Mile Post 700 on Highway One to Gaviota State Beach.

August 22: Santa Barbara County Mile Post 700 on Highway One to Gaviota State Beach. 10.8 miles

We camped last night at Gaviota State Beach where it was windy and overcast. Out to sea, we could sea oil rigs in the Santa Barbara Channel and the Channel Islands beyond. Joining us during the night were Chris Pesenti, Lindsey Peavey and Zoë Rappoport, friends of J Nichols.

At most camps, Jon reads J. Smeaton Chase’s “California Coastal Trails” to the group, a recitation of his trip on horseback along the coast of California in 1911. It’s an excellent book, well worth reading by anyone interested in coastal issues and history. We have just read about this area; so many of the place names are familiar to us from Chase’s words.

This day was self-guided for the first 6.4 miles.  The highway miles were uneventful as we walked through the San Julian ranch. The only excitement came from seeing a coyote off in a field (it looked to be hunting a gopher or ground squirrel), and making a chain-pulling arm gesture to get truck drivers to honk their horns. By and large, the truck drivers were accommodating.
Just before Highway One joined Highway 101, we turned off onto Julian Road. This is some 3 (as the crow takes Highway 101) miles from the ocean and at the easterly boundary of Gaviota State Beach. Here we met up with Mike Lunsford and Otis Calais. Both are board members of the County Trail Council, and Mike was long a ranger in this sector and is responsible for many of the trails at Gaviota State Beach. He is also the President of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy.
About a mile into the park, we took our lunch by the side of Gaviota Creek, shaded by sycamores and live oaks. Then we continued up to the ridges, where we had fine views of Gaviota Peak to the southeast, and out to the Channel Islands. Our little camp from the night before, with its railroad trestle, could be seen below looking as if it were part of a model-railroad layout.  We continued down the switchback trail past sandstone caves and dramatic rock faces with holes and hollows, produced by the strong winds that often blow here. We came down to the access road into Hollister Ranch and then curved back to the campground parking lot. Here we met Mel and were driven to our next campsite, Refugio State Beach, where we will spend two nights. We were told that this access road is the only way into Hollister, and one passes a kiosk before gaining entrance into that private area. The ranch is divided into about 130 pieces of property, each 100 or more acres. (Jon Breyfogle; photos by Linda Hanes)

Editors Note: We thought you might be interested in knowing more about Hollister Ranch. The following description comes from a real estate website. (We don’t suggest that this is an official position of the Hollister Home Owners Association.) Property is available from about $750,000 for undeveloped 100-acre parcels to $7.5 million for a seaside mansion. Note that they consider the beach private.

From Hollister Ranch Realty
“The sprawling Hollister Ranch is located behind 24 hour guarded gate on a 14,000 acre working cattle ranch. Each of these exclusive 100-acre ocean view properties offers security, privacy and solitude. Three beach cabanas and 8 ½ miles of private beach frontage are used exclusively by the owners of the 133 parcels within California’s most unique community.” And “The private beach recreational area offers the exclusive use of 8 1/2 miles of beautiful, natural dry sandy beaches for hiking and riding as well as for sun bathing, swimming, fishing, skin diving, boating, surfing and sailboarding.”

Left: Lunch on Gaviota Creek. Right: Ridge view of Gaviota State Beach, the active trail trestle and Cannel Islands in the faint distance.