When I visited Kauai last fall, I had a chance to hike a few trails in Koke’e State Park on the west side of the beautiful Garden Island.
The trailhead for the Awa’awapuhi Trail is off Kokee Road. Enter “Awa’awapuhi Trail Parking” in Google Map. Easy enough. There is no bathroom at the trailhead so stop at the Koke’e State Park Campground on the way if you need one.
After putting on a can of sunscreen and bug spray, we began the hike. Without Xena by my side, I felt like I was hiking without a backpack. Unprepared. I was hoping to meet other dogs on the trail, but there was none.
This heavily trafficked trail was well maintained and easy to follow.
In the beginning, it felt more like a nature walk than a hike with signs for a variety of native plant species along the trail.
I’ve read that the first mile can be very muddy but it was not when we visited. There were sections where the trail was taken over by exposed tree roots. A muddy condition would make this section more challenging. I recommend proper hiking shoes with high traction.
In fact, this hike feels easy all the way to the lookout because it’s all downhill. Make sure you save energy for the second half of the hike because it’s all uphill!
The trail led us through a rainforest first.
After about 1.5 miles, the forest began to thin out. Then the trail led us through the high desert-like terrain. And the fog started to roll in. Not a good sign when you are about to approach a lookout with an amazing view of Napali coast and the Awaawapuhi Valley.
At about the 3-mile mark, we came to the junction of the Nualolo Cliff Trail. The Awaawapuhi Nualolo Lookout is only 0.25 miles from here. Stay on the Awaawapuhi Trail.
After making the way through this overgrown grassy clearing, we reached the lookout.
Awaawapuhi Nualolo Lookout is at the end of the trail and it is supposed to have spectacular panoramic views. Well, on that day, we didn’t continue to the end of the trail to the edge. There was no visibility so there was no point. That’s OK. It happens.
We found a quiet spot for lunch instead, away from other hikers. There was no view but we had a nice company.
This red-crested cardinal kept us company. Later I learned that these birds were native to South America and were introduced to the Hawaiian Islands around 1930. We shared an apple with this little dude or dudette.
Although we didn’t get to see the view from the Awaawapuhi Nualolo Lookout, it was a fun hike with many highlights to point out. Here are my favorites.
As for the promised amazing view, we made up by doing another hike later in the trip. And yes, it was spectacular!
Good to Know:
- Hike date: 9.9.18
- Distance: 6.7 miles RT
- Elevation gain: 1,976 feet
- Minimum elevation: 2,161 feet
- Maximum elevation: 4,137 feet
- Difficulty rating: Difficult
- Trailhead: 22.141411, -159.648676 (Awa’awapuhi Trail Parking)
- No toilet
- Permit/Fee: None
- Dog-friendly: Yes
- Notable: heavily trafficked, exposed tree roots, muddy, rainforest, cliff, ocean view, elevation gain in the 2nd half of the hike