Cliff Canyon and Black Pipe Trail
How to get there: From Kōkeʻe Museum, turn right on Hwy 550 and drive south for 1 mile, to the “Koke’e State Park” entrance sign. Park near the beginning of Halemanu Road on the opposite side of the main road.
Trail Length: The walk on Halemanu Road to the beginning of the trail is .8 mile, with a right hand turn when you reach the top of the hill at .6 miles. Cliff Trail is to the right and is .4 mile round trip. Canyon Trail forks downhill to the left and is .8 mile to Waipoʻo Falls. Round trip from Hwy 550 to Waipoʻo Falls is 3.6 miles.
Trail Description: One of the most popular family hikes, this ridge-top trail provides great views of Waimea Canyon. Most hikers only go as far as Waipo’o Falls. There is a small pool surrounded by yellow ginger upstream from the main falls. The trail includes a climb of several hundred feet in elevation, and steep drop offs along the Canyon rim.
How to get there: From Koke‘e Museum, turn left on Hwy 550, then turn right on the first dirt road, there is a sign that says “YWCA Camp Sloggett”, drive 1/2 mile and park in the area of the Camp Sloggett sign. Walk 150 yards down the dirt road toward Camp Sloggett to reach the trailhead, which is just before the first cabin on the right.
Trail Length: A round trip hike to Halemanu Valley and back on the Koke‘e – Halemanu Trail is 2.4 miles. A loop that includes the “No Name Trail”, then back to Hwy 550, is 2.5 miles.
Trail Description: The trail climbs uphill through koa forest. Following a climb of 300 feet in elevation, the trail continues along the ridge then drops into Halemanu Valley near some cabins. From here, you can return to the paved road via the .1 mile “Unnamed Trail” that comes out on Faye Road.
Waininiua and Kumuwela Trails
How to get there: From Koke’e Museum, Turn left on Hwy 550, then turn right on the first dirt road (Sign says”YWCA Camp Sloggett”), drive 1/2 mile and park in the area of the Camp Sloggett sign. Take the second turnoff (just beyond the turnoff to Camp Sloggett). Continue past the old drinking water pond, .2 miles to the Waininiua Trailhead on the left, or to the end of the dirt road (1/2 mile past the pond), to the Kumuwela Trailhead.
Trail Length: Both trails lead to Kumuwela Road, a dirt road that branches off Camp 10 – Mohihi Road. Waininiua Trail is 1/2 mile, Kumuwela Trail is 1 mile and a loop that includes both is 3 miles plus the road.
Trail Description: Both trails pass up and downhill through mixed native and introduced forests. The Waininiua Trail is generally in better condition, and can be hiked as part of an extended loop from either the Canyon Trail or Pu’u Ka ‘Ohelo – Berry Flat Trail. The Kumuwela Trail includes a climb of 400 feet in elevation.
Pu‘u Ka ‘Ohelo – Berry Flat Trail
How to get there: From Koke‘e Museum, turn left on Hwy 550 and at the first dirt road, there is a “YWCA Camp Sloggett”, turn right. Stay on the main dirt road for .9 miles, and park near the water pump. Walk uphill on the dirt road to your left .2 miles to the trailhead, past the first cabin on the left.
Trail Length: The Loop Trail is 2.2 miles.
Trail Description: This is a great trail to experience a variety of forest types in a short distance. Pu‘u Ka ‘Ohelo Trail goes uphill through a mix of native and introduced forest trees, passing through a grove of strawberry guava (waiwi) to a trail junction at .2 miles. Turn right at the trail junction, through a section of large koa trees where you are likely to hear or see native forest birds. The trail continues to a grove of sugi pine, then turns right (avoiding the dead end hunters’ trail) to pass through eucalyptus and California redwood to reach the dirt road at 1.4 miles. Walk downhill to the right on the dirt road to return to the water pump.
Awa‘awapuhi – Nu‘alolo Loop
How to get there: For Awa‘awapuhi, turn left on Hwy 550 and drive 1.6 miles to a clearing on the left side of the road, past mile marker 17. To reach Nu‘alolo Trailhead, turn right on Hwy 550, past the state park building and walk 100 yards south.
Trail Length: Loop Trail is 8.7 miles (with an additional 1.6 miles on the road back to your car.) Awa‘awapuhi Trail is 6.5 miles round trip.
Trail Description: A very popular though strenuous trail with spectacular views of the Na Pali coast. Most hikers who do the full loop begin on Nu‘alolo Trail and turn right (north) at 3.2 miles onto Nu‘alolo Cliff Trail to connect with Awa‘awapuhi Trail. Turn left for excellent views from the end of Awa‘awapuhi Trail, which ends on a narrow ridge dropping off 2,000 feet to valleys below. From here, it is a 3.2 mile climb back to Hwy 550, including a 1,600+ foot climb in elevation.
General Notes & Special Warnings: This is the longest day hike in Kōke‘e State Park. Both Awa‘awapuhi and Nu’alolo descend steadily, dropping about 1,500 feet in elevation, going from rain forest to dryland forest until reaching the scenic cliffs. The return is all uphill. Those who have less time hike one or the other; Museum interpreters often advise taking Awa‘awapuhi because it descends less steeply than Nu’alolo and has considerable plant interest before reaching the cliffs. There is no view until the end of each trail, and you “earn” it on the way back! Because these trails trace the western slopes of Kōkeʻe, they get lots of sun in the afternoon. Water a must; sun-screen suggested!
How to get there: From Koke‘e Museum, turn left on Hwy 550 and drive 1.9 miles north to a small pullover on the right hand side of the road. You can also park along Hwy 550 near the Awa‘awapuhi Trailhead. The trail ends on Hwy 550 about .3 miles past the Kalalau Lookout; 1.0 miles from the trailhead. Because the trail goes from road to road, many hikers park, walk in as far as they want and then return to their vehicle (instead of walking along the road).
Trail Length: 1.25 one way; 2.5 miles roundtrip.
Trail Description: One of the flattest trails on Kauaʻi, this is an easy hike, with a climb in elevation of just 120 feet. The trail passes through a moist forest where several native forest birds may be seen. An eastward branch of the trail in a strawberry guava grove is a dead-end, hunters’ trail-we do not recommend .
General Notes & Warning: This is entirely a forest trail, with no “long views” or vistas. Parking is a challenge; there is only room for two or three cars.
Pihea – Alaka‘i Trail
How to get there: From Kōkeʻe Museum, turn left on Hwy 550 and drive 3.8 miles to the end of the road at Pu’u o Kila Lookout.
Trail Length: Pihea Peak is reached 1.3 miles beyond Pu’u o Kila Lookout. This portion of Pihea Trail traces the back edge of Kalalau Valley with extraordinary views into this huge valley and out to sea. It connects with the Alakaʻi Swamp Trail; round trip to Kilohana overlook is 8.6 miles. Pihea Trail is 3.7 miles one way down to Kawaikoi Stream, and Alaka’i Swamp Trail is 3.5 miles from “Camp Sloggett” Road to Kilohana overlook.
Trail Description: Pihea Trail provides great views of Kalalau Valley along the rim, good territory for watching native forest birds and a look at a native rainforest. Clay soils that are slippery when wet and a climb of several hundred feet in elevation make this trail challenging. At 1.2 miles, a steep fork left leads to Pihea Peak. At 1.6 miles, a section of boardwalk has been constructed. Continuing to the right at the Alaka’i Trail junction on the boardwalk leads to Lehua Maka Noe, a small bog. Turning left on the Alaka’i Trail, the boardwalk continues downhill towards Kawaikoi Stream. After crossing Kawaikoi Stream, the trail goes up a ridge then across very boggy and foggy forestlands to Kilohana overlook on the rim of Wainiha Valley, with great views of Kaua’i’s north shore (weather permitting).