• Features


  • Difficulty


The Pihea Trail or Kilohana Lookout is located at the end of Hwy. 550 at the Puu o Kila scenic lookout. Watch the graceful sea birds catch the wind drafts and fly freely over the valleys and Kalalau beach below. As you begin the trail, you will find yourself perched on a land bridge straddling 4,000 feet above the Kalalau Valley floor and the Alakai Swamp, with inland views stretching to Mount Waialeale, “The Wettest Spot on Earth.”

After the vista and the short downhill stretch, you will meet up with the boardwalk that follows the trail through a forest of Ohia, Koa, wild ferns, and other native plants. Keep your eyes open for rare sightings of one of the many birds that make this forest their home.

The Elepaio is an indigenous bird found in Kokee State Park, it is named because its beautiful song sounds like its name. Stop at the Kokee Museum to pick up a hiking map that will be useful and informative, as well as a guide to identifying many of the rare and spectacular birds and plants throughout the forest.

The Alakai Swamp is the highest swamp in the world, and the weather is a big factor in being able to have a clear view from Kilohana Lookout at the end. The weather moves in quickly and can change constantly, so if you reach the end, stay awhile, and you might just experience one of those rare days when Wainiha Valley, Hanalei Bay, and sweeping views as far as Kilauea Lighthouse will be part of the experience.

Key features and highlights:

  • Scenic Beauty: The Pihea Trail is famous for its panoramic vistas. Hikers will be treated to sweeping views of the lush Alakai Swamp, which is often shrouded in mist, creating an ethereal and otherworldly atmosphere. On clear days, you can see the Napali Coast and the Pacific Ocean in the distance.
  • Alakai Swamp: The trail traverses through the Alakai Swamp, a high-altitude wetland that is home to unique flora and fauna, including rare native plants like the ‘ohi’a lehua and the vibrant red lehua blossom. It’s also a birdwatcher’s paradise, offering opportunities to spot native Hawaiian birds like the ‘apapane and ‘i’iwi.
  • Challenging Terrain: The Pihea Trail is approximately 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) round-trip, and it is known for its challenging and often muddy terrain. Hikers should be prepared for uneven paths, tree roots, and potentially slippery conditions, especially after rain.
  • Pihea Vista: The trail culminates at Pihea Vista, where hikers are rewarded with one of the most captivating views in Hawaii. Looking out over the Kalalau Valley and the rugged Napali Coast, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world. It’s an ideal spot for taking photographs and enjoying a well-deserved rest.
  • Weather Considerations: Kauai’s weather can be unpredictable, and the trail is often shrouded in mist or rain. Hikers should bring appropriate clothing and gear to stay comfortable and dry.
  • Trailhead: The Pihea Trail can be accessed from the Pu’u O Kila Lookout, which is located at the end of Highway 550 in Koke’e State Park. The trailhead is well-marked and easy to find.

Overall, the Pihea Trail offers a remarkable hiking experience that allows visitors to connect with the natural beauty and unique ecosystems of Kauai. It’s an adventure that promises both physical challenges and awe-inspiring rewards for those willing to embark on this trek through the heart of the Garden Isle’s wilderness.

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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