Tanbark Trail

Hello everyone! This is a friendly reminder that any of these fun places we may visit, we are a guest at. Please treat both businesses and trails with the utmost respect. We here at Hidden California follow the 'Leave no Trace' mantra, meaning whatever you bring with you comes back with you. If you see trash on a trail, please do your part to help remove it. Remember, we are not picking up trash from another person but instead cleaning up for Mother Nature. Happy adventures!

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Highway 1
Big Sur, CA 93920

36.181670, -121.689378

Hike: 6.1 mile loop trail   Level: Moderately strenuous

Dog-Friendly: No    Kid-Friendly: Yes


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About the Tanbark Trail:

During the summer of 2015, we found this spot by pure chance when we were re-visiting one of our favorite spots in Big Sur: Partington Cove. We parked next to what appeared to be a trail and decided to see what it was all about. Next thing you know, we’ve entered this new wonderland of greenery and beauty.

The sun was almost setting so unfortunately we did not get to explore for long. Once we returned from our trip I did some research on the location and learned about an abandoned tin house at the top of the trail. The sites I read also claimed the hike to be a 5 mile loop.

During the summer of 2016 on our annual Hidden CA roadtrip, we returned to the Tanbark trail but this time determined to hike the 2.5 incline to see the tin house. Boy were we in for some surprises. I had packed accordingly but it turns out the internet can lie. 😉

We hiked 5 miles up the mountain with a 1,600 ft. elevation and STILL did not reach the top. We ran out of water but thankfully there were small waterfalls along the way. We filled up our bottles with the stream water and man was it refreshing. We also ran our heads under the water to cool down.

We were so hot after walking 5 miles up the mountain and were way past our time limit so decided to turn back. We ran into a hiker along the way down who informed us that the tin house burned down several years back and there is nothing to see anymore. Glad we didn’t continue hiking. So, total this was a 10 mile hike for us.

I was able to grab some info on the now destroyed tin house: the house was built in 1944 by former N.Y. Congressman Lathrop Brown who also built the now-removed home at McWay Falls.

The tin sheeting came from several old gas stations. Once the house was completed, the Browns spent one mere night there before realizing that the tin made the structure quite loud as it expanded and shrank with the temperature changes and that metal is extremely hot! For these reasons, they never returned!

These next two shots are from the first time we explored here.  It was almost night so we didn’t get too far.

What is this strange glowing orb I captured on camera is?  It was almost pitch black and I wasn’t using flash. I wonder?

Starting the incline.  Little did we know we’d be climbing for 5 miles and still not hit the top.

There was a fallen tree in the path.  You can’t see, but there is something like a 400 ft. drop below.  Scary!

There are small waterfalls along the hike. I am not sure where the water source is yet. It was SO refreshing to put on our faces.

This was a pretty tiring hike and we took many breaks.  I loved just laying down and looking up at the trees.  How huge and majestic this forest was!

The higher we climbed the hotter it got, but man those views!

We came across the most beautiful ring-necked snake!


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