Rancho Corral de Tierra means “Earthen Corral” in English. This massive tract of undeveloped land is an exciting new addition to the Golden Gate National Park, which now strings along the coast and mountainous interior from the Marin Headlands to San Mateo County.
The 3,858 acre, pristine area lies 10 miles from San Francisco, California and was the largest continuous parcel of undeveloped land on the San Mateo Peninsula of northern California. The parcel was once scheduled or development, but was rescued by a legendary land preservation organization.
According to the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, Rancho Corral de Tierra has its modern day origins in a 1839 Mexican Land Grant to Francisco Guerrero y Palomares, who built the first adobe structure on the San Mateo coast. The adobe structure was built at Denniston Creek.
The Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) is a non profit land preservation organization in the San Mateo County area. The POST organization has saved a total 70,000 acres of land from development. During the years 2001 to 2003, POST collected private funds, purchased the Rancho Corral de Tierra acreage, and eventually transferred it in trust to the United States in 2011. The acerage actually came to 4,262 acres, but 404 acres are set aside for existing farms and agricultural operations.
The deal qualified Rancho de Corral Tierra for $15 million in Federal matching funds and a congressional designation of the land as a national public trust.
And what did the public get? An incredible swath of land that is near the sea to the West, containing rich agricultural and farmlands, and boasting Montara Mountain’s 2,000 foot peak. Montara Mountain achieves 2,000 feet in height in just one mile, leading to incredible views of the ocean and surrounding lands. Rancho Corral de Tierra also hosts vital watersheds and a multitude of habitats for endangered and other species.
The National Parks Service has now taken over management of the huge trust and will work with the California State Parks and San Mateo County agencies to develop trails systems. These systems will include new trails, trail heads and trail connections.
Cabrillo Farms and Ocean View Farms constitute 404 acres that are not part of the public park. Visitors are asked to respect that the working farms and agricultural businesses are not to be interfered with or the lands accessed without permission.
Rancho Corral de Tierra currently has only two official accesses to the park. The first is at Gray Whale Cove and the second access is via a hike through McNee Ranch State Park at Half Moon Bay. For more information, visit the Parks conservancy website with an understanding that the management is new and the park is in the very early stages of development.
The National Park Service has PDF maps of Rancho Corral de Tierra
On March 18, 2012, an event called “Ride On Through To The Other Side” will treat bikers to an 11 mile ride and bike techniques course with legendary mountain biker Jim Sullivan.