26 June 2016

Yucca Trail

Gaviota State Park

Gaviota State Park seems to be out to get all its trails back. There was a while when there were about twice as many on the map as on the ground. Exploring one of these reworked trails is most easily done starting at the park entry by Las Cruces. I picked up a couple sisters from by the old adobe stage coach stop and after having a look at that, proceeded to the gated end of the road and the start of the hike. It is a little warm although I can just see the fog hanging above the break in the rocks made by the pass. We start off down the fire road and quickly come to a trail junction. Before, this junction was easily missed and only one trail showed at all. Now it has an information kiosk and trail signs marking the Ortega Trail that follows near the creek and the Yucca Trail that climbs along the ridge. Both easily found and followed. After a brief discussion, we head up the Yucca Trail, the one that was previously invisible. It climbs quickly.

fog bank through the gap
Looking down along the gap made by the Gaviota Creek. There is a little fog low out there.

park on the east side
I can pick out the trails in the park that are often hard to find on the east side of the freeway, too.

The trail starts off steep enough and then gets steeper. There are a couple short sections that are steep enough to worry about grip on the trail in the dry summer conditions of the day. It progresses directly up the hill a lot of the time and the few storms we have had are already showing why that is a poor choice for trail construction. But is is quite open and easily traveled and is clearly being enjoyed by plenty hikers and bikers.

Gaviota Pass
Another look at the Gaviota Pass.

road below
High above the usual route, the fire road below, to climb to the ridge.

The heat gets worse as we climb. Occasional and well spaced oak trees provide shelter from the sun and wind off the sea is especially a treat for making the climb more comfortable. Unfortunately, it feels even hotter after taking a rest in the shade of an oak. The trail eventually reaches near the top of a local peak, then drops down to Hollister Trail along the ridge below. We get to peek into Hollister Ranch as we go in search of one more scrap of shade.

sign post as sign
At the top, which is marked by a new sign post. The trail comes down from the little bump on the right and shade can be found a little way up Hollister Trail to the left.

Hollister Ranch
Peeking into Hollister Ranch.

We turn to wander back down along the fire road that is Las Cruces Trail.

Gaviota Peak
Gaviota Peak providing a backdrop for the fire road down.

The fire road is quite exposed for the top half, but it is pleasant enough for going down. The shade of the trees is still welcome. The sea breeze is always welcome. It is a quick trek down again and back to the gate and car.

©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 27 June 2016

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