The sign at the equestrian Center says Equestrian Parking Only. You are supposed to park on Etheldore Street, about 0.7 miles away at the beginning of Ember Ranch Road
. There are 2-3 spaces there and another 3-4 spaces about 100 yards up Etheldore towards town. You can get by with parking at the equestrian center as long as the lot is not crowded and does not become crowded while you are hiking and you do not in any way block the equestrian trailers, including those trying to get out the gate.
At the end of Ember Ranch Road
, go through the gate for the Ember Ridge Equestrian Ctr and hike south, away from the road and between the stables, until you find the start of the trail. From the start, you quickly come to a gate that blocks access to an agricultural area. The circular part of the trail starts about 25 yards above this just as the trail switches back south. The return trail is the smaller looking trail that forks off to the north and climbs the ridge above the stables. You can take this, if you just want to get to the Spine Trail
The larger appearing trail, which we are following now, passes above an agricultural pond and then climbs a shallow canyon. About 200 years farther up, our trail branches south, while a wider horse-used trail continues up the canyon. Our trail continues, with minor ups and downs, across a sunny open area covered with grasses and wildflowers in the spring and early summer. After rains, this part can be soggy, but it is a sandy mud that does not sticks much to your boots. The trail then climbs fairly steeply up the ridge above Denniston Creek for about 200 feet in elevation. The higher you climb, the better are the panoramas of the fields, ocean, airport, harbor and Pillar Point.
After the steep part, the trail continues slowly climbing to the northeast towards a eucalyptus forest. Along the way there are views of the main ridge from The Knob and South Peak all the way to Scarper Peak. At the trail's high point in the forest, it meets the junction with the Spine Trail
. About 200 yards down from here is a junction with the other end of the horse-used trail that we saw before. You could return that way, but the nicer trail continues ahead and goes down the ridge that is above San Vicente Creek and the equestrian center. When you reach the junction with the first part of the Farmers Daughter trail, return to Ember Ranch Road