Gaviota Wind Caves - Hiking

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Summary

Just a mile from the ocean sits a unique geological formation; the Gaviota Wind Caves. Formed by thousands of years of on-shore winds, these unique and sculptural caves have a distinctly otherworldly feel, and make for an excellent morning hike.

Written by

Kara Kieffer

Distance

2.1 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

30.4 miles

Difficulty

2 of 5 diamonds

The hike is just over four miles round trip with roughly 700 feet of gain. While there is not a lot of gain, it’s largely concentrated in the last half mile.

Time To Complete

2 hours

Seasonality

All Seasons

All year round, although during the heat of summer it’s advisable to get an early start as there is no shade or water along the trail.

Dog Friendly

No

Fees Permits

No

Land Website

Gaviota Caves

Review

Intro

The coastline between Santa Barbara and Gaviota is arguably some of the most beautiful on the entire 101 Highway, and an opportunity to see more of this area should not be missed. The Gaviota Wind Caves offer a chance to explore some of the unique sandstone geology, as well as the chance to climb above the highway to gain views of the ocean and surrounding coastal mountains.

What Makes It Great

One of the best things about this hike is that it is easily accessed via the highway, and yet it offers much more than your standard nature walk. The hike starts just off the coast, and climbs into the foothills, among Black Mustard bushes, which in the spring and early summer bloom with bright yellow flowers. Once at the caves hikers can climb inside and around the formations, some of which are even tall enough to stand in. The lower caves are a great place to stop and sit in the shade, while taking in views of the ocean.

If you feel like extending your hike, simply connect to one of the other trails that traverse Gaviota State Park, one popular option is nearly Gaviota Peak. Furthermore, if you’re looking for camping options in order to explore the area over multiple days, consider Gaviota State Park, which has a moderately large campground, complete with a camp store, potable water, and showers.

Who is Going to Love It

This hike is ideal for a quick morning outing, offering a moderate challenge, and some stunning views. Not only are the caves a unique and interesting natural feature, but from the ridge hikers can look south onto the ocean and the Channel Islands.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Exit the 101 onto Gaviota Beach Road, stay right at the fork to merge onto Hollister Ranch Road. This road will take a sharp right and turn and immediately there will be a dirt pullout parking lot, this is where you want to start your hike. Start at the gate at the fire road and follow this for a little more than half a mile. The trail will connect to a singletrack trail on the left side, and begin to climb more steeply. After about a mile you will have summited the ridge and see your first set of wind caves. Follow the trail a little higher to another series of caves. Return to your car the way you came.

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Location

Gaviota State Park

Gaviota, CA,
34.472841, -120.22877

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