• Location

    GPS – lat 22.0614 long -159.3465

  • Distance

    2 miles each way

  • 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 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. It is 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.