice being able to gasp in the fresh and clean ocean air.
Before the descent we took the short trail to the Tin House. This random structure in the middle of the forest has some of the best views one could ever dream up. The rusty ol’ shed was built in 1944 by a former New York Congressman. The entire “house” is made up of old tin sheets taken from gas stations. The story is that the family moved in after construction and after one night moved out. Apparently they didn’t take into consideration how hot and noisy a tin can could be. The structure is quite decrepit now but the views are still priceless.
There is a beautiful open field in front of the home where a few other hikers were enjoying lunch. I was secretly hoping they would offer me some of their carbo-licious sandwiches but no such luck. I made the best of my granola bar. I guess I couldn’t complain too much with such a spectacular view of the ocean, which seemed to go on for eternity.
After basking in the sun we took the fire road back down to Highway One. This part of the trail was the reward from our hard efforts during the first half. The downhill walk offered amazing coastal views all the way down.
I particularly appreciated the silence and stillness of the trail as we seemed to be the only hikers on it at the time. We also made a few short stops to enjoy the early signs of spring and the wildflowers (especially the California Poppies) that were popping up all over the place.
Once we made it to Highway One we hiked about another mile along the scenic highway back to the car. We stopped at a vista point where we rehydrated and stared at the crashing waves along the rocky coastline. My hair was starting frizz due to the nearness of the ocean so it was time for our journey to end. We finally arrived back to the car at 4:40pm and enjoyed the drive back home.
After taking the route less taken I have decided to embark on more hikes around the area. With so much to do and see around here it is a shame not to!