Wild warm springs in a state park.
The milky white water with a sulfur smell was characteristic.
Unpopular side of the state park
Where US Route 101 runs north from the Gaviota Coast through the Santa Ynez Mountains.
The parking lot was located off Exit 132, a short distance back on the highway toward Los Angeles.
That was one of the parking lots at Gaviota State Park.
It was on the east side of the state park, which is divided into east and west by Highway 101, not the west side, which is more popular because of the beach.
The fee was $2.00 per car.
An unattended fee box was left with envelopes to fill out.
Hike 0.7 miles from the parking lot to the warm springs.
Although there are some elevation changes, the difficulty level is low.
However, one must be on one's guard, as mountain lion attacks have been reported in the past and poison oak has recently been reported to be thriving.
The key point to note is this fork in the road in the second half.
Head for the side road on the right, not the left that leads to Gaviota Peak.
Once here, it is just a short climb along the creek that flows out of the source.
Water full of bubbles
I noticed the smell of rotten eggs until I found a pool under palm trees.
There were two pools, both primitive, molded of rocks and concrete.
They were adjacent to each other and there was a difference in elevation.
This wild hot spring has been known for a long time and was listed in a book in 1880 for its efficacy against skin diseases.
At one time it was called "Las Cruces Hot Springs" after the village at its base that disappeared with the construction of the national highway.
The concrete structures are said to be a remnant of the New Deal policies during the Great Depression when they were built to create jobs.
The upper pool was so shallow that I had to lie down to soak up to my shoulder.
Clear, colorless water gushed out from the bottom of the fine mud deposit, along with gases.
Its air bubbles and mineral ingredients made it slippery to the touch.
Located directly above the Santa Ynez Fault, the water temp was low at 96 degrees F, but the power of the geothermal activity could be felt.
The water overflowing from the upper pool runs down a gentle slope to the lower pool.
The water turned milky white due to compositional changes, and a large amount of precipitates were found on the rocks.
A gush of water was also seen around the lower pool but on a smaller scale.
The water temp was even tepid because it was basically just water that has flowed down from above.
Clothing is optional, but because of the easy access and relatively high foot traffic, it is a good idea to keep clothes within reach.