Gaviota Peak is awesomely situated among juxtaposed mountains and ocean, about a 20 minute’s drive from where I used to live in Santy B. The turnoff for it is right near the famous Gaviota tunnel, featured in the The Graduate.
I have driven through this tunnel many times, always appreciating the characteristic bare rocky peaks of Santa Barbara County.
The trail heads up the north side with views of sloping hills and agriculture, and loops back down through rocky mountains and ocean views.
The color of the hills changes drastically with the seasons. The hills are pretty brown here in October, but in Spring they turn bright green after the rains. And yellow with mustard!
The trail is about a 6-mile loop and also features wind caves! A stop in Solvang for pastries makes for a perfect weekend morning expedition.
If you are super adventurous, there are reportedly hot springs near the trailhead, though I haven’t checked them out!
Sorry, no mountain lion photos. But, allow me to set the scene. It’s high summer in Arizona. Heading from the GC to Flagstaff after a hoooot morning and afternoon, you can suddenly feel the mugginess. The monsoon is rolling in!
It’s getting darker!
Suddenly, a huge tan mass with a long thick tail pads across the road in front of us and drops down into the bushes.
Was it? It must have been!
Only mountain lion sighting thus far (phew) :D
Saguaros lining the road north towards Flagstaff
I expected heat during my first drive through Arizona. And lots of it, given that it was August. And mostly, I got it, though what a nice surprise to see beautiful pines of the Flagstaff area! Mountains, grasses, pines, sunflowers, such large expanses of open space.
These photos come from where we posted camp near Flagstaff to make a day trip to the Grand Canyon (up next!). We tried to go for a little hike, but then the thunder started rolling in! Summer storms!
Arizona National Scenic Trail