Posted by: James Wapotich | June 27, 2011

Trail Quest: Trespass Trail

The Trespass Trail and Tunnel View Trail are just two of a number of trails that can be found within Gaviota State Park. The park, which extends from the beach north to Highway 1, covers more than 2,000 acres of mixed oak woodland and chaparral. The hike along the length of the Trespass trail and back is about 5 miles and can include views of the Pacific Ocean.

Because the Tunnel View Trail essentially parallels the Trespass Trail a portion of the way it can be used as an alternate route for part of the hike. A map of the trails within the State Park can be found at

Los Padres National Forest Gaviota State Park Santa Barbara Hike Trespass Trail

View from the Trespass Trail

To get to the trailhead from Santa Barbara take Highway 101 past the beach at Gaviota to the turn off for Highway 1, and then turn right onto the frontage road which dead ends at the parking area for the trail. Parking is $2 at the trailhead or you can park for free back along the frontage road.

From the parking area, the trail follows the Gaviota Peak Fire Road which then branches with the Trespass Trail continuing to the right and the Gaviota Peak Fire Road continuing to the left towards Gaviota Hot Springs and Gaviota Peak. Shortly after that intersection look for a waist high metal sign on the left with the faded word trail on it; this is where the Tunnel View Trail starts.

Gaviota State Park Trespass Trail Tunnel View Trail Hawk Santa Barbara Hike

Both the Tunnel View Trail and Trespass Trail curve around to the front of the Santa Ynez Mountains gaining altitude along the way. The Trespass Trail continues as a dirt road above the Tunnel View Trail and offers some nice views of the other half of the park across the valley.

The Tunnel View Trail continues as a footpath and is somewhat overgrown in places, particularly near the top and true to its name includes views of the tunnel along Highway 101. The two trails meet up about a mile later and as such one can use that as a return point for a shorter loop hike, about 2.5 miles roundtrip.

Gaviota State Park Tunnel View Trail Santa Barbara Hike

View from the Tunnel View Trail

A waist high metal sign also marks the upper intersection of the two trails. From here the Trespass Trail continues and soon after enters the Los Padres National Forest where it ceases to be a country road and becomes more of a trail. It is at this point that the trail becomes overgrown with re-growth from the 2004 Gaviota Fire; and although overgrown the trail itself isn’t too hard to follow.

At about the 1.75-mile mark it arrives at a gate, also overgrown, and continues through private property, public access to the trail was part of the purchase arrangement, hence the name Trespass Trail. The trail follows along what was once an old farm road, although in appearance it looks the same as the trail.

As the trail continues, it climbs towards a small saddle and leaves the thicker chaparral and moves through knee high brush for the next half-mile, which makes for smoother hiking.

Los Padres National Forest Gaviota State Park Trespass Trail Campbell Trail Santa Barbara Hike

Pond near where the Campbell and Trespass Trails meet.

At about the 2.5-mile mark the trail crests a small saddle, where one is greeted with a colorful view of a small pond tucked in at the top of the canyon. Here the trail branches, to the left Trespass Trail continues and climbs another mile to Gaviota Peak. From Gaviota Peak one can continue on to the Gaviota Peak Fire Road and make a loop back to the trail head, about 8 miles altogether. 

To the right one can find a path that leads to the top a small ridge and from there find views of the Pacific Ocean.

Regardless of how for you hike you will get see a unique corner of the Santa Ynez Mountains.

This article originally appeared in section A of the Saturday, June 25th, 2011 edition of the Santa Barbara News-Press.

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