Gaviota Peak Elevation: 2,458′ Miles: ~6.5 Miles Trail head Agency: Los Padres National Forest
I was eager to do a hike that was on an established trail, since Cathedral Peak was pretty strenuous. Since it was on a trail, I decided to invite some coworkers, Kiph and Sunshine. They've been asking to join me since I started working in Santa Barbara and this seemed like a good hike to invite them.
We got up early, met at a spot in Goleta and headed west down the 101 towards Gaviota. There were two things that I heard about this hike: 1. The peak has amazing views, 2. The Trespass Trail was not to be missed. As a result, I decided to do this hike in a loop, coming up the back side of the mountain, following the ridge to the peak, and then go to the front of range and follow the Trespass Trail down.We made it to the trail head in good time and were eager to start the hike so that we could get warm. It dawned on us that the sun wouldn't warm us up until we achieved the ridge line above. Trails criss-crossed the area and I had to stop and check my map several times to make sure we were on the right path. I believe we ended up taking a short cut up a well-worn path straight up the hillside. Ultimately, it seems, as long as you are going up, you will make it to the right trail. It took me a while for my lungs to warm up, but once I did, the miles flew by behind us. We occasionally stopped and looked at the ever-improving view of the hills behind us, but mostly we chatted about work and other fun stuff.
After a while, we made it to the ridge line and this is where the hike really opened up. The views of the ocean were amazing and the sun energized us. I love hiking on a ridge line. We made a right and started gaining some elevation. Before long, we were at the peak. I know I keep saying this, but the views from the peaks in Santa Barbara have been incredible.
We enjoyed the views all the way around. The weather was perfect. We took a ton of pictures and enjoyed our time on the peak. I had a hankering for a geocache, but it appeared to be deep within the brush and I wasn't in the mood for a bushwhacking excursion.
It was time to start heading down the Trespass Trail. It was a little overgrown in places, grabbing at my clothes and trekking poles, but it was beautiful. I felt like I was exposed to several different geographic areas. The views of the ocean and hills changed as we lost elevation. We encountered a small cave, which, of course, had been graced with graffiti. I don't know how to properly describe this trail, other than to say that it was interesting. We also skirted a marshy area, which was damp from the recent rains. We walked beside tall brush and interesting rocks.
We wrapped around the ridge and could see the 101 far below us. The trail descended quickly back to the car.
Sufficiently hungry and happy for the beautiful hike, we had a large breakfast and parted ways. It was a great hike and I highly recommend it. It was wonderful to share it with friends.