Treadmill Rating (out of 10):
Distance: 6 miles
Max Elevation: 2,458
Gaviota Peak is one of my favorite training hikes for Mt. Whitney and Yosemite. The reason is that in the 3 miles to the peak, you take on close to 2,000 feet of elevation. The surrounding beauty keeps your mind off the climb. There is a side trail on this hike that takes you to a small sulfur spring (Gaviota Hot Springs) where many hikers will take a break on their way down and dip their feet.
You can find the trail head by taking Hwy 101 to the exit “Hwy 1/Lompoc”, at which point you will want to head east (if you are coming from the south that would be a right and if from the north make a left and pass over the 101) and then make a right for a quarter mile to the parking lot.
Make sure to bring $2.00 cash on this hike because you will need it to put into the “honor box” to park your car.
HOW TECHNICAL IS THE HIKE?
This hike is not technical at all. Comprised mostly of a typical hiking path, it does have its steep parts, however, so do bring plenty of water. When I hiked this during the summer, it was quite hot due to direct sun for much of the way, so also bring a hat and sunscreen. Since you will be hiking up the north facing side of this hill, much of the wind is blocked till you get to the peak…so it warms up. Once you crest, the cool ocean air hits you and revitalizes you for the final push to the top. Once you are there, the view of the ocean to the south and the Santa Ynez Valley to the north are spectacular.
WHO CAN DO THIS HIKE?
I rate this hike at a 7 on the treadmill scale. You should be in fairly good shape. Its not what I would call an easy hike, but its not ridiculous either. If you can walk on a treadmill for an hour at level 7 of ELEVATION, you should not have much of a problem. On most treadmills level 7 is about halfway max for elevation. Just make sure you pace yourself, drink water and rest if you need to. The view from the peak is worth it!!
On several of my Gaviota Peak hikes I have seen boy scouts and younger children of about 10 to 14 years of age passing me on the trail.
WHEN SHOULD I GO?
Anytime of year is great for this hike. Summer can get pretty hot though, so make sure to check the forecast before setting out. The best bet is to go early in the morning before the heat of the day increases.
You won’t be carrying an overnight pack on this day hike, so strenuous training is not needed like on some of the other hikes on this site. As mentioned above, a good method would be walking halfway max elevation on a treadmill for an hour, running or similar types of hikes like Bishop Peak or Cuesta Ridge in San Luis Obispo. This is a longer hike uphill (about 3 miles) so work on your uphill endurance as much as possible.