The Kuilau Trail is a great walk for enjoying the many species of plant life on Kauai. Follow the old road that turns into a trail that leads you to amazing panoramas of Makaleha Mountains. The beginning of the trail will introduce you to a variety of native and non-native plants. At about the one mile point you can take a break in a grassy field bordered by an Ohia forest, a picnic table and sweeping views of lush valleys and Mount Waialeale and the Makaleha Mountain Range.
The Kuilau Trail connects here to an east route that meets up with the Moalepe Trail. Further down the trail you will come to a wooden footbridge which crosses the Opaekaa Stream. The Kuilau Trail is located in the Keahua Arboretum. Follow Hwy 580 through the rural neighborhoods of Wailua and up into the forested park area of Keahua. The trail begins just before the park area on the right. Designated parking for about three cars is available. If parking is full drive a bit further and more parking is available within a short walk.
Hanakoa to Kalalau ( 5 miles) The remaining 5 miles after Hanakoa the trail becomes drier and more open with less opportunity for shade. Many prts of the trail are narrow and have steep drop offs on the ocean side. Use extreme caution. Hike through lush valleys, forge up steep inclines of jagged sea cliffs, cool off in cool mountain streams and drop back to sea level to Kalalau Beach.
Reconstruction of the trail happened from 1935-1937 and continues to be maintained to fight erosion from weather, feral goats and wild boar. Remains of lava rock terraces built by the Hawaiians can still be seen today. These terraces in these valleys were used to cultivate the taro plant, a staple in the Hawaiians diet similar to that of the potato.
Camping Permits are required for any hiking beyond Hanakapiai Valley
Hiking Kalalau requires a bit of planning and general conditioning. A maximum stay of 5 nights is allowed in Na Pali Coast State Park. Within the 5-night maximum. No two consecutive nights are allowed at Hanakapiai or Hanakoa. Designated camping areas along the trail do not have tables or drinking water. Composting toilets are available at some of the sites.
Heading into Kauai’s interior and remote terrain offers dome of the most beautiful backdrops on the world. By doing a little planning and being prepared you will make your hiking trip one of your best Kauai experiences.
- Hiking Plan Always tell someone where you are hiking (name and location of trail) you plan to hike and when you plan on returning.
- Water Drink one-half to one full quart of water or sports drink each and every hour you are hiking in the heat. Carry your water bottle in your hand and drink small amounts often. Make sure if you are drinking water from any streams or fresh water sources you purify your water with a purifier is certified to filter microbial leptosporosis or giardia (not all do).
- Food Carry high-energy, salty snacks as well as meals. The hike out is much easier when you provide your body with enough calories to support the extreme physical activity you are engaged in.
- Weather Check the weather before you set off on your hike. Kauai Weather Forecast
- First Aid It is important to know that cuts in tropical climates should be monitored closely. Don not expose open wounds or cuts to river water.
- Proper Footwear There are a variety of footwear options to choose from. The best advise is to wear what is comfortable for you. Do not break in new shoes along a hiking trail.
- Clothing Dress in layers so you can protect your skin from the tropical sun. Wearing a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen is recommended. A light rain jacket is recommended.