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Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: Tanbark Trail

Trail Report

In the form below, enter a Subject line or title (optional), the date you hiked the trail, and a a rating as to the general passability of that trail then follow up with a more detailed narrative of the specific conditions or problems encountered. For the longer trails some folks like to segment the specific conditions part of their reports, reporting conditions in a serial fashion between landmarks such as camps or junctions. This is fine so long as the entire report is specific to a particular named trail.

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Wilderness Freeway: Heavily used and well maintained.
Clear: No obstacles and tread well defined.
Passable: Some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident.
Difficult: Brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread.
Impassable: Completely overgrown or tread obliterated.

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Topic review

Expand view Topic review: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: Tanbark Trail

Re: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: Tanbark Trail

Post by guy on Mon May 23, 2016 12:46 pm

Date Hiked: May 22, 2016
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined) Great walk up the Tan Bark trail, beginning about 9:30 am. Thanks to whoever has worked on it recently. Beautiful condition with dead falls cleared and significant brush whacked back. The giant split redwood on the trail is still there of course. It's not going anywhere. A little tricky but no big deal. Topped out at about noon. Perfect day, cool weather. Lots of water in the creeks and springs. I dropped my companions at the trail head a little after 9, then drove to the vista point and left the car to await our return down the fire road. Much easier making the .8-mile walk on 1 solo without gear at 9:15 am rather than 1:30 pm.

Re: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: Tanbark Trail

Post by CJH on Thu Dec 31, 2015 12:13 pm

Date Hiked: December 30, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

One of my favorite hikes. A number of downed trees, mostly passable by scrambling over. One tanbark near the top requires a little contortion to get through. Also, after squeezing through that tree, do a solid tick check. Definitely passable, but factor in a little extra time.

Re: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: Tanbark Trail

Post by gfelsman on Sat Oct 24, 2015 7:52 pm

Date Hiked: October 24, 2015
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Had a chance to hike the Tanbark Trail with 11 friends today. The weather was perfect. Overall the trail is in fair shape with encroaching brush. There are four downed trees between the start of the trail and fire road. One is laying lengthwise across the trail for 20 feet or so. Care must be taken to cross this log. The others are relatively easy to cross. Right at the Tin House a huge tree has fallen across the road. We skirted the tree by goin to the right side of the Tin House.

At lunch we were treated to a soaring Bald Eagle right in front of us.

Happy Hiking.

Re: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: Tanbark Trail

Post by jack_glendening on Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:56 am

Date Hiked: March 1, 2015
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

The Tan Bark Trail and its spur to Alta Vista have both been worked on recently and are in excellent shape. The only difficulty was one large redwood which had fallen on the trail which required a couple of steps on its spit-open trunk.


Re: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: Tanbark Trail

Post by kristih on Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:17 am

Date Hiked: January 7, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

For the first 2 miles the trail was fairly clear and then we encountered three very large deadfalls that required quite a bit of maneuvering to cross over. Three large redwoods ( one very recent) have fallen and there were several other ( maybe 4) smaller deadfalls that were much easier to pass. I have photos of several of the deadfalls but no way to post them here it appears. All in all this is a beautiful, beautiful trail but a very significant 3.5 mile steady climb to the top. It was pretty amazing to see the remnants of the 2008 fire and how the forest has reawakened. I was accompanied by my two 20 something daughters who were less than enthused about the hike, but I found the fast running streams (crossings were very good except in one spot, where if rainfall had been more recent, crossing could have really been difficult!) and towering trees and solitude just breathtaking. The tin house at the top is very hidden by tremendously overgrown brush. We hiked down the fire road and then traversed the mile up highway one to our car. This part of the 'hike' included a couple of rather tight road shoulders that on a busier traffic day would have been very several spots we hopped over the guardrail to get a bit farther away from the oncoming traffic.

Re: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: Tanbark Trail

Post by Guest on Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:51 pm

Date Hiked: August 3, 2012
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

This trail is in excellent condition for the most part. There are two downed trees across the path and some overgrown encroaching greenery toward the top, but overall clear and very pleasant to hike. The trail climbs steadily through grove after grove of blackened redwood trees, some old growth and lots of young trees. The trees appear to be healthy in spite of a recent fire. Saw no wildlife other than birds.
Weather was classic summer Big Sur, with fog hugging the coast and trying to creep up the canyon but chased back by heat. Flies were a problem for a mile or so of the trail with lots of swatting. As the wind kicked up later, the bugs fled. No encounters with ticks. Incredible views in all directions up top, but of course to the east bigger mountains loomed.
Tin house was interesting but in a serious state of deterioration with crashed-in roof in one section and walls rusty and buckling. Some graffiti written here and there but with the end of a burnt stick, so will wash away with rain.
Overall, a great trail with strenuous climbing through the different ecosystems that Big Sur has to offer.

Re: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: Tanbark Trail

Post by Joni on Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:05 pm

Date Hiked: July 28, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

This trail has been restored very well as others have also said. There were only two (maybe a third) fallen trees blocking the trail but nothing you could not move around. My hiking companion was able to pass through with a large backpack even. There is an area where the trail must have suffered a landslide, however, it is now able to be crossed thanks to two planks of wood. Some deer flies near the creek areas and after being stopped at the Tin House for a while. Overall a very enjoyable hike!

Re: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: Tanbark Trail

Post by riatch on Thu Mar 08, 2012 5:19 pm

Date Hiked; March 4, 2012

Trail is Clear.

The trail is clear from Highway 1 up to the unmarked intersection with the Overstrom Trail. You can tell that a great deal of work went into recovering the Tanbark Trail. I can only imagine how many trees, rocks and boulders had to be removed to clear this trail. I was blown away by the fire's impacts on the redwoods and tanbarks. Mother nature will run her course, but for now views are available that did not exist prior to the Basin Complex fire ... and there is a free-for-all under the canopy as a variety of plants vie for purchase on the nutrient-rich soil. Unfortunately, non-native invasives are part of this mix.

We hiked a bit up the Overstrom Trail ... hoping to visit Alta Vista ... but the wind event of 11/30-12/01 knocked down many trees and blocked the trail and we were not prepared to hike through freshly-emerging poison oak on this warm March day. Hopefully folks will re-establish this route.

After lunch at the Tin House (which sure did bake in '08 and it is now engulfed by scotch broom), we took the new connector over to the Ewoldsen Trail. Thanks to the people who made this connector happen! We did not know the Ewoldsen Trail was closed as there was no signage up top. So we took the route down along the stream that is predominantly amongst the redwoods and it was delightful despite the relatively recent ravages of fire. We hiked down to the parking area of JPBSP and was very kindly given a ride back to Partington and our vehicle by the first couple we asked for a ride.

This is a wonderful loop. We snapped this shot of a columbine that day. Kinda early for columbines, no?

Re: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: Tanbark Trail

Post by jack_glendening on Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:42 pm

Date Hiked: October 2, 2011
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

The Overstrom Trail from the Tan Bark Trail up to Alta Vista (0.6mi & 450ft gain) has recently been worked on by a crew and is in excellent condition all the way to Alta Vista. If you haven't yet visited the historic Alta Vista site, this is a good time to do it since in the past the trail has often been overgrown.

Re: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: Tanbark Trail

Post by gfelsman on Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:35 pm

Date Hiked: July 16, 2011
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Darlene and I had a great hike yesterday on the Tanbark Trail at Julia Pfeiffer State Park. The trail has been recently repaired making for good hiking. The weather was perfect and the skies were clear. No bugs to speak of. Lots of flowers and great views. We were treated to 3-4 Condors soaring overhead.

There are two downed trees near the top, Each 2-3 feet in diameter. They are stuck together and at a steep angle. Getting over was not as easy as one would like, just take care in this section.

The trail crews are still working on the trail improving it each day.

Here is a video of our trip

Also we got a pleasant surprise as we turned right on the fire road descending to the Tin House.

We saw on the left a new trail or rebuilt long lost trail. We will call it the Ewoldsen Connector for now. This is a 1.2 mile traverse losing 400 feet connecting to the Ewoldsen Overlook Point. This new section of trail allows for a wider variety of hiking at Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP. One can take the Ewoldsen Trail to the Tin House and back. or go up the Tanbark Trail to the Tin House, descend on one side of the Ewoldsen Loop, the return on the other side, then back down the fire road to HWY 1, then walk back to your car.

As of this writing Ewoldsen Trail was not open, but is getting close to opening it looke like several people are already walking portions of the repaired trail. Check the State Park Website for latest conditions.