Photo: Chase Clausen/Shutterstock

Everything to Know About Hiking Hawaii's Awa Awapuhi Trail

by Matador Creators Jan 12, 2023

Hawaii’s Awa awapuhi Trail is an incredible experience for anyone lucky enough to have a day to spend hiking in Hawaii. The trail is in Koke’e State Park on the island of Kauai and is a moderately-challenging hike with stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

If you’re planning to hike the Awa awapuhi Trail, here’s what to know to best prepare yourself and make the most of the gorgeous experience.

What to expect on the Awa awapuhi Trail

person on the awa awapuhi trail on Kauai

Photo: Chase Clausen/Shutterstock

This is a six-mile, out-and-back trail in Koke’e State Park on the island of Kauai. The trail offers a moderately-challenging hike with amazing views of the surrounding landscape, including waterfalls, cliffs, tropical forests, and the stunning Na Pali Coast. It is considered a moderate hike on paper, but it can be difficult due to the elevation gain and loss. The trail is known for its views and its diverse terrain, which includes muddy parts, rocky parts, and some sandy parts. It gains about 1,950 feet of elevation along the route.

Aside from the coastal views, the trail offers a great chance to observe endemic wildlife such as birds, lizards, and frogs. But keep your eyes up: there are some tricky parts of the trail, including steep sections and a few slippery sections due to mud, especially in the first mile. Be sure to take your time and be extra cautious when going through these areas. Most people stop on the grassy/sandy cliffs at the turn-around point for lunch as they offer great views of the coastline. Save your energy for the trip back as it’s mostly uphill to get back to the trailhead.

The best time of year to visit and hike the Awa awapuhi Trail is between April and October when temperatures tend to be milder, which makes midday hiking more pleasant. However, Hawaii can experience sudden changes in weather throughout all seasons, so you’ll need to plan your hike for a day when the skies are mostly clear. Between November and March, some areas may become inaccessible due to high rainfall.

Tips for a successful hike on the Awa awapuhi Trail

Kalalau lookout panorama on Hawaii island Kauai. Beautiful color sunset with rainy clouds. View of the Kalalau Valley and Na Pali coast

If you hike early you’ll have plenty of time to check out the rest of the park’s stunning viewpoints. Photo: David Nemecek/Shutterstock

There are a few tips that can help you make the most of your experience on the Awa awapuhi Trail and in Koke’e State Park

  • Start early: This will help you avoid any potential afternoon storms.
  • Take your time: Enjoy the experience and take time to take in your surroundings. Don’t rush if you don’t have to.
  • Be aware of your footing: Be extra cautious when going through slippery sections or steep sections and only wear shoes with good tread.
  • Bring plenty of water: And remember to drink it, even if it’s not especially hot outside.
  • Pack extra layers: Bring a rain jacket (ideally one that doubles as a windbreaker) and possibly a UPF shirt or extra sun-protective layer in case you start to get sunburned.
  • Check the forecast: Don’t even think about attempting the trail if there’s any significant rain in the forest. You don’t want to be on a rocky overlook or narrow, muddy trail in the middle of pouring rain.

How to reach the trail

Koke’e State Park is in the northwest of Kauai; the closest popular tourist area is Waimea, to the south. It’s about a 45-minute drive to reach the trailhead. There’s a small parking lot near the trailhead on Kokee Road. It’s $5 per person to enter the state park, which is generally open from sunrise to sunset, so try to be off the trail before dark.

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