Gaviota Hot Springs Trail Los Padres Santa Barbara hike Gaviota State Park spring

Driving up the 101 Freeway through the Gaviota Tunnel west of Santa Barbara, you might be unaware that there is a natural hot springs less than a mile from the roadway. Gaviota Hot Springs is more warm than it is hot, but the blue sulfery water attracts its share of bathers. The springs are half a mile from the trailhead and only a tenth of a mile off the trail to Gaviota Peak, making it a nice detour if you have tired legs to soak.

From the trailhead cul-de-sac just off the 101 Freeway in Gaviota State Park, begin hiking up the wide fire road, which climbs 150 feet over the first quarter mile to a junction with Trespass Trail (an alternate route to Gaviota Peak). Turn left, continuing up the road to the next junction located alongside a creek. This is the water flowing down from the hot springs. Turn right and follow the water to its source. A tenth of a mile up this overgrown single track, you will arrive at Gaviota Hot Springs.

Some time ago, the small springs was built up with cement and separated into pools. Proceed up to the top pool which is deep enough to bathe in, but not to swim. Sulfur bubbles warm the milky blue water. Gaviota Hot Springs is on the small side, and the water would be more inviting if it circulated a bit more, but the springs is definitely worth checking out on the way to (or back from) Gaviota Peak. Done on its own, this is a one mile hike with 400 feet of elevation gain. There is a $2 fee to park at the trailhead.

Gaviota Hot Springs
Gaviota Hot Springs

To get to the trailhead: From Santa Barbara, drive 30 miles west on the 101 Freeway. When the freeway turns inland, pass the Gaviota Rest Area and drive 1.5 miles to the next exit (132) labeled California One (Lompoc / Vandenberg AFB). At the top of the ramp, turn right and make another immediate right on the unnamed Gaviota Park Boundary Road. Continue 1/3 of a mile to the cul-de-sac at road’s end.

From Buellton to the north, take the 101 South for 8 miles to the exit for California One. Turn left across the freeway and make a right on the frontage road to the trailhead.

Trailhead address: Gaviota Park Boundary Road, Goleta, CA 93117
Trailhead coordinates: 34.504598, -120.2259

Use the map below to create your own directions:


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Photos

Gaviota Hot Springs  Gaviota Hot Springs  Gaviota Hot Springs 

These photos were taken in July of 2011. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Gaviota Peak HikeGaviota Peak
This 6.5-mile loop mounts a 2,458-foot summit two miles from the Pacific and then descends Trespass Trail to explore the wilds of the Santa Ynez Mountains.
Tunnel View Trail GaviotaTunnel View and Trespass Trails Loop
This 2.6-mile loop steals a view over the 101 Freeway and the Gaviota Tunnel.
Gaviota Pass OverlookGaviota Pass Overlook Loop
This 6.5-mile loop tours scenic ridges in Gaviota State Park to arrive at a soaring overlook above the Gaviota Tunnel.
Gaviota Wind Caves TrailGaviota Wind Caves
This 2.5-mile hike just off the 101 Freeway visits wind-carved caves in Gaviota State Park with great ocean views.
Nojoqui FallsNojoqui Falls
This short 0.65-mile hike visits an 80-foot tall fern-lined waterfall.
McWay FallsMore Central Coast Hikes
Explore other destinations along the California coast between Ventura and Monterey, including trails in Los Padres National Forest.

2 Comments on Gaviota Hot Springs in Gaviota State Park

  1. Jenn says:

    Gaviota Hot Springs is a great trail and time for that matter! I was there this past summer and it was nice and hot and the springs were beautiful. I tend to stick to SB trails but I made the trek out there to check it out and it was so awesome! Great day hiking some new trails that I will now forever go back to.

  2. Kelly says:

    The hot springs is totally worth the trek out there. Short way up the hill and you’re there and on a nice evening, this is the place to be! My local friends showed me this place when I was in town and it was one of the best places I’ve ever been in town! Just beautiful and natural in every way.

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