Aloha Kauai Fans!
My name is Billy O’Sullivan and just this week I made about my 25th trip up to Kokee State Park at the top of the Waimea Canyon. Specifically we went up to hike the Kukui Trail (one of the hikes we hadn’t checked off the to do list yet). I don’t care how many times I go up there, it just amazes us again and again. Had a really great trip and learned a few things about the trails up there so I wanted to share.
Let me set the scene: It’s January, night of rain before this crisp morning and we are headed out to play on the trail. We had amazing accommodations in a Private Cabin but plenty are available for rental. Call The Lodge (808) 335-6061 for rates and availability.
Incase you have no idea where Kokee even IS, here’s a map with some great links to places to stay and other info.
Here’s where we woke up. Not exactly feeling like “Hawaii” right?! But that’s what’s so magical about this place! Here you are in Hanalei on the beach one moment and a 3 hour drive later you are in a completely different world. Up in Kokee it drops into the 30’s overnight so please make sure to pack some warm gear. If you are staying in a cabin also buy wood. If you think you are going to pull wood off the side of the road and burn it, good luck ;). If you don’t bring it up dry, don’t count on staying super warm overnight. Trust me I’ve made that mistake and it didn’t score me too many points with the Misses.
After checking out the board at the Kokee Museum to make sure our trail wasn’t closed, we took a quick trip to the Kalalau Lookout to do a little stretching and enjoy the glorious sun that greeted us.
Then we headed down the hill about 8 miles to mile marker 9 where the Kukui Trail starts off the East side of the road. Best place to park is on the West side of the road where there are about 10 tandem spots to park.
Here’s what they tell you to expect on paper:
They aren’t joking about the physically fit or strenuous part. Seriously. It’s steep. Like thighs burning all the way back up for what feels like 10 miles steep! What they don’t tell you is that the trail is very easy to lose as well. We lost it. Twice. After much back and forth I’ve decided not to post a bunch of pictures and ruin the organic journey you’ll experience. Make sure to bring some good energy bars or gels + hydration packs so you can keep your hands free. I made the mistake of holding a Gatorade in one hand and regretted it. One of the times we lost the trail I had to scale back up one of the red hills that literally crumbled as we scampered up it to find our way back to the marked trail. Having the water on your back is a much safer route.
When heading down take your time and look for the metal staked signs from the county marking the mileage. Also look for pink ribbons tied to trees etc. As they say in the description above these trails wash out from flooding so what you think is the trail isn’t always the intended route. Plan for about 4 hours top to bottom. I’ll leave you with this shot from the top of the trail to get you excited. It’s gonna be a tough day, but well worth it! As one of our legendary Kauai Hikers Eric Rohlffs says “Embrace the filth”… ALOHA!
Team Leader and Avid Hiker
Kauai Real Estate Group
Call me for info on other great hikes up in Kokee.