Partington Cove Overview
While exploring the Big Sur area of the Northern California coast my Fiancé and I quite by accident stumbled on a short but amazingly beautiful hike.
While at a gas station I was looking at my phone to see where I was on Google Maps, and while scrolling I saw a little camera Icon and clicked on it and that's how I found out about Partington Cove. Since it was close by and my route back south, we decided to pull over and see what it had to offer! It ended up having some of my favorite views of the coast the entire trip!
The main trail down to the rocky coast and back is just about a mile round trip but there are a couple of small side adventures I recommend you check out while you are exploring.
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Partington Cove Trail Map
You can check out the Caltopo Map above here, or navigate to the trailhead on Google Maps.
Partington Cove Trail Parking
Parking along the 1 can be tricky and it was pretty packed during memorial day weekend, and I can only expect it to get more crowded during the middle of the summer. Once you park, be careful walking along the highway to the start of the trailhead because there is not a whole lot of room. Once you get on the trail and start heading down the craziness of the highway above quickly fades away into a magical forest.
Partington Cove Trail Guide
The trail, in the beginning, is pretty wide and not too rocky, it's pretty worn down from foot traffic over the years and has awesome views of the forest and ocean below.
As the trail makes the final switchback before dipping below the tree line, there is an amazing spot for photography looking out toward the ocean below. I whipped out my tripod for my camera and started snapping:
For this trip, I purchased an ND filter for my camera (Basically camera sunglasses), and this was my first opportunity to use it!
Also from this vantage point, you can see one of the cool features of this hike, the tunnel! The main part of this trail that heads to Partington Cove cuts straight through one of the points jutting out into the ocean and you get to go through a crazy cool tunnel.
Once finished up taking pictures from the point, head down the trail a little more and there is an intersection to a couple of different short hikes. The main trail to Partington Cove heads straight over the footbridge. If you turn left you will head up the river deeper into the forest for a short way to a small waterfall. If you turn right you head down a trail to a cool rocky beach.
For this guide, we will head over the footbridge on the main trail to start and head toward Partington Cove.
Once across the footbridge, you will be in the forest under the trees, and it's pretty crazy how different and far away you feel just from the trail you were on 5 minutes before. Under the towering trees, you feel like you are in a fairy tale and it's absolutely beautiful!
The walk through the forest is pretty short-lived and at the end of the forest path you come up to the tunnel, which is pretty sweet. It most definitely is not a modern tunnel, and it's pretty nifty walking through the entire ridge out to the cove on the other end.
Once you get through the tunnel to the other side, you are up on path along a cliff edge that hugs the point. If you follow this out to the end there are plenty of rocks you can go exploring on (Be careful!) or just sit down and enjoy the peaceful view.
After enjoying this view and exploring the cliffs a little we ended up walking back toward the footbridge to the original intersection that we hit. This time we took the trail down toward the rocky beach.
The trail going down to the rocky beach is definitely the less traveled bath which was evident by the much thinner trail that was almost beginning to become overgrown compared to the wideness of the main trail down.
This trail is worth checking out and brings you much closer to the water than the main trail that cut through the tunnel. What's neat at this rocky beach is that the river that went under the footbridge we went over earlier, empties out of the forest and into the ocean at the beach and is an awesome sight!
Once again I broke out my ND filter on my camera and had some fun taking pictures of the moving water:
After exploring the rocky beach, having a snack and drinking some water we once again headed back up to the footbridge. We then took the third and final trail up river back into the forest a little more. I didn't take a whole lot of pictures on this trail due to the number of down trees. I needed two hands while we climbed up and over them to a small waterfall.
Once done exploring, enjoy the nice slow hike up and out of the canyon back to your car, and once again be careful walking along the highway!
🗺️ Other Nearby Adventures
- Los Burros Road - Great free dispersed camping location with views of the ocean!
- Prewitt Ridge - A great off roading spot to some amazing ocean view camping spots. Very similar to Los Burros Road