Approximate Address: 37°30'42.5"N 122°28'58.6"W (End of Coral Reef Ave, El Granada, CA)
Parking: Ample parking at the end of Coral Reef Ave and in the surrounding neighborhood (please be respectful of residents)
Hours: Not posted
Type: Hike (Moderate to Strenuous)
Regulations: Dogs allowed on-leash
Best time to visit: Anytime as long as it’s not a hot day. This trail normally stays cooler than the surrounding area, but it is exposed to sunlight with little shade.
Description: This is a beautiful hike that may make you feel like you’re transported to Hawaii or a scene in Jurassic Park. This nearly 4,000 acres of land is the newest addition to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The park is divided by private farmland and inaccessible to hike between. There is no official public parking, but I checked out many entry points to find the best one. Parking at the end of Coral Reef Ave appears to be the safest and have the most parking of the alternatives. Alternative parking areas appeared dangerous and had longer hike-ins to reach the park.
From the parking area, walk directly up the hill, behind the green gate and into the forest of eucalyptus trees. Once you emerge from the trees, the trail splits off in multiple directions. Continue uphill. Once you reach the top of this short stretch you will have beautiful ocean views behind you. Continue hiking ahead and be aware that the trail is slightly overgrown in some areas. We saw poison oak off the trail but were able to avoid it on the trail. None of the trail heads are marked, but I did notice a hand-carved piece of wood hanging from a tree to my left that read “Clipper Ridge Trail.” This trail continues climbing, dips down, and then climbs up again a couple more times. We climbed 900ft in about 1.3 miles. We were surrounded by greenery, colorful flowers, and tall grass-like bushes that overtook the trail in some areas. Bunnies constantly scampered across the trails. We started early in the morning and hiked through a constant mist and some fog as we reached higher elevations. The unique flora combined with the fog/mist and feeling of hiking above the clouds made for an incredible hike. Once we reached a split in the trail, we turned left and began hiking down French Trail; however, you could continue up Clipper Ridge for a more strenuous hike. During our hike down, the trail appeared to be wider and better maintained, although less magical than the hike up. There were a couple stretches that climbed back up slightly, but it was mostly downhill to the end, with views of the ocean and surrounding area towards the bottom. Towards the bottom of French Trail, you will pass through a gate with a sign for Rancho Corral de Tierra, and right after, the trail splits off sharply to the left. This section of the trail is narrow, a little overgrown, and it feels as if you are walking through a tunnel of trees and bushes. After a short walk, you will arrive back near where you started (on the other side of the street). If you originally parked right next to the starting trailhead, you will arrive back on the left side of that area. Since this park has no trail markers, I used a free app called “Footpath” which I referred to periodically to make sure I was on the correct trail. I highly recommend that app but it’s hard to get lost if you just keep hiking straight ahead and up and then find the split for French Trail. My app showed we hiked a total of 3.31 miles, and during our hike we only ran into two other people with a dog.
After our hike we headed to Pacifica and got the best crab sandwich I've ever had at Nick's Seafood Restaurant. We enjoyed our takeout at Rockaway Beach next-door.
This park does not have restrooms or running water
Parking area and trail photos: