Gaviota Peak and Campbell Trail, with a side trip to the hot spring
Begin the hike to Gaviota Hot Spring and Campbell Trail at the trailhead behind the sycamore trees at the parking area. Don't forget to pay for parking.
The hike begins on an uphill dirt road. Hike about 1/2 mile up the road and you will come to a fork in the road. If you head toward the right you can follow the Trespass trail which is part trail and part road. See the map for clarity. You can follow this trail to Gaviota peak, although as you near the peak the trail is less distinctly marked where you are to go to reach the peak (or even which peak it is! It's not a clear, obvious summit from the bottom of it.) This trail is a nice place to explore in any case.
At this same fork in the road, stay straight. You will see a small trail leaving the road. You can take this trail to the hot springs, which may or may not have bathers. The water is a creamy blue and is quite a pretty scene. You can proceed past the hot springs on the same trail to return back to the road in a sort of short cut. There is a point on this short cut just a small bit past the springs that you will need to make sure to take the left path. Watch out for poison oak.
If you decide to pass on the hot springs, you can follow the road instead. Either way the road and trail meet up with each other.
Continue following the road as it climbs. This is a popular mountain biking route as well. It does become quite steep.
After around 3 miles of false summits and winding dirt road you will be faced with another fork in the road just a little ways past an old fence.
Go to the right and you can reach Gaviota Peak in just a short distance. From Gaviota peak enjoy great views of the ocean and the rolling hills leading to Lompoc. You can return back the way you came, or continue past the peak to the Trespass Trail.
Continuing past the peak
To return from the peak, you can continue on the trail heading toward the Trespass Trial. You will descend steeply on rocky trail that burned a few years ago. Eventually you will emerge onto an old road in a grassy area. Turn right on the old road.
If you pass through any cattle gates, please close them.
As you descend down the road you will eventually see a small sign pointing to the Trespass Trail. The trail is not well-maintained and can become choked with weeds. You can follow it back to the junction with the original dirt road you started on. You can also just stay on the dirt road and it will eventually bring you back, too.
For another, longer hike take the left fork in the road and head up that steep hill. After about 1/4 mile you will come to a small trail marker and a trail heading off to your left. This is the Campbell trail. It is currently abandoned by the US Forest Service because they do not want hikers to discover any Chumash archeological sites. I have never seen any there and although the trail is horribly overgrown with scrub and poison oak in some places, it is a very nice trail.
Following the trail, hike for about 1 mile to Corrie Meadow, which is marked with a small iron sign. This makes a nice place for lunch, especially in the spring after the rains have left because the tiny meadow will be filled with wildflowers and a tiny little creek.
Continue on the trail another 1/2 mile or so to the end of Campbell Trail. At this point the scrub is sparse due to a fire in the past, but is quickly growing back. An exploration of the rocks yields some interesting rock formations and another nice resting spot.
At the end of the trail is a rusty sign marking the Campbell Trail at a gate. You have reached the road. For a nice loop, follow the road back. You will pass by the turnoff to Gaviota Peak again. Make sure you take the downhill fork in the road to return home again, unless you wish to climb the peak.
The total round trip for Gaviota Peak is 6-7 miles. The total round trip for the Campbell Trail loop is closer to 11.