Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,150.00 ft (350.52 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
4.80 mi (7.72 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Gaviota Pass Overlook is one of the more rugged and demanding trails inside the Gaviota State Park. As such, hikers will usually encounter few others and will instead have lush views across the rugged interior landscapes of the state park to themselves while here.

Though the peak can also be accessed from the Gaviota Peak Trailhead and San Julian Road park access points, the most direct route begins at the free parking area down Hollister Ranch Road near the beach entrance gate. The first 1.2 miles of the hike follows the same course as the Gaviota Wind Caves hike. However most hikers will turn around after reaching the Wind Caves. From here, the trail becomes a narrow single track that weaves, climbs and drops along the interior landscapes of the Santa Ynez Mountains. It reaches and crosses a couple narrow saddles, all the while generally climbing before finally it drops into a shady area of the park where the sun- and wind-prone plants have given way to cooling grasses and large oak trees with sprawling shade canopies.

A couple intersections are encountered along the way, however if hikers continue to veer left, the route heads higher into the hills on a wide dirt track. This road is used by vehicles on occasion to reach the towers at the end of the Pass Overlook hike, however most of the time they will be empty and leave visitors who've made it this far with wide views of the surrounding mountains.

Upon reaching the towers, a couple noticeable paths through the brush lead to boulders perched high atop the canyon looking down on the highway and the tunnel which has been carved to allow cars to pass right through the mountain. The end comes at about 2.4 miles in, with the final elevation deceivingly lower than all of the up and down scrambling over the course of the trail would make it seem.

From here, retrace your route back. Otherwise, it may also be possible to head further into the interior trails or even plan beforehand for a shuttle with another vehicle to start at one end of the park and hike to the other.

There are no dogs allowed on the trail. Much of the initial climb is up an exposed mountainside, so hikers planning to hit this trail during the warmer months should plan for this ahead. There are no amenities of any kind anywhere along the trail. The hike is open daily from 8am to sunset.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Variety of terrain. Land features along the route.

Cons

Highway views at the peak.

Trailhead Elevation

50.00 ft (15.24 m)

Highest point

815.00 ft (248.41 m)

Features

Wildlife
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Cave

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

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