If you haven’t heard of Rancho Corral de Tierra, you’re not alone. Just inland from the beach north of Half Moon Bay, the 3,858-acre space wasn’t designated as a national park until 2011, and the word’s still not out.
The park is a work in progress—many of the park’s trails are unmarked, and some are steep, eroded, and rocky. But we decided to take a chance on it this weekend, and we’re really, really glad we did.
Our favorite hike? A moderate 6.1 miles that includes a loop on the San Vicente Trail, followed by a loop on the Farmer’s Daughter Trail. The two trails are connected by a path that runs through the Ember Ridge Equestrian Center. For a longer day, add 4.4 miles by going out and back on the Spine Trail.
If you go: Watch your step along the uneven terrain and take plenty of water. Rancho doesn’t yet have any parking lots or trail signs to guide your way, so make sure to bring a GPS tracker and a trail map. Leashed dogs are allowed.
To help build trails and improve Rancho Corral, check out upcoming opportunities with the Golden Gate Trail Crew.
Getting there (San Vicente Trail): From Gray Whale Cove State Beach, head south about three miles on Highway 1. Turn left onto Etheldore Street. In about 400 feet, look for Ranch Road on your right. Park near the Ember Ridge sign. The San Vicente Trail starts to the left of the sign.
Words and photo by Maria Zilberman.