Gaviota State Park Hot Springs

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Gaviota Peak Fire Road, heading toward the Hot Springs

Gaviota State Park is located about 33 miles North of Santa Barbara, one of three California State Parks on the scenic "Gaviota Coast".  One of the park attractions are it's miles of moderate to challenging hiking trails. 

This page describes a hike on the inland side of the park (near the Highway 1 and 101 junction) to a natural hot springs on a side trail off Gaviota Peak Fire Road.  The area is known mountain lion habitat, you are responsible for your own safety.  Please also see our safety page for tips.  Click any pic on this page to enlarge. 

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Gaviota Peak Fire Road Trail Head

The photo (left) shows the trailhead.  There is a $2 parking fee.  You will find many mountain lion warning signs throughout Gaviota Park, most likely the result of a small boy was attacked at Gaviota back in 1992, as in all wilderness areas just use caution and don't go alone.  Most of the hike I found was very scenic, oak and sycamore groves and riparian habitat.  A running stream could be heard from the trail all the way to the hot springs but not very visible due to the thick foliage. 

Directions to the trailhead:  traveling on Hwy 101 North through Gaviota Pass take the Hwy 1 exit right and then a quick right following a small road running along the North bound side of the 101.  You will pass over a creek and see what appears to be an interesting pump house.  The road dead ends into the parking lot. 

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Gaviota Peak Fire Road

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View from Gaviota Peak Fire Road

The three pics below show the beginning of the narrow trail to the hot springs from Gaviota Peak Fire Road.  At this point the stream runs under and across the fire road and it's a little squishy walk across a thick blanket of leaves and mud.  The trail was so narrow it was impossible not to brush up against plants, mostly California Blackberry intermingled with poison oak.  They say ticks are a problem too but I got out with none and with no rash. 

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Beginning of the trail to the hot springs (off Gaviota Peak Fire Rd)

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Junction of Gaviota Peak Fire Rd & Hot Springs Trail

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California Blackberry...similar to the "leaves of 3 let it be" poison oak

After about .3 more miles of potentially ichy hiking the trail ends at the hot springs.  Not far up this trail you begin to smell the sulphur odor.  The lower pool had a little less water and more murk than pics I had seen on other websites but the upper pool was full of black water which several hikers were enjoying a lukewarm soak (therefore no upper pool pics, it was full of people). 

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Narrow trail to the hot springs

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Gaviota Hot Springs, the lower pool

Below a couple of pics on the way back down, the scenery and occasional views were nice, by now the sun is going down so lighting not good, the pics don't do it justice. 

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Oak Tree growing along the trail

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Hillside views going back to the parking area

For more information (including camping reservations) see the official Gaviota State Park page on the California State Parks website:  http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=606

Below, a few links to mountain lion information.  In my hiking adventures I've run across the big cats 3 times, a little understanding of the animal is helpful in safely dealing with an encounter.  I watched a nature show on mountain lions and the predator-prey response, what triggers that in an attack on humans, interesting. 

Picture of a mountain lion track, lots of good info on other wildlife, California Dept of Fish & Game: 
http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/lion.html

Know how a mountain lion behaves, assess your risk if you see one--mountain lion body language: http://www.sdgfp.info/wildlife/MountainLions/Language.htm

What to do if faced by Mountain Lion or other wildlife:
http://www.santaclaritaguide.com/Wildlife.html

What to do if you see a mountain lion: http://www.ehow.com/how_1791_survive-encounter-with.html


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