Gaviota Peak is a small mountain located west of Santa Barbara in the Los Padres National Forest. Although the main attractions in the area are the Gaviota Hot Springs and Gaviota State Beach, Gaviota Peak provides a moderate day hike with amazing views of the ocean and Channel Islands.
From Santa Barbara, drive North on Highway 101 for about 37 miles to the exit marked Highway 1/Lompoc. At the top of the exit ramp, take a hard right and go about a quarter mile to the parking area marked Gaviota State Park. There is a fee of $2 to park (this may have changed in the last few years since I have been there).
The trail starts out just above sea level and climb over 2000 feet to the peak at 2458'. Hike east from the parking lot on the unpaved road and follow the trail to a junction with the Trespass Trail. Stay left and continue to a stream crossing. There is another junction here. The right fork will take you to the Gaviota Hot Springs. The left fork continues up the peak. My advice: hit the hot springs on the way back.
Gaviota Hot Springs
The trail continues steadily up with several switchbacks to the NF boundary. Continue on the trail till you reach a metal gate and take the right fork to reach the final ridge to the peak.
Final ridge to Gaviota Peak summit.
Return on the same trail to the hot springs and back to the car.
RT: ~6 miles
Estimated time: ~ 3 hours
Elevation gain: 2462'
The best camping in the area is at El Capitan State Beach. The tidepools are worth a stop at least. Any pictures or further campsite information is appreciated.