This unmistakable landmark along Highway 1 harbors one-of-a-kind flora and fauna on 4,262 acres of steep, rugged terrain.
Threatened, rare and endangered plants and animals, including Hickman's cinquefoil, Montara manzanita, San Francisco garter snakes and the Montara blue bush lupine.
Distance: 4 miles round trip
Elevation change: 3,590′
Hiking time: 4 hours
Trail surface: Packed dirt
Best Season: All year
Managing agency: National Park Service
Parking lot location: Click here for directions
Overview: Less than 10 miles from San Francisco, the 4,262-acre Rancho Corral de Tierra offers awe-inspiring ocean views, habitat for several endangered species, vital watersheds, and rich farmland.
There is no designated parking lot for this hike but there is ample parking off the side of the road at the junction of Etheldore Street and Ranch Road. Be sure to park with all four wheels off the street pavement.
From the parking area, climb Ranch Road past the Ember Ridge Equestrian Center. Navigating this section of the trail is notoriously confusing and we suggest following along as best you can with a smartphone or GPS device (see map below for reference). Behind the equestrian buildings, continue onto the ridge and follow the Spine Ridge Trail for four miles out-and-back (or further if you’re feeling up to it). With 1,500 feet of elevation, this hike can take you above the fog and on a clear day, you can see POST-protected Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay. Pack a windbreaker and sunscreen as the hike is exposed and can get breezy!
This natural gem was slotted for development into large estate residences until POST intervened. POST bought the land from 2001 – 2003 and sold almost 4,000 acres to the National Park Service in 2011. The remaining acres continue to be used by a small farm operation. Rancho Corral de Tierra is now the southern gateway to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.