Here’s a time-efficient, leg-busting adventure to unique topography and ocean views where you’ll witness the true power of the elements! Gaviota State Park is home to the 3-mile out-and-back Gaviota Wind Caves Trail, with over 600 feet in elevation gain. After parking in the gravel lot just up the street from the campground, take the paved trail marked by a mountain lion warning sign. The trek starts out flat, surrounded by typical chaparral flora. After just over 0.5 mile, take the dirt singletrack trail to the left, flanked by a state park sign and high grasses.
Here, the ascent begins at a nearly 45-degree angle and remains steep throughout the remainder of the way to the caves. Your first wind-eroded cave will be on the ridge to your left and is probably the biggest of the bunch. Rest here in a bit of shade on a hot day or climb to the top and grab a seat on a well-placed boulder overlooking the valley, ocean, and the 101 freeway, which fortunately you’ll hardly notice.
From here multiple steep trails lead to the last group of wind caves, but stay right for the most direct and hiker-used path to the easily identified natural rock formations. The last caves require a challenging scramble, even with naturally eroded foot holes created by the wind and a rope planted by climbers. Admire the incredible panoramic views of the ocean and the occasional train passing over the coastal bridge.
To get to the parking lot and trailhead, take Hwy. 101 N from Los Angeles, and about 30 miles beyond Santa Barbara exit left on Gaviota Beach Rd. At the junction, ignore the left route to the campground and take a right, up the hill. The gravel lot and the trailhead will be on your immediate right. No dogs.