Distance: 6.2 miles round trip on trail
Summit Elevation: 2458'
Elevation Gain: 2200'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.76
Round trip time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Recommended water: 32 oz.
Parking/Fees: $2 State Park Fee
Gaviota Peak is #69 on the Lower Peaks list. The trail starts in Gaviota State Park just off Highway 101, about 33 miles north of Santa Barbara, but the peak itself resides in Los Padres National Forest. There is a self-registration fee for parking. I filled the little packet with my $2 day hike fee, then started off before the park officially opened at 7 AM. I was the only car in the lot when I got there and the only car in the lot when I got back.
There are two trails to the summit. The main trail is wide and more direct, while the Trespass Trail is supposed to have better views. I knew when I drove up that the low cloud cover was going to kill the views so I took the main trail. There were large oaks and sycamores in the first mile. It was an easy trip up to the saddle below Gaviota where I took a right turn onto a single track for the last bit. Along the way, there were a few use trails branching off in different directions. Some of them were minor shortcuts I took on the way back. There were no real obstacles or challenges and the clouds took away the views, so the hike was kind of blah. The elevation profile is nearly a perfect inverted V. Bob Burd's description of the large metal register holder as a trash bin was accurate. I signed the book on the top of the pile and put it back to get lost with the others. The upside to the clouds was that it stayed cool all the way and I only needed half the water I brought. If I'm back in the area with good weather and some time to kill, I might have to try this one again.
Other trip reports:
Gaviota Peak (Bob Burd's California Travels)