Distance: 11 miles
Type: Out & Back
Elevation gain: 2,000ft (from 3,750 - 4,400ft)
Kauai, the westernmost of the inhabited Hawaiian islands, is also the oldest in geological terms. Each island in the chain is successively created from volcanic activity then slowly eroded away. The 'Big Island' of Hawaii is the newest of the chain, but even that too will be supplanted by the new island of Loihi when it finally breaks through the surface of the Pacific Ocean sometime the next 100,000 years.
Take a westerly drive around Kauai until you run out of road and you'll find yourself overlooking the plunging cliffs of Kalalau Valley on the fabled Na Pali Coast.
The only way to explore beyond this point by land is on foot, and the well-maintained Pihea trail leading to the Alaka‘i Swamp trail is an exhilarating way to do so. Hike along cliff edges, through jungle and across misty mountain-top swamps to reach the trail's end and clifftop views over Wainiha Pali.
We've labelled this hike as 'hard' because of some rugged terrain and slippery conditions, but your experience may be easier. Alternatively for a shorter hike, choose only the Pihea trail from the Kalalau overlook, or join the trail at the Alaka'i Swamp trail. Both are 5-star trails, but string them together and they're even better!
- Trailspotting Images: Alaka'i Swamp Trail on Flickr
- Wikipedia: Koke'e State Park (Wikipedia)