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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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