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How to Hike the Awa’awapuhi Trail in Hawaii

Hawaii National Parks Insider Guides Hiking
by Ashley Welton Oct 22, 2017

The Awa’awapuhi Trail on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, is a single track hike not for those with a fear of heights. Starting at 4,120 feet you’ll descend to 2,500 feet to the trail’s end—which concludes at a cliff with broad views of the valleys and the immense Pacific ocean.

The Awa’awapuhi trail is in Waimea Canyon, specifically Koke’e State Park, on Kauai’s west side of the island. It’s one of many trails that end in panoramic views and heart clenching dropoffs. It’s a 6.4-mile round trip, with an almost 2,000-foot elevation change each way, but the payoffs are incredible.

The trail is named after the Awa’awapuhi valley you’ll see on one side at the end of the hike. The other valley you’ll have the pleasure of viewing is Nualolo Valley. It’s better to visit during dry days, as the track can get slick, but if you have sturdy boots and a steeled spirit, you can go whenever you want.

Koke’e is almost 4,400 acres of underexplored nature. There are tons of trails and roads that weave through the highland forest. It has a totally different feel than the nature you experience at sea level. When you’re done playing on the Awa’awapuhi trail, you’ll want to explore the rest of the park, maybe even pitch a tent for the night.

How to get there

Awa’awapuhi Trail is in the Koke’e State Park—a forest reserve on the west side of Kauai island. The trail starts at a parking area near the 17-mile marker of highway 550.

What to consider

  • It’s important to stay on the trails in this park. Other roads may branch off onto private property, or end in sheer cliff drops that you’ll want no part of.
  • The trail is considered moderate, but if you’re in good shape it’s pretty easy.
  • Don’t jump the railing at the end of the hike (no matter what Instagram photos you’ve seen), as the narrow stone bridge is unstable and could easily slide away.
  • The trail is clearly marked and simple to follow.
  • Camping is an allowed, but under-utilized, feature of Koke’e State Park. It’s totally worth the effort.

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