A very pleasant loop hike which parallels the freeway about 400’ above it and leads across grass hillsides and oak meadows to a series of overlooks of the Gaviota Tunnel.
You will see warning signs noting this is mountain lion country. In the springtime especially you may encounter ticks.
Guidelines for Hiking in Lion Country
Don’t hike alone—try to hike with at least one other person or take your dog along for company.
Don’t let your children wander too far ahead of you—a lion may mistake your child for prey due to his or her size or the more animated way children often are.
Don’t run away—this may stimulate the lion to chase you. Stand still and face the lion, and don’t turn your back. Make eye contact and keep it until the standoff ends.
If you see a lion don’t approach it—give the lion as much space as you can. They will usually try to avoid a confrontation.
Crouching or bending over is to be avoided—humans standing up do not look like prey but crouched over in more of a four-legged position may make you look like dinner.
Stand tall—do everything you can to appear as large as you can. Raise your hands in the air and if you have a jacket raise it above you. Talk firmly and loudly.
Defend yourself if necessary—carry a walking stick or have a few stones in your pocket which you can throw if you need to. If attacked fight back.
In contrast to the Gaviota Peak hike, the Trespass loop isn’t quite as difficult and makes a perfect hike before a dip in the hot springs. However it is steep for a half mile not too long after you turn right off the main hot springs jeep road.
From the trailhead, hike up the main fire road for several hundred yards to the point where a secondary road turns off to the right beneath a large oak tree. This is the start of the road which will take you to the Trespass Trail. This jeepway isn’t as well maintained as the road leading up to Gaviota Peak but that makes it a bit more charming. It heads in a southerly direction towards the coast and gradually climbs up across open grass hillsides dotted with oaks.
A few hundred yards along the road the Oak View Trail veers off to the right and heads across the foothills through a series of meadows and oak forests. Eventually this trail re-cnnects to the jeep road a mile later. If you are doing the loop hike from the lower end, follow the trail along the foothills until it re-connects with the upper part of the jeepway. Though it may be difficult to finf given the lack of recent maintenance along the lower trail, there is actually a connector trail that drops down and under Highway 101 to connect with trails on the west side of the park. My own preference, though, is to take the Tresspass route as far as I like and then loop back on the Oak View Trail.
From the lower end the Oak View Trail climbs gradually, winding in and out of the oaks. You will find one spot where nearby springs ooze out of the ground creating a bog of sorts. In the springtime you may have a little difficulty finding your way through the ten foot wide bog without stepping in the mud but if you are careful you can do it. Near the end of the loop, several switchbacks which lead up through one final oak forest back to the jeepway. Once you reach the top of the trail you will find yourself looking almost directly down on the Gaviota Tunnel. From the top of the Trespass Trail it is a mile of easy hiking back down the road to the trailhead.
However, if you’d like to hike further, continue up the jeep road. It winds through very pretty hillsides and past some very unique-looking sandstone formations before following a small creek uphill to a fairly open saddle. In the spring there is a small pond at the low point of the saddle. Follow the jeepway past the pond and head towards the ocean and up the steep hill if you want to enjoy the great views of the Gaviota coastline you will find there.