A Gaviota Getaway
Hike of the Month: Gaviota Peak
Length of Trail: 6 miles round trip
Elevation: Approximately 2,150 Feet
Level of Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
How to Get There: Drive north from Santa Barbara for 30 miles on highway 101. When the freeway turns inland and passes through the Gaviota tunnel, take the next exit for California One (Lompoc/Vandenberg AFB) and turn right. Immediately after turning right make another right and follow the Gaviota Park Boundary Road a third-of-a-mile to the dead end parking lot. Special Note: Parking is $2. Bring one dollar bills to use in the self-payment kiosk.
Description: Need to get out of town? Not just a little out of town, really out of town— away from power lines, busy footpaths, and a city view covered with a quilt of roofs and roads? Gaviota Peak is just the place. Located 30 miles east of Santa Barbara, the trail offers a convenient getaway that won’t take the whole day. From the parking lot, the trail rises up for the next 3 miles. A nearby junction presents hikers with the choice to turn right and hike up a single-track trail or left to ascend a well maintained fire road. Choosing the fire road, hikers can take a breather at the popular Gaviota Hot Springs. Immediately following a creek-crossing, turn right and follow the narrow trail to the bubbling hot springs. After taking a dip, continue to climb up the fire road until the top of Gaviota Peak. From the summit, the panoramic view includes ocean and islands, coastal beaches, and inland mountain terrain. Hikers can return via the fire road or use the single-track trail to complete a loop. Both are comparable in distance but the single track offers more ocean views and a unique experience winding through a deep gorge. But beware hiking the single-track trail as it’s very narrow and overgrown. Wearing long pants will protect legs from shrubs and sticks. Past an outcropping of small caves and several fences the trail follows around the mountain, returning to the junction and parking area. Approximately a 6-mile loop that can take 3 hours, Gaviota Peak presents a fantastic way to escape the hustle and bustle of town, without waiting in traffic.