Partington Cove: A Beautiful Hike in Big Sur

Partington Cove is just another unmarked turn off on the beautiful Big Sur coastline that has something awesome to see. There is a gate and small dirt turn out, but if you don’t know what you were looking for, you would quickly pass right by it. Doing that would be a mistake though, as this short, steep hike is one of my favorites in the Big Sur area. It takes you through a 60-foot tunnel to an immaculate cove with a single bench you can sit on at the end and incredible views. Here is all the info.


  • 1-mile round trip
  • 250 feet of elevation


Here is a video I shot when I went in 2018.

Getting There

This trail starts on a small turn out about 20 miles south of the Big Sur Cafe, for directions to near the location check out the map at the end of the post. As of 2018, you can pull up Partington Cove in Google MapsWhen you reach the turnout, you will see a closed gate and a steep dirt road down to the water and forest below. This is the path you will take to the cove.

Paddington Cove 3

From here, you continue down until you start to see the water. From this vista, you will see the junction below you and will take the path across the bridge to the old tunnel.

Paddington Cove 18

When you reach the junction, the middle path crosses over a bridge, and that is the one you will take.

Paddington Cove 7

This trail bends around until you see the 60-foot tunnel ahead of you.

Paddington Cove 9

This tunnel is about 6.5 feet tall and 7 feet wide.

As you make your way through the tunnel, you will start to see the beginning of one of the most beautiful coves you will ever see.

Paddington Cove 15

This cove reminded me of something that you would run into on Hawaii, as the water is so clear you can see the kelp and what seems to be the ocean floor below.

Paddington Cove 12

The path continues for about 100 feet until it ends at a small bench that is indeed a fantastic California coastal viewpoint.

Paddington Cove 16

Here is Amie at the same spot in 2018, when we went back again.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can climb out on the rocks and look at the remains of what used to be a loading area for the tanbark that they would ship out of the cove.

Paddington Cove 11

I always find this type of urban / nature mixture fascinating to photograph as it tells the history of human and nature interaction and often leaves a scar.

I sat out on the rocks for a while and just took it all in before walking back through the tunnel and starting the climb up the dirt road to where I parked.

If you are looking for a quick stop, this is a beautiful place to explore while traversing Big Sur, and I highly recommend it. Hopefully, the directions below will help you find it.

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