Hawaii Pictures (15 pictures)
Diamond Head (Oahu) Directions: Free. Trails: There is one about 3 person width trail to the top. It's not very scenic until you get to the top - mostly brown. You hike a mile to the top (it's all up - not too tiring until you hit the 99 steps near the top), look around and hike back down. It's a tourist spot, so there are plenty of people. Area: Went late September. Dry, brown, volcano crater until the top where there are beautiful views of the ocean and Wakiki. Picture When I did the hike: September 1998 Recommendation: If you go to Oahu, this is one you have to do. It doesn't take much time and you get a pretty view of the area around Honolulu.
Waikamoi Ridge (Maui - Road to Hana) Directions: Early on the Road to Hana (Hwy 360). 1st good sized stop on the right. There is a picnic table near the parking area. Free. Trails: It's about a mile or two loop with a branch in the rain forest. As such, the trail does tend to get muddy - hiking shoes are better than sneakers, but sneakers are better than sandals. Start at the picnic table and either go left or up the middle. After a little bit, you'll reach a ridge. At the top of the ridge, head up along the ridge and the trail goes through a couple of small bamboo groves before ending at a small field with a picnic area. [A little further ahead is a "restricted" sign with a path - it's not worth going further as there is not much to see and it gets slightly steep and can be muddy.] Return to the trail junction at the ridge and take a left or go straight - which ever way you didn't take coming up. Area: Green, lush rain forest. Note: there is no waterfall along this trail. When I did the hike: July 19, 2001 Recommendation: Short, pretty hike. If you've started your drive early or are staying the night in Hana (and can find a parking spot), do it.
Ke'anae Arboretum (Maui - Road to Hana) Directions: On the Road to Hana (Hwy 360) right before the turnoff for Ke'anae. You'll see cars parked along the road near the entrance. Free. Trails: It's a paved then gravel, good sized trail for about 1/4 mile with little signs pointing out plant names. Then the trail wanders through some taro fields. At the end of the taro fields, a true but unmaintained trail continues on through the rainforest along the stream. Reports were that there is a small fall/pool to swim in at the end. I tried to find it twice (first time was expecting a shorter hike, second time went further and knew what type of hike it was) and failed both times. The second time, went for a ways and then the trail went up a small cliff and there were skid marks instead of footholds and I decided not to try to go up it. Area: Green rainforest with plant labels. A huge bamboo grove a short ways in seemed to impress a lot of people. When I did the hike: July 19, 2001, July 21, 2001 Recommendation: Na. If you can find the falls though... Do take a short drive down to Ke'anae - very pretty ocean views.
Wai'anapanapa State Park (Maui - Hana) Directions: On the Road to Hana (Hwy 360) right before Hana. There will be a sign saying Wai'anapanapa State Park that way. Take a left onto that road and drive a short bit and park in the parking lot. Free. Trails: A small loop for the caves. You can get in the water for the caves, but you'll shortly be greeted with the nasty smell of sulfur. There is a small black sand (rocky, not smooth) beach in a cove, but the gem of this park is the King's High Coastal Trail that goes along ocean. To the left of the beach as you face the ocean, the trail goes through rocky lava fields for quite a ways. I went about a mile to just past the airport, but it goes further than that. To the right of the beach, the trail goes along the coast reportedly all the way to Hana. For about a mile, the trail is fairly easy (not too rocky) up to the Heiau (Hawaiian place of worship). After that, the trail gets rockier. And a little ways after that, it gets scarier as it goes right along the cliff edge. I turned around a short ways past the fishing hut as my nerves said, "Enough!" Area: Awesome ocean views, small black sand beach, rocky lava fields. Note that rocky lava fields are not easy things to hike - there is no shade and you are walking on fist-sized or larger rocks.. Picture When I did the hike: September 1998, July 19, 2001, July 21, 2001 Recommendation: Definitely go there if you are on Maui and go to Hana (even just a day trip). The loop isn't much, but the views from the Coastal Trail (especially to the right as you face the ocean) are awesome.
Waimoku Falls (Maui - Hana) Directions: Past Hana on the Road to Hana (Hwy 360). At O'heo Gluch/Pools of O'heo/Seven Pools/Haleakala National Park. Free. Trails: A about two person wide one-way, 2 mile trail to a tall waterfall. There was not much elevation change after the start. It goes through a bamboo forest, which was neat. Near the end of the trail, right before the waterfalls, there are two wet water crossings. You may be able to get pass the first crossing without getting your feet wet, but you'll get wet crossing the 2nd one. Area: Green, green, green. I went in late September and it was drizzling most of the day. The rain meant that there was no swimming in the pools near the ocean. It's a pretty trail and there is a really neat looking tree along the way. Picture When I did the hike: September 1998 Recommendation: If you go to Hana, do this trail. It's an easy trail and the falls are impressive.
Kaupo Gap Trail (Maui - Kaupo) Directions: From Hana, take Hwy 31 (the main road) all the way to Kaupo. Note that the rental companies don't like you driving on this portion of the road as some of it is not paved and it is narrow - you might be more comfortable in a 4-wheel/high clearance vehicle, but it looked like a compact could make it fine. At Kaupo, the road up to the trailhead is just before the Kaupo General Store - there are a row of mailboxes next to the road that heads up to the right. I parked across from the mailboxes, pulling my car as far over as I could. You _might_ be able to park closer to the actual trailhead instead of having to hike the road 1.5 miles by driving up it (it's a one (and only one) lane patched-paved (not smooth) road), but the area around the trailhead is all private property and I don't know how they'd feel about you parking there. If you manage to get the transportation arranged, have whoever meet you at the Kaupo General Store. Free. Trails: The right way to do this is to arrange the transportation so that you start the hike at the top at Haleakala and hike down through Kaupo Gap. But I couldn't arrange the transportation (and I tried very hard to arrange it), so I decided to hike from Kaupo up into the Kaupo Gap and turnaround when I felt like it or needed to due to time. So my hike started off with a 1.5 mile hike up (common word with this hike) a patched-paved road (baring left at the curve) to just before the house that you can see off to the right - there is a small "trail" sign "that way" and after you head "that way", there is a large trail sign with distance information. The trail starts as a true 1-person width trail for about a mile before hitting the dirt farming roads. From there on, it's farming roads (some of them grassy) all the way to the National Park boundary. Keep an eye out for trail signs - some complete signs, some just the posts, some laying on the ground - to tell you which way to go. You are going up the whole way and it's not a gentle climb, some of it is pretty steep. You do get a great view of the gap and the crater wall to the left the further you go. And great views looking back at the ocean. It took me about 4 hours to get to the park boundary. I went a little ways past the park boundary before turning around - the trail was overgrown with knee-high tall grass that was even less fun than the roads to trudge through (I also knew that I wasn't going all the way to the crater, so turning around there was okay). Saw lots of goats on the hike back down. It took me about 2 hours to get back to my car. [Stopped at O'heo Gluch for a dip under a waterfall after my hike. Ahh!] The entire Kaupo Trail is 8.4 miles and 6,100 feet (from the Paliku cabin (6,380 feet) to the highway (280 feet)). From the park boundary to the trailhead, it's over 3 miles and 2,840 feet. From the highway to the trailhead, it's 1.5 miles and 760 feet. Area: Up, up, up. Some trees, but mostly grassy area with the one crater wall visible in the distance. Picture When I did the hike: July 20, 2001 Recommendation: I wouldn't do it from the bottom up. Hiking uphill on dirt roads wasn't my idea of fun, even though the views were pretty. If you somehow can get the transportation arranged, going from the top down might be worth it - it'd be a full, long day hike (unless you stay the night at a cabin in the crater) - 17.5 miles, all downhill (okay, kind of flat a number of miles in the crater - the start is at 9,800 feet).
Haleakala Volcano (Maui) Directions: $10 per car for a 7 day pass or National Parks Pass Trails: Two trails down into the crater and a number of trails in the crater. I took the trail from the visitor's center down into the crater and hiked around for 6.5 hours. The hike back out of the crater is tough. The trails are mostly sandy/gravely and aren't much fun. Area: Picture When I did the hike: September 1998 Recommendation: It is a very different hike that is worth doing once. You don't go for the trails, but for the scenery - it looks like an orange moon. Be sure to wear sunscreen lotion - I got fried from this hike. If you go up for the sunrise (gorgeous), be sure to bring a blanket - it's very cold before the sun comes up.
King's High Coastal Trail through lava field (Maui - Wailea) Directions: End of the road (Hwy 31) past Wailea and past Makena. The road goes through the most recent lava flow. Park in the dirt parking area (good sized) where the cove is at and hike along the ocean a little ways to the trailhead - there should be a sign indicating the trailhead. Free. Trails: 2 miles one-way trail through a rocky lava flow. [It looks like the trail does go further than the 2 miles (2 miles takes you to the end of the lava flow) and continues along the coast for 2 more miles. But the 2 miles is all I did and knew about at the time.] Area: Picture When I did the hike: September 1998 Recommendation: It's tough hike over lava rocks and there is no shade (I was fortunate in that it was an overcast day), but at the end of the trail, you can see the volcanos of the island of Hawaii in the distance.
Waihee Ridge trail (Maui - Waihee) Directions: Take Hwy 340 past Waihee - go up the mountain and just after a bend (there's a ranch at the bend with a sign for horseback rides) is a small sign on the left indicating the Waihee Ridge Trail that way. Take a left onto the narrow, paved one-lane road and go up to the grassy-dirt parking area in front of the trailhead. Free. Trails: This is a well maintained, 2.5 miles one-way trail on the ridge above the Waihee Valley. The trail starts as a steep paved road a short bit that will have you hating this trail before you start. At the top of the road, take a minute or so and catch your breath and enjoy the view of the large waterfall off to the right (do get a better view of it later). Then veer left into the pasture as the trail sign indicates. A short bit later, the trail goes into the forest and the real trail begins. After about a mile, the trail goes out along the ridge where there are spectacular views of the valleys, waterfalls, and mountains - if it's not too cloudy. There is a picnic table at the trail's end. It's a one to two person width trail with over 1,500 feet gained. There are steps in some of the steeper spots. And as I said, it is well maintained - 3 volunteers had brought weedwackers to clear the trail while I was there. There are distance markers every half mile. Area: Lush green mountains, likely cloudy. Picture When I did the hike: July 22, 2001 Recommendation: Definitely. The best trail on Maui, a good workout, great views (even with the clouds I had), and well maintained.
Iao Valley (Maui) Directions: Hwy 320 to the end at Iao Valley State Park. Free. Trails: There are a number of paved "trails" in the park, but the locals and serious hikers know about the 2 unofficial trails. These can be found by looking for the two "No trespassing" signs - you need to decide before you go if you are going to ignore those signs. Despite the signs, both trails are well traveled. The lower trail is at the lower left corner of the paved area (the farthest area of the park) and goes up along the stream further into the valley. It's a narrow trail and there are a couple of steep spots. I stopped at a point where it was a little too steep and muddy for my comfort (but 2 people went past me and up the slope with no problem - I think my concern was more with coming back down it). The upper trail is to the left and behind the top observation area. It is a one-person width trail that goes up into the valley a bit. This trail is in worse shape than when I tried it in 1998 - the ferns are reclaiming the trail and _will_ brush your legs as you go up. The trail completely disappeared on me less than a mile into it - one moment I was definitely on a trail and the next I was in the forest trying to figure out where the trail continued. Supposedly it goes for over 2 miles, but if you can go that far on a trail, you're doing better than I did. Area: Green, green, green. Picture When I did the hike: September 1998, July 22, 2001 Recommendation: If you can endure the guilt of going pass the "No Trespassing" sign, do the lower trail for a bit. Let nature continue to reclaim the upper trail.
Lava Tree State Park (Big Island) Directions: From Hilo, take Hwy 11 to Hwy 130 and take a left on to 130. At the junction for Hwy 132, take a left on to 132 and go about 2 1/2 miles and turn left into the parking area. About 22 miles from Hilo. Free. Trails: It's a 1 mile paved (wheel chair accessable) loop through the forest with a lot of funky lava trees. The lava trees were formed when a fast flow of lava came out of a near by creavice and surrounded the trees and then the flow retreated and left tall, hollow (the trees burned) lava formations. Area: Flat, forest When I did the hike: Tuesday August 23, 2005 Recommendation: It's a little out of the way, but worth a visit. After wards, continue on Hwy 132 until it T-intersects and take a right onto 137 and Ahalanui Point State park is a couple of miles ahead on the left and it has a thermal pool next to the ocean that you can swim in. [You can then continue on 137 until the road ends (stopped by a lava flow) and hike to the left over the lava flow to the ocean where there is a small new black sand beach (don't dip your toes, though, as the current is really strong).]
Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs (Big Island) Directions: In Volcano National Park, take Crater Rim Drive to Chain of Craters Road to near the coast (but before). There will be a sign indicating Pu'u Loa and a pull-off parking area. $10 per car for a week's pass or National Parks Pass Trails: 3/4 mile hike over the old lava flow to a small loop boardwalk around the petroglyphs. It's fairly flat, except for the little ups and downs of walking over the flow. [Note: lava flows are different from lava fields (my distinction) in that lava fields are made up of individual rocks and lava flows are almost one continuous bumpy rock.] Area: Black lava flow. No shade. Picture When I did the hike: July 23, 2001 Recommendation: Short and sweet. Hiking over lava flows are cool and the petroglyphs are interesting.
Kilauea Caldera hike (Big Island) Directions: Immediately turn a left onto Crater Rim Drive after passing the entrance station for Volcano National Park and park at the Thurston Lava Tube parking area. [Go early, the Thurston Lava Tube is popular.] $10 per car for a week's pass or National Parks Pass Trails: I made a 10.1 mile loop combining a number of different trails. I started with the Kilauea Iki Trail for 2.4 miles through the Kilauea Iki Crater. The hard packed trail starts through a forest going down to the crater floor and then through the middle of the crater floor (which is weird with steam coming up from the floor all around me) and then a short hike up the far crater wall (the only short, slightly tiring elevation climb of this hike). The floor is mostly smooth, but gets rocky for the last third of the crater - follow the lighter portion of the lava and the stacked rocks for the trail. At the top of the crater, I hooked a left and shortly came to the Byron Ledge Trail which went through a forest for .7 miles before descending into the Kilauea Caldera and ending at the Halema'uma'u Trail. There were a number of Ne'ne geese visible in the forest. I hooked a left on to the Halema'uma'u Trail for a long 2.4 miles through the middle of the vast Kilauea Caldera (which also contains a couple "smaller" craters). There is also steam coming up from the floor here. And even spookier is the sign midway through the caldera warning to stay on the trail due to "thin crust". The trail is the lighter colored lava (lighter from all the people walking on it) and following the stacked rocks in the rockier areas. The trail continues by the Halema'uma'u Crater (one of the "smaller" craters) and then goes through Halema'uma'u parking lot [no port-a-potties] and across the road and hike for .5 miles next to the 1982 lava flow before ending at the Crater Rim Trail. I took a left onto the Crater Rim Trail and hiked a blah 2 miles on the sandy trail along a ridge above the 1982 flow. The trail got better as it passed by the Keanakao'i Crater and then through its 1974 lava flow and into a thin forest for .3 miles to the Chain of Craters Road. Across the road, the trail goes through a pretty (if you aren't too tired to enjoy it) fern rain forest for 1.8 miles back to the car. There were more Ne'ne geese in the fern forest. The Crater Rim Trail slowly gains elevation. The trails are wide 1-person width in the forests and many-people wide in the craters. It took me about 5 hours to hike this. Area: A variety - rain forests, craters, huge craters, lava flows. There is no shade in the craters and along the ridge - wear sunscreen. Picture When I did the hike: July 24, 2001 Recommendation: A good hike. Going through the Kilauea Iki Crater and Kilauea Caldera is quite an experience. The 2 miles of sandy trail almost made me suggest going a different way back, but the 1.8 through the fern forest makes me say that this is the way to do it. The distance was the only thing that tired me, none of the elevation increases did [and I actually went to Green Sand Beach after doing this hike]. If you don't have the time for a full hike, go to the Halema'uma'u parking lot and hike a ways on the Halema'uma'u Trail into the Kilauea Caldera. You shouldn't visit Volcano National Park without doing so.
Green Sand Beach (Big Island) Directions: Hwy 11 to Waiohinu to mile marker 69. There is a sign on Hwy 11 for South Point. Turn left on that road and go all the way to the end - about 11 miles. The road will narrow to one lane (with grass shoulders to use when vehicles come the other way) and past the wind farm the road gets rougher - but a compact will make it okay. At the fork, go left down to South Point and park in the parking area. Pay at the building across the road. [At the fork, go right and you get some pretty ocean views and there is a Heiau.] $5 per car. Trails: From the parking area, hike the dirt road down to the "harbor" and then go left along the dirt roads along the ocean. There is a gate preventing vehicles from entering (but 2 4-wheel drive vehicles did pass me while I was there). There is a lot of trash along the shore, so you don't really have pretty views along the hike. After a long 2.5 miles, you'll see a large rock formation as the road angles to the left. The cove is at the base of that. You have to climb/hike down to the cove. There is a short trail beneath the cliff in front of you, but you have to figure out where the place to get down is at - there is no spot marking it. The way down is early along the cliff. Others who couldn't figure a way down/didn't know about the trail came down from the top along the ridges (they said it looked scarier than it was, but I wouldn't want to do it that way). The lightly shaded green (not bright, more of a lime color - look elsewhere for details as for why its that color) beach is in a pretty little cove and there probably won't be many people. Stay for a while. Relax. Area: Flat, farm roads along the dirty coast to a beautiful cove with lime green sand. No shade. When I did the hike: July 24, 2001 Recommendation: Definitely. Not for the (long) hike, but for the beach.
Onemea Bay (Big Island) Directions: Near Hilo, take Hwy 19 to the scenic drive and park along the road either shortly before and just after the botanical garden (don't park in the garden's parking lot as they don't like it). Free. Trails: The Donkey Trail starts just after the Botanical Garden (right across the small bridge is a sign for it, which I parked in front of). The wide trail goes about 1/2 mile down (not steep) in the trees to a pretty ocean view of the bay area. Shortly before the small penisula, I took a wet-water crossing across the stream and walked up the Onemea trail with pretty coastal views along the way. The trail came back out to the road and there were a couple of cars parked next to it - this is where I'd suggest parking and heading down (and skip the donkey trail all together). It's just a short hike. Area: Pretty ocean views. When I did the hike: Monday August 22, 2005 Recommendation: If you are in the area and have a little time, it's a pretty place.
Waipio Valley (Big Island) Directions: Hwy 19 to Hwy 240 to the Waipio overlook (basically the end of the road). If you were smart and rented a 4-wheel drive vehicle, continue down the _steep_ one-lane paved road into the valley and turn right at the bottom and take the rutty dirt road out to the beach. Free. Trails: There is a 9 mile trail (1st mile is the road down, and then the beach is a mile across) that goes across Waipio Valley, up the far wall, and then (after 6 miles with reportedly 13 streams to cross) reaches the unpopulated Waimanu Valley. I came back to Hawaii (not that I needed an excuse - Hawaii is one of those places that calls me back) for this hike. This time I rented a 4-wheel drive and drove down to the beach. The last time, I took the long hike down the steep the road - if you do this by foot, your knees will let you how steep it is on the way down (and the rest of your body will let you know about the hike back up). At the bottom, go right and a little bit later is the beach. There are some boulders on the right side of the beach, a nice patch of black sand, and then the Wailoa stream. Cross the Wailoa stream near the ocean (wet water crossing) - it is a slow, difficult wade across with a current and moss on the rocks in the stream (water shoes and a hiking stick help). Then there is over half a mile of the best black sand beach I've ever been to. There is a trail at the top of the beach in the trees, but how can you not walk barefoot in the surf for this stretch? The sand is as smooth as silk (not rocky like most black sand beaches). Most people don't cross the stream, so you'll likely have this area all to your self. Near the end of the beach, you can hook back on to the trail by going to the top of the beach and tiny bit through the trees (and stopping to put your shoes on). The fun begins just ahead as the dirt and rocky trail takes long switchbacks up the mountain (there is little shade and it can get warm) - about a mile and 800 feet gained. There are some wonderful views of the valley and beach along the way - pause often to look around and catch your breath. Near (not at) the top, the trail enters a thin, whispy forest and there is only one more view of the valley the rest of the way (thus, a good turning around point if you are hiking purely for the valley views) - the one view point is at the last switchback. At the top of the climb is a funky looking tree. It took me about an hour to get from the beach to the top. The trail actually widens to about 1 1/2 width and is really nice. The 2 streams I passed before turning around (felt like going back to the beach and then doing some other things) were just trinkles with rock hopping across. The trail dips up and down a little bit, but no major decents or climbs to where I turned around. Area: Lush 1 mile wide, 10 mile deep valley; beautiful black sand beach; deep blue ocean Picture When I did the hike: July 25, 2001 (to the beach), Monday August 22, 2005 (up the far side) Recommendation: Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful black sand beach. Get a drive down to the beach and enjoy gorgeous views of the valley on the hike up the far side (you can see the trail carved in the mountainside from the Waipio Overlook). Even if you don't feel like climbing the mountain, definitely go to the beach. Just wonderful. I have a feeling I'll be back again in a few years.
Pololu Valley (Big Island) Directions: From Hilo, Hwy 19 all the way to 250 until it T-intersects with Hwy 270 and take right on 270 all the way to the end of the road. From Kona, Hwy 19 to 270 and take that a long way to the end of the road. Note that the parking is very limited. Free. Trails: The wide trail goes down 500 feet (which means you go back up 500 feet) in 1/2 mile to a black sand beach - it has some smooth areas and some rock-sand areas - that is about 1/2 mile wide. Most stop at the beach, but the best is yet to come. After enjoying the beach area, hook up with the thin dirt-sand trail that is slightly inland and head up the far wall. The shady trail may get muddy at points. There are only a couple of views into the Pololu Valley as you head up. After going under the gate, the climbing is mostly done. After 1/2 mile and 500 feet gained, you reach the top and it's fairly level to the overlook, about 1/2 mile (and no shade). At the overlook is wonderful views down into Honokee Valley and up the coast. I went ahead and took the hike down into the 2nd valley, another 1/2 mile and 500 feet down. At the bottom, the trail comes out to an open area and through a bamboo forest and then to a stream. There is no true trail to the beach from here (the trail ahead goes up the far wall). I walked along the rocks along the stream to the "beach". It is a rocky beach with no sand or small rocks and not that pretty. There were some nice views up and down the coast (towards Pololu Valley you don't see from the overlook), but I don't know if it was worth the extra effort. Area: Lush valleys, nice overlooks, pretty beach When I did the hike: Sunday, August 21, 2005 Recommendation: Definitely. Go to the overlook for sure. You can skip going down into the 2nd valley unless you really feel like doing it.
Kalalau Trail - Na Pali Coast (Kauai) Directions: Hwy 56 all the way to the end at Kee Beach (a place for gorgeous sunsets). Note that Kee Beach gets crowded later in the day (but most are gone by the time the sun sets). Free. Trails: The Kalalau Trail, aka the Na Pali Coast Trail, is a rugged 11-mile hike along the cliffs of the Na Pali Coast and into the valleys. The trail goes up and down and up and down and will wear you out. To do the whole trail is a multi-day hike - if you go past the Hanakapiai Valley or plan on camping, you are supposed to get a permit from the Division of State Parks in Lihue (but I went further than the valley and didn't have a pass and no one bothered me - if you are going to camp, definitely get one). People are allowed to camp near Hanakapiai Beach (mile 2), Hanakoa Valley (mile 6), and Kalalau Beach (mile 11). I started my hike at 7:10 am and a destination of Hanakoa Valley 6 miles in. 6 miles may not sound like much, but I was tired after 4 miles as the the trail is rarely flat - you are either going up or down and switching between the two. But the views of the coast are stunning. The rocky trail (not loose rocks) goes along the Na Pali mountains - sometimes right along the cliffs (but not really a scary where you feel like you are going to fall off), sometimes down into a valley and up the other end, sometimes staying above and skirting a small valley a little inland. At the base of the Hanakapiai Valley, the trail continues across stream (bit of a challenge staying dry crossing) and baring left at the fork - baring right goes above the beach and gives some great views of the beach before (steeply) re-joining the real trail. There is a bathroom (with toilet paper!) on the left branch and the Hanakapiai Falls trail starts there. Going to the right in front of the stream will take you out to the smaller sized beach. After a tiring 6 miles, I had lunch at the stream in the Hanakoa Valley near the picnic bench (the trail is inland here). There is also a bathroom near the picnic bench (with toilet paper!!!). After finally returning to the Hanakapiai Valley, I convinced myself to go to the Hanakapiai Falls despite being very tired - I wanted to see them and I didn't think I'd be able to convince myself to do those 2 miles in to and out of the valley the next day. And I had thought it was "just" a mile to the falls. The trail branches from the Kalalau Trail just across from the bathroom and there is a sign on a tree a short way onto the trail saying Hanakapiai Falls Trail. This is not an easy hike and the rocky trail goes slowly up to the end of the valley along the stream including 3 crosses of the steam. And it's about 1 3/4 miles. But, the reward is incredible. The falls are 300 feet tall and drop into a large deep pool. Getting into the cold water will wake you up and swimming through the falls to the shallow ledge behind them will literally take your breath away. I swam in a number of waterfalls during this trip and this one blew them all away. When you swim away from the falls, turn on your back and back stroke so that you can view the falls coming down from up close. Awesome! This was probably the highlight of a great trip full of highlights. Unfortunately as it was later in the day, I didn't stay long. Back at the Kalalau Trail I also took a short visit to the Hanakapiai Beach (not that impressive, besides its remoteness) for a rest before the final leg back. And those last 2 miles were torture - it didn't seem like it coming, but it is more uphill going back than going. The sun set on me while I was making the last trudge back - ruining my plans for a beautiful sunset at Kee Beach. I finally reach my car at 7:35 pm [whimper]. This was way, way, way too much for a 1 day hike. It has been a long time since I've been that close to tears near the end of a hike due to exhaustion and pain. My feet hurt so much over the next number of hours that I had trouble falling asleep because of the pain. Area: The beautiful Na Pali coast - rugged mountains, beachs, falls. If it is raining, don't go - the rocks on the trail will get slick (if it rained the day before, it is okay to go - it rained the day before I hiked) Picture When I did the hike: July 27, 2001, Friday 8/26/05 to Hanakapiai Falls Recommendation: You'd be stupid to do what I did - ask my feet and they'll tell you that. But you should definitely hike to Hanakapiai Beach and hike into the valley to Hanakapiai Falls. Definitely wear or bring your swimsuit and go under the falls - it would also be a good place for lunch. If you want to go on a longer hike, continue on the Kalalau trail a mile or 2 further and stop at the large, comfy rock at the edge of a valley and enjoy further views up the coast (you'll know the rock I'm talking about when you get to it). Turn around here - the views the rest of the way to Hanakoa Valley aren't more impressive than this. A kayak trip or boat ride out to Kalalau Beach might also be a fun thing to do.
Kukui Trail (Kauai) Directions: Hwy 50 to Hwy 550 or Hwy 552 (which joins Hwy 550 after 8 miles) to Kokee State Park. The Kukui Trailhead is just before the mile mark 9 on the right. Park along side the road. No facilities (though toilets and water at the 2 overlooks along Hwy 550 and at the park headquarters). Free. Trails: Talk about steep. This loose dirt one-person trail goes down, down, down without switchbacking to the river. The loose dirt makes it slow going down and the steepness makes it slow going back up. There are wonderful canyon views on the way down. Once the trail goes pass the long rock slope (no shade), it heads into the trees and there are no canyon views until the river. The trail becomes dirt and rocky and is still heading down. At the Koaie Canyon trail junction, there is a swim hole straight ahead and a nice place to rest next to the river. I continued up stream on the Koaie trail for about 15 minutes before turning around to get some more canyon views. The Koaie trail continues 3 miles upstream and all the way out to Waimea going down stream (8 miles). It took me 1:45 to get to the river (and I did enjoy the swim hole) and 2 hours to hike back out. Trail Length + Elevation: 2.5 miles (one-way), 2000 feet Area: Orange canyon, When I did the hike: Thursday August 25, 2005 Recommendation: You have to be in shape to do this one. It's a hard hike, but the canyon views are worth it. Don't do it if it's raining or muddy.
Awa'awapuhi-Nu'alolo Loop (Kauai) Directions: Hwy 50 to Hwy 550 or Hwy 552 (which joins Hwy 550 after 8 miles) to Kokee State Park. The Awa'awapuhi Trailhead is just past mile mark 17 on the left. The Nu'alolo Trailhead is just before the Kokee park headquarters. Free. Trails: A combination of 3 trails and the road make this loop. There are no canyon views for this hike, but some great views of the Na Pali Coast. The Awa'awapuhi Trail goes 3.1 miles down (about 1,300 feet) to an overlook with views of the Nu'alolo Valley. The deep valley is surround by cliffs, at the edge of one of those cliffs. Look across the way and see that little patch of trees out on the orange edge and that is the Lolo Vista. The Awa'awapuhi Trail is a hard-packed dirt trail that is 2-person width for 2 miles before narrowing to 1-person width for the rest and is in the forest until almost the end. .3 miles from the overlook, the Nu'alolo Cliff Trail heads along the inner edge of the valley. Despite the warning signs of possible washouts, this narrow trail is in good shape - there were only 2 spots that I could see that might be a problem after bad weather. After 2.1 miles, the trail ends at the Nu'alolo Trail. Go right onto the Nu'alolo Trail for .5 miles along the ridge - my nerves weren't thrilled with this portion - out to the Lolo Vista. You can see all the way up the Na Pali Coast from here - all the way to Kee Beach. There is the occasional buzz of helicopters in the area. I had lunch at the Lolo Vista. Back at the Nu'alolo Cliff Trail junction, I continued along the miserable Nu'alolo Trail for 3.5 miles. The trail starts with a _steep_ hike up that I would want to go down. It then continues going up and down (sometimes steeply, but not as bad as that first climb) in the sun for the next 1.5 miles. When it finally gets into the forest, I encountered a number of tall grassy fields to trudge through. The trail widens to a 2-person trail the last half a mile. Then it is about a 2 mile hike up the paved road (Hwy 550) back to the car. It was a 12 miles loop. There are distance markers every quarter mile. Area: The high cliffs of the Na Pali Coast, forests Picture When I did the hike: July 29, 2001 Recommendation: The views of the Nu'alolo Valley are incredible. But stay away from the Nu'alolo Trail, except for the .5 mile hike out to the Lolo Vista (must go there). Take the Awa'awapuhi Trail out to its overlook and then take the Nu'alolo Cliff Trail over to the Nu'alolo Trail and out to the Lolo Vista. Go back the way you came for an 11.4 mile hike. Don't do it if it is raining (drizzling/misting is probably okay).
Canyon Trail (Kauai) Directions: Hwy 50 to Hwy 550 or Hwy 552 (which joins Hwy 550 after 8 miles) to Kokee State Park. Halemanu Road is right before mile marker 14 and the Kokee State Park entrance sign. If you don't have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, park along Hwy 550 where the turn off for Halemanu Road is - you'll have to hike .8 miles of rugged dirt road to the trailhead. If you were smart and rented a 4-wheel drive vehicle, engage the 4-wheel drive and take a right onto the one-lane dirt Halemanu Road. After about half a mile, there will be a road to the right. Take that right and park in the wider area just before the deep wheel ruts in the road. The trailhead is on the other side of those ruts (and there is no parking area in front of the ruts). Free. Trails: The last hike of my trip and I wasn't in the mood to hike (thank goodness I had a 4-wheel drive else I probably wouldn't have made it out to the canyon besides views from Hwy 550). The trail goes for 2.4 miles along the canyon to the Kumuwela Viewpoint. Shortly after starting the trail, take a right for a short hike out to the Cliff Viewpoint for your first views of the canyon. Back at the trail, continue on and the trail descends to an expansive open cliff top with fuller views of part of the canyon. A short ways later is the Kokee Stream and Waipo'o Falls. You are above the falls, so it's nothing special. The trail continues, but I turned around here (when you aren't in the mood to hike, it is best not to push the issue). I cheated and drove my car out to the Kumuwela Viewpoint (actually, after driving a ways on the dirt roads I had to stop as a tree was in the road and hike a short ways out to the overlook). I had lunch there enjoying the pretty view of the canyon. Area: The cliffs along the Waimea Canyon Picture When I did the hike: July 30, 2001 Recommendation: Since I didn't do it, it's hard for me to make a recommendation. If you are expecting to see a waterfall on this hike, don't do it. If you want good views of the canyon (and hopefully the sun will come out for you), do it.
Pihea Vista (Kauai) Directions: Hwy 50 to Hwy 550 or Hwy 552 (which joins Hwy 550 after 8 miles) to Kokee State Park. Take the road all the way to the end and park in the area near the gate. Free. Trails: They closed the last mile of road that goes to the last viewpoint to traffic, so you have to hike a boring 1 mile (no views) of paved road (grumble) to the kick off for the trailhead. It is 1 mile of packed dirt along the ridge, with wonderful views along the way, to the vista. There are lots of small ups and downs and then a big up to the vista. Just before the climb to the vista is the junction for the Alaka'i Swamp trail (my original plan was to take that junction, but I didn't feel like a long hike that day - plus I need something new to do for my next Hawaii trip). The views down into Kalalau Valley are actually better before reaching the vista, so you could skip that last climb (which is steep). Trail Length: 2 miles, one-way Area: Open ridge looking into pretty valleys. When I did the hike: Saturday August 27, 2005 Recommendation: Definitely. If you are in this area, you are here for the views and this trail has some great views from above of the Na Pali coast. Note: you need to do this in the morning as it's usually overcast by noon (and the clouds come in quick).