Gaviota State Park

Had an awesome day.  Started at about 6:30 am under cool, overcast conditions.  Halfway through the hike the clouds burned off to reveal fantastic looking mountains.  I felt strong on this day.

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After the 101 makes a sharp right turn to the north, look for the Gaviota State Park signs.  Make a left across the freeway and follow the road down to the Kiosk.  Just before the kiosk is a road that runs a short way uphill to the right.  Look for the trailhead on the right side.  The first half mile or so is on a paved road.

3     5   Photo 1 – There are two trails that run up the first hill.  They form a loop, so once you get to the top of the hill don’t keep going down the other side.  Both hills are very steep but short.  Photo 2 – When you get to the top of the first hill look around for the turn-off where the trail continues up the hill.  It’s a little hard to recognize at first because it’s narrow and above these rocks.  You have to hike up these rocks to get to it.


Looking down Gaviota Pass and the 101 Freeway.

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I headed toward these awesome sandstone formations.  The first formation is an amazing cave.  I explored it for a second on the way up and stopped for several minutes on my way down, taking photos later in the day.

8     9     10   Now headed for the big rock formation which is pocked with holes and caves.  The trail took me right up to one of the caves.

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I kept climbing up the trail, sometimes over steep rock sections.  Photo 2 – Baby’s Ugg boot hanging on a branch alongside the trail.  Photo 3 – The Beach to Backcountry Trail ends at a fire road.  To the left the road takes you down and deeper into the park.  To the right the road takes you a half mile to the overlook mentioned previously.  The overlook has an antenna and small building.


Looking down from the overlook.  Just to the right of those elevated train tracks is where I parked.

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20       21   I backtracked to the junction and headed down the hill.  Just a short walk down the hill the trail splits.  I took the trail on the left, Hollister Trail.  After walking awhile I became confused at a junction.  For some reason I got it in my head to go left up this very steep trail.  My mistake.  At the top of the hill things started getting rough but I kept following the faint trail.  Finally I reached what was basically a dead end.  I guess I didn’t turn around sooner because I didn’t want to have to go back through all that scratchy brush.

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Nice views from the wrong way trail.

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30   I kept going on this wide trail/road and noticed a fire road breaking off sharply to the right.  This is Las Cruces Trail, which I would take later.  I kept on going straight toward the rocks in photo 1 in search of a shady spot to have lunch.  I followed the road to the park boundary, about three quarters of a mile from the junction with the Las Cruces Trail.  Some of the hills in the area looked like soft suede.  Photo 4 – Twin Beds


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Now heading down Las Cruces Trail, which took me down to the freeway.  I was surprised to find that the trail took me right across from the parking area for the Gaviota Peak trailhead, just across the 101. At the very bottom I picked up the fire road.  First I headed to the left a few yards where the fire road begins.  I then turned around and headed back in the direction from which I had originally come.  The road at the bottom, again it parallels the 101 for awhile, had some much welcome shade.

36   I knew I would eventually have to make a climb back up to the top again.

37   I came to another junction in the trail.  To the left is a short trail that leads to this bridge.  I think there is a trail right across the road but I’m not sure how people get down under the bridge.


I backtracked and started my climb up the hill.


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Now back on the first trail I took, the Beach to Backcountry Trail, narrow and sandy.

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Gaviota Pier and the elevated train tracks below.

45     47     48   I passed one of the caves in the big rock formation.  I love the interesting erosion inside the cave.

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I stopped to rest inside the cave in the smaller rock formation. This cave was great, one of the most livable caves I have been in. There are a couple of “rooms”, good shelter but plenty of light, and lots of headroom. There is even a nice sense of privacy because of the big tree that is growing into the mouth of the cave.


Peaking through the openings inside the cave at Gaviota State Park.

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54   Great day, thank you Gaviota.

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