• View of Wailua from Nounou Trail
  • Features

    Birdwatching, Forrest, Views, Wildlife

  • Difficulty


The Nounou Trail, also known as the Sleeping Giant Trail, is a popular hiking trail on the picturesque island of Kauai in Hawaii. This trail is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, challenging terrain, and breathtaking panoramic views, making it a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Location: The Nounou Trail is on the eastern side of Kauai, near Wailua. Its accessibility from major tourist areas like Lihue and Kapaa makes it a convenient choice for hikers exploring the island in a neighborhood known as the Wailua House lots at the top of Haleilo Road near the water pump station. This east-side trail has a rapid elevation gain of 1,000 feet and an ocean view behind you the entire way up. This trail is drier and will have better footing during a rainy period than the other Sleeping Giant trails, which are lined with flowering low-lined shrubs compared to the shady forested side of the West Kuamoo Trail off Hwy 580. The east side trail will meet up with the west trail at about .25 miles before the top.

Terrain: The trail gets its nickname, the Sleeping Giant, from the ridge’s silhouette resembling a reclining human figure. Hikers navigate a series of steep ascents, rocky terrain, and lush vegetation as they ascend towards the summit. The trail is approximately 1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers) long, offering a moderately challenging hike.

Scenic Beauty: Hikers are rewarded with some of the most spectacular views on Kauai. As they make their way up the ridge, they can admire the lush greenery of the island, the Wailua River, and the sparkling Pacific Ocean. The summit provides a 360-degree view of the island’s landscape, including neighboring mountains, valleys, and coastline.

Wildlife and Flora: The Nounou Trail is surrounded by diverse Hawaiian flora and fauna. Hikers might encounter native plant species, colorful birds, and even unique insects. The vibrant tropical surroundings add to the trail’s charm.

Difficulty Level: While not extremely long, the Nounou Trail can be moderately challenging due to its steep inclines and uneven terrain. It is suitable for hikers with a moderate level of fitness and experience. Hiking shoes with good traction are recommended.

Trail Etiquette: Visitors are encouraged to respect the environment and follow Leave No Trace principles, ensuring the trail remains pristine for future generations. Stay on designated paths, pack out all trash, and be cautious while exploring the ridge.

Best Times to Hike: The Nounou Trail can be hiked year-round, but the weather is generally more favorable during Kauai’s dry season, which typically runs from April to September. Mornings are often the best time to hike to avoid the midday heat.

Note: It’s essential to check current trail conditions and obtain any necessary permits before starting your hike. Local regulations and guidelines can change, so consulting with park authorities or visitor centers is advisable.

Overall, the Nounou Trail on Kauai is a captivating outdoor adventure that offers a rewarding blend of physical challenge and natural beauty, making it a memorable experience for anyone exploring the enchanting island of Kauai.

Hiking Tips

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.
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Average rating:  
 3 reviews
 by Andrew Laker
Poorly marked

We got maybe a half mile up the east side when we came to a fork in the trail and a sign that read "For your safety stay on designated trail." It had an arrow that was faded, but someone had spray painted a pink arrow on a rock. The trail looked more like rock climbing instead of hiking, so we looked to see where the other trail went. It had another pink arrow spray painted on it, and this path didn't look any better. We probably could have managed to go up, but being unfamiliar with the trail and having lost confidence in what might come next, we decided it wasn't worth it and returned to the base. We saw a local who had been trail running up and down it repeatedly, so we felt we were probably being overly cautious, but Indiana trails aren't anything like that, lol. We figured better safe than sorry, especially when we were just on vacation. There are far safer trails with better views in Kauai anyway. Leave this one to the locals.

 by Michelle
Amazing view

My husband and I did this hike today and really enjoyed it. We found it challenging but doable and loved the many focal points along the way. The final ending was a breathtaking 360 panorama view of the East Coast.

 by Travelingtogether
Sleeping giant hike

This was a wonderful hike. Some steep rock scurrying. We hike regularly and appreciated the challenge, and the exercise we got. On Maui we have a few hikes that we do regularly just for the exercise, and while we were hiking the sleeping giant trail we saw many locals using this trail for there regular exercise. If I lived on Kauai I would do this hike often.

My husband and I made a video on the hike, and there are many more hiking Kauai videos on our youtube channel Traveling Together