Hikes In Kauai
Sleeping Giant Trails
Kuamoo-Nounou Trail (2 mi est): The trail starts approximately ½ miles beyond Opaekaa Falls on Kuamoo Road (Hwy 580) and connects with the Nounou Mt. (West side) Trail. It is routed laterally along the west side of Nounou Forest Reserve through groves of tree planted in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The trail in fairly flat with slight inclines, and is decently shaded with overhanging’s from a variety of trees and tall bush. This is a great day hike for a single person or a family with kids. There are no significant views until you reach the picnic area where the Nounou Mtn East Side Trail picks up and you are then treated with a spectacular view of Mt Wai’ale’ale and a peek at the vast ridgelines that draw across the valley.
Nounou Mountain Trail-East side (1.75 mi): The trail starts at a parking area adjacent to the Dept. of Water pump site besides Haleilio road in Wailua House lots. The trail is lined with gorgeous tree and bush varietals and is shaded for the majority of the daytime. The trail itself has very little incline is actually great for trail runners. The trail ends at a picnic shelter near the “chest” of the Sleeping Giant where there are vistas of the ocean coastline, as well as inland to the Wailua River and Mt Wai’ale’ale. The west side of the trail joins this trail near the 1.5-mile post.
Nounou Mountain Trail-West Side (1.5 mi): The trail begins along Kamalu Road (Hwy 581) in the Wailua Homesteads at telephone pole #11. It starts
along a right-of-way, and then climbs up the mountain to join with the East Side Trail. The trail is routed through forests planted in the 1930’s and is quite steep. The elevation gain is approximately 1,000 feet, however is well worth the climb once you reach the vista points which vastly illustrate the entire East Side of the island, including the Wailua countryside, Anahola’s Kalalea Mountain down to the shores of Kalapaki in Lihue. Once you’ve reached the picnic tables at the top, there is a resting area complete with a grassy knoll for a break from the climb.
You can continue up and across the Giant’s ‘neck’ up to the ‘forehead’ and ‘nose’ of the mountainside for an unprecedented view of both sides of the mountain. However, this piece is not highly recommended for those who have a fear of heights, have difficulty climbing, or have any physical ailments or limitations of any kinds. This part of the trail is dangerous; so proceed with caution if you choose to hike this last piece.
Lihue Koloa Forest Reserve
Keahua Forestry Arboretum: The arboretum or “loop road” called by the locals, is at the very top of Kuamo’o Road approx. 6.1 miles. The arboretum is a gorgeous area for day use, for picnics or families with small children to play. It was originally developed as an outdoor nature classroom that illustrates the benefits of forest management, including examples of both native and introduced tree species.
Many times the streams are too heavy to cross, so it is best to park in the first obvious parking area, from there you can walk around to the nearby picnic areas. If there have been heavy rains, avoid crossing the stream by foot or by vehicle, however during many of the summer months, crossing the stream is possible and there is another parking lot located across the stream.
Kuilau Ridge Trail (2.1 mi): The trail starts at the top of Kuamo’o Road approx. 6 miles, before you reach the Keahua Arboretum. It is a very scenic route with views of Wai’ale’ale valley, and is a very picturesque environment with local birds flying through the tops of trees and perching as if they were to pose just for your camera. At the top of this 30 -minute light incline, there is a sweet small picnic area and a couple of benches to rest. Here you can enjoy the lush view of the trees, ferns, flowers and shrubbery along the hillsides and take a moment to catch some sunshine before turning back to head back down the trail.
Moalepe Trail (2.25 mi): The trail starts in the Wailua Homesteads at the end of the pavement on Olohena Road. It begins as a right-of-way crossing a pasture lease within the Wailua Game Management Area. The beginning trail is a rather unexciting trail as far as views or lushness; however, you get a real sense of a hunting or horse trail. The trail eventually opens up and begins to dip into the Wailua Valley. The entire trail joins Kuilau Trail at 2.15 miles and ends up at the top of the Kuilau Ridge. If you go the entire distance, it can take up to 3 hours. However, you can turn around at the wooden bridge and head back down the Moalepe portion of the trail in which you came up.