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Santa Barbara Hikes

Gaviota Hot Spring

Gaviota Peak and Campbell Trail, with a side trip to the hot spring

[out of 5]
 *  *  *  *
For:Long, steady uphill if you do the peak. Add primitive trail and even longer if you do Campbell trail. Give it a 1 if you go just to the hot spring.
Gaviota Hot Spring
Gaviota Hot Spring

The entire trail is a wide path that leads upwards with successively higher vistas of the 101 freeway winding through the hills. There is vegetation along the trail but not enough to give much shade so wear a hat. The trail is uniformly and moderately steep most of the way but gets slightly steeper at the end. At the top of the peak you get a fantastic view of the ocean which is hidden throughout the rest of the trail since you climb from behind the mountain. There is a register kept in a sturdy metal can at the peak where you can record your achievement. A nice side trip is a short hike from the trailhead to a hot spring. It's nice to take a dip in the pool after the hike or just sit on the rocks with your feet dipped in.

  • If you do Gaviota Peak, your total will be around 6 or 7 miles.
  • If you do the Campbell trail loop, your total will be around 11 miles.
  • If you just go to the hot spring, it's about 1 mile total round trip.

There is a fee to park your car. Last time I was there it was $2 but it could change. The trail is part of the California State Park system.

Algalita Research - Learn about the pelagic plastic problem

Gaviota Peak and hot spring Updates

Update trail conditions

Posted: June 7, 2014, 9:55 am
by: GerryC

Hiked the Trespass Trail 6/6/2014 and returned via the Tunnel View Trail and its extension. The Trespass Trail follows the route of an old fire road running oceanside of Gaviota Peak. The Tunnel View Trail intersects the beginning of the Trespass Trail and connects again to the Trespass Trail where it starts running parallel to the shoreline.

The Trespass Trail is in great shape. The Tunnel View Trail is also in good shape from the beginning to the junction with the trail that goes under US101. However, travel past that junction to the 2nd junction with the Trespass Trail is not recommended. The trail is over-grown and several sections pass thru heavy poison oak growth which are difficult to avoid.

Posted: February 9, 2013, 9:54 pm
by: kilo0tango

Made this hike today. Started uphill at about 8am. It got pretty chilly up near the peak but by 1000 it was a beautiful day. The hike up is like going to another world. I honestly felt like I was in Gorillas in the Mist or something since the fog only covered the peak. Was a very cool feeling. Made the loop coming down trespass trail. I was suprised to see how close the brush/trees got on the trail but we never lost direction. Most people say the hike takes 3 hours but if you are just looking for a workout and not stopping to take pictures, you can make this trip in closer to 2. I've posted this on a couple of hiking forums but I hope everyone stops parking up the road and just pays the $2 to park. Our parks are closing down due to low funding and parking outside the parking area to save $2 is absurd. Happy hiking! steep

Posted: May 2, 2011, 8:49 pm
by: Tamarra

The family and I hiked up to the hot springs this weekend, and enjoyed a luxurious 2 hour dip in the rather nasty black water. It was fantastic until the next day when all of the insect bites developed. We didn't see or feel a thing, but our arms and backs (the bits out of the water) are just a mess of huge itchy welts. Reading the internet, it looks like it might be midges. They are in breeding (and feeding) frenzy for only a few weeks in the spring, so perhaps put of the hike until the end of May? There is poison oak along the trail, but the last narrow bit is not too bad for that, and the rest of the trail is wide enough to drive a truck through. There is some poison oak hanging into the pool at the momment, but that is easier to avoid than nasty stealth midges. We will see if these welts last two weeks as the internet claims...

Posted: March 12, 2011, 4:33 pm
by: Luv2Hike

I'm kind of new to the Santa Barbara County area and this was my first Gaviota hike, much nicer than I expected! Although the Hot Springs didn't look as nice as the photos I found on the internet it was interesting geology at least. I really enjoyed the wooded trail lined by oaks and sycamores most of the way. A few wildflowers were already blooming. I hiked up Gaviota Peak Fireroad which was in pretty good condition. The side trail to the hot spring was near bushwacking in a few spots and I did notice some of that foliage was poison oak, but most appeared to be California Blackberries. I didn't get any reaction or have a problem with ticks either. I really enjoyed the hike. It was late in the day and I was by myself so I didn't go any further than the Hot Springs...next time. I did put some photos on my website, all dated 3/5/11 at http://www.caopenspace.org/gaviotahotspring.html
Can't wait until I go back here again! BTW the parking fee was still $2, I parked at the lot off Hwy 1 & 101. And I didn't notice any trash along the trails, if I had I would have picked it up. Thanks Santa Barbara Hikes! Your site is a great help!

Posted: November 10, 2010, 11:14 am
by: chrisdl805

Me and my buddy went hiking up the main trail with a side stop at the hot springs and when we got 3/4 of the way to the top I started to feel a pinch on my upper thigh. Sure enough it was a tick, and I glance over at my dog and can see at least 6 ticks on her side... So we freaked out, I pulled off my tick and we moved to a sunny, open part of the trail and started to clean off my dog. I didnt keep count but Id say she had at least 30 plus ticks on her. Will not be going back here again, too bad cause it was a fun hike.

Posted: October 3, 2010, 5:21 pm
by: Rokrover

This morning we eschewed the Tea Party hike for the charms of Campbell Trail east of Gaviota Peak. Actually, this was a mistake as we vowed never to return after the March 14 visit http://picasaweb.google.com/rokrover/CampbellTrailHike#

We had a different plan that proved too challenging and ended up in the creek along Campbell Trail with the choice of backing out or continuing. We chose the latter after so much skin in the game knowing full well the conditions ahead.

I often wonder why Campbell Trail is still included on SB Hikes under "Gaviota Peak and Campbell Trail, with a side trip to the hot spring" as it is long abandoned and hardly what most are looking for on a Sunday stroll in the hills. Web crawlers pick up on this to spawn the “attraction” in misleading hiking sites that only add to the confusion. At least the western trailhead is hard to spot.

Let me state definitively here and now Campbell Trail is NOT reasonable or pleasant after being abandoned by the Forest service. It has stagnated since our Spring hike there and the charming Corrie Meadow hardly compensates for the pain of crawling through the scratchy and clinging brush tunnel to get there.

There are several ambiguous parts of the "trail" that can mislead you into a heap of suffering. We knew better this time and compensated by hiking up Beacon Hill and getting some good shots of the Overlook rocks looking west.

Oh, and the highway up Gaviota Peak has been improved recently by grading the State Park section. This was never a problem for hikers anyway. steep

Posted: November 15, 2009, 9:25 am
by: ktaylor

I took our small hiking club from San Marcos HS up here yesterday. We took the Tresspass trail up to the peak, and returned on the road down the back. The views were absolutely spectacular: Point Mugu to Point Conception, and north to ? The Tresspass trail is excellent! The way views are revealed as you ascend are wonderful, and it's far more fun and interesting than the one down the back, but there are a few rough steep parts. No ticks this time, even through all the tall grasses, and the poison oak is mostly just dried out sticks with little white berries. You can still get a rash from it, though if you're sensitive to.

Posted: June 10, 2009, 4:28 pm
by: jbaysurfer

Hiked this trail to the peak today, and forwent(did I just make up a word?) the trespass part of the loop due to all the tick warnings. I actually plucked one tick off of my pants on the way up from the main trail which in a few (very few) sections has tall overgrown grasses.

It was very crowded for a wed. morning imho. The "Santa Ynez womens hiking club" was out with their group of 18 hikers, and a dozen of the vandenberg Hotshots were up there in full turnouts, axes and trail gear doing (presumably) fire prevention work.

Just as everyone said, this hike DOES seem longer going down then up. I think it's because it's not all that steep so you don't really tax yourself too much on the climb unless you're trying to push the pace.

The hike up is about the easiest 2k of vertical you could ask for though because of it's sustained "not too steep" pitch. The view from the top is outstanding, and might even inspire you to hike a different trail nearby (as it did me, and I'll be back out there soon).

Overall, I'm a mission canyon regular who probably needed to branch out a bit anyway, so I'm gonna look at the fire closures as opportunities. I already miss mission canyon though...I hope it gets reopened soon.

Posted: May 18, 2009, 4:09 pm
by: TJC

Since the fire has closed off a lot of the Front Country, decided to head up to Gaviota to check out this hike for the first time. Since I suspect a lot people might have the same idea, here's a warning:

A long stretch of the trail going down from the peak to the junction with Trespass Trail is currently infested with deer ticks. If you don't like ticks don't try to go through there because they were numerous and impossible to avoid.

That being said, I thought this was a really nice hike. The parking fee at the lot described here was still $2. The hike up the peak is quite a workout but the views are great. backpack

Posted: March 29, 2009, 1:21 pm
by: bman333

Decided to try the hike to the peak yesterday. It was a gorgeous sunny day w/ many hawks flying around and a few friendly fellow hikers on the trails. Went up the main trail to the peak, which was quite a bit more challenging than I expected but enjoyable nonetheless. We did not encounter any snakes or mountain lions thankfully, but two different people warned us about ticks in a way that made us somewhat paranoid for the rest of the hike (we were in shorts) but we did not get any. The view from the top is spectacular! There are a few rocks to sit on and have some lunch. After snapping a few pics we hiked down trespass trail which was VERY overgrown in many places and you have to tromp through bushes. At one point there is a pretty cool cave. The hike down seemed to be longer than the trail up (this could have been b/c we were tired) but was still beautiful. After we got to the bottom we hiked up the trail to the hot spring and soaked for a bit. Pretty rad hike overall Very Happy