Gaviota Peak (dayhike)

Trip Date: 3/11/2017

Location: Gaviota State Park

Permit/Pass: $2 self-pay at the trailhead box.

Trails: State Parks map

Directions: From Santa Barbara, drive up-coast (west) some 30 miles on Highway 101. After the road takes a big jog to the north, passes a rest stop and traverses a tunnel, look for and take Exit 132 - California One / Lompoc. After exiting the highway take two immediate right turns and follow the unsigned road to its end at a dirt parking area. 

Synopsis: If you're looking for a challenging and rewarding hike in the Santa Barbara area then look no further. Gaviota Peak gains over two thousand feet of elevation in just three miles, but rewards the hiker with amazing 360° summit vistas and, on a clear day, spectacular views of the Channel Islands just across the Santa Barbara Channel to the south. Following this track and looping around the south side of the mountain add more splendid scenery on the way down. 

Trail sequence: Gaviota Peak Trail (Fire Road) / Trespass Trail / Gaviota Peak 

Type: Loop

Distance: 6.7 miles

Elevation: Min. - 292', Max. - 2449'


Rating: Moderate-Difficult (factors: elevation gain, heat, steep sections, rutted trail, overgrowth)

Notes: A look at the profile above makes it obvious that, aside from that one brief respite at the half-mile mark, this trail climbs from start to finish. There are precious few yards of level ground over the three miles to the summit, so pick a good pace, hike your own hike, and take your time - the views are nice all the way up.

Another consideration: some other guides recommend that one take the Trespass Trail down to make a loop out of this hike. That trail was, at the time of this hike, a very difficult rutted single-track full of rocks half the way down. Unless you very much prefer downhills to uphills, you may find Trespass Trail to be a more comfortable climb than descent.

Track: Gaviota Peak - Gaviota SP: AllTrails, GaiaGPS


Turn by Turn:

  -- Head up the trail next to the signboard at the southeastern side of the parking area. The trail is a steep climb from the beginning. A short distance, maybe a couple of tenths of a mile, up you reach a junction with the connector for Trespass and Tunnel View trails on the right. Continue straight on Gaviota Peak Trail.

  -- Almost three miles of lazy switchbacks later you dead-end at the top of the ridge with a trail that runs east along the ridgeline. Turn right (west) to hike the last few yards up to the summit.

  -- Upon completing your summit activities, find the Trespass Trail just across the small clearing and begin the trip down. The path trends in a southwest to south direction for a mile or so before reaching a bowl where other trails connect. Avoid the temptation to cut the long loop around to the west and continue on Trespass as it heads just north of west now.

  -- Eventually the trail circles to the north and after a fairly level stretch begins the descent to the junction with Gaviota Peak Trail that you passed on your outbound leg. Turn left (west) here and drop down to the trailhead and your car.