The Okolehao Trail on the North Shore of Kauai is a 2.5 mile trail that will give you a workout as you climb to 1,250 foot elevation. The trek is well worth it and you will be rewarded with captivating views of Hanalei Bay, verdant Hanalei Valley, Makana, Kilauea Lighthouse and the Napali Coast.
As you enter Hanalei cross the iron bridge over Hanalei River and take an immediate left and follow Ohiki Road (the road between the river and the taro patches) to the trail head and parking. Designated parking for the trail is on the left and starts near the end of Ohiki Road at the remains of a dirt road used when Okolehao (a Hawaiian liquor) was being distilled from the roots of ti plants. A sturdy hiking stick and mosquito repellent are recommended to make the trek more enjoyable. The beginning of the trail is steep and the foliage is thick with various Hawaiian Ti, wild orchids, Lauae fern and other native plants.
There are two plateaus along the trail to stop and take in the views. After the the first five minutes you will reach your first rewarding vistas of Kilauea Lighthouse, Hanalei Bay and Makana, also known as Bali Hai. The trail is steep to the top, but the views are worth the work and the bench at the top will be a rewarding rest-stop to take in the surrounding views.
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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Wonderful hike but it is a workout.! Thank you to whoever laid out the netting as it was slick in parts. The hike to the 1st lookout is the steepest. Continuing to the next lookout is much easier.... fairly flat for quite while before going up again. The marvellous view and bench that await you make it worth the effort. We stopped about ten minutes past the bench, before reaching the 2nd rope climb. Didn't even need the first rope for assistance. (submitted by 59-yr old reasonably fit woman)
We tried to go to the trail yesterday and were turned away by county workers right after the bridge. They had no idea how long it would be before it is opened again. We are praying for everyone in Hanalei who was impacted by the big rains the weekend of April 14-15, 2018.
Great trail, takes over 1 hour to the top, needs to be a time guide at the bottom as it's slow going but not a great distance.
Machete would help, pack food and water.
So the first day, i go up there with a liter of water and a granola bar. My goal was to hike to the ear where there is a tree sticking out, visible from far away. Well, i hike up 35 minutes and i see a bench, i am thinking, that was easy! Huh, when i got back, i was looking at the pictures i took. As you can guess, i wasnt at the top, wasn't even close. Because i still see the ear tip with the tree in the pictures, far far away :). By the way the water and snack was plenty for me, i don't need to go prepared as much but i would recommend going prepared specially for the past the bench portion of the hike. It is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT, you need long pants and long sleeve shirt, unless you can endure the constant poking and scraping fern plants. I had to, as i was in my swim trunks and nothing else.
So day 2, i go back there, same amount of water and snack (there are a lot of those red berries you can eat alongside the trail, high in juice and vitamins. It will not make you sick. Eat as much as you can. Anyways, i am hiking past the bench and it ia getting harder and harder and harder. Dead fern plants digging in to my legs and chest as i bob and weave through the path. I climb down the first rope, than the 2nd and the longest 3rd one. I do not recommend going to hime this trail alone if your goal is to make it to the end. After the 3rd rope i hiked quite a bit more and i was still too far away from the first tip of the mountain. I mean i am hiking and hiking and it seems like the top of the mountain is getting farther and farther. There are part of the hikes where you are scared to look at either side of you, as it is a very high drop into bunch of plants. Probably 70 degree andgle drop. The trail is very slippery. The rain will increase the odds of you being swallowed by the forest. But anyways, after a little further hike, i decided to turn around and try it some other time with a machete (as i was told i needed it to get to the top).
This trail sure has some great view points but only a few times thru out the trail, any other time you HAVE to keep your eyes on the trail, like i said, specially pass the first metal bench view point (i dont know if there is another one on the top).
Good luck to everyone.
So day 2, i go back
I took my family - wife and 2 boys 13,12. First 1.5 miles was strenuous but reasonable. Then it gets increasingly difficult. My 13 yo and I pushed past mile 2 to top. This was very difficult with a handful of 10-20 meter steep rope climbs. 3.5 hours round trip. Dry conditions. An Epic 1/2 day hike.
Apparantly Susan did not finish this trail ... You can get to the summit where you have amazing view but it's really hard as you have to climb up and down (there are ropes) It's technical trail, strenuous but rewarding.
Not too strenuous due to only being 2.5 miles. It's really a nice hike for a little exercise and awesome views of Hanalei Bay and BaliHai.