Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,862.00 ft (567.54 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
5.75 mi (9.25 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Awa’awapuhi trail is a great option for those who want to enjoy the Nā Pali Coast but don’t feel like braving one of the most dangerous trails in the world to do that. It starts in Koke’e State Park and snakes down and back up the steep walls of the Nā Pali Coast Forest Reserve and offers stunning views of the shoreline and the ocean, given there’s no cloud cover. Especially during the rain season, it can get very wet and muddy, which adds another layer of adventure to this hike.

Start at the Awa’awapuhi trailhead and head out on the Awa'awapuhi Trail. You may notice a pile of walking sticks people picked up on their way back up the trail and left at the trailhead—feel free to pick one up to use it on your hike.

Follow the Awa’awapuhi trail for 2.5 miles. There are a few steeper and more difficult sections where the trail has been washed out and tree roots and rocks make the journey a bit more treacherous. After 2.5 miles, you’ll encounter a trail junction—stick to the right to go straight and stay on the Awa’awapuhi trail.

After another 0.3 mile on Awa’awapuhi Trail, the trail ends at a steep cliff and a viewpoint with a bench to sit on and enjoy the views (or wait for the clouds to clear up and allow you to enjoy the views).

What you’ll see is the eroded flank of a long-gone volcano, the deep cuts created by flowing and falling water. Kaua’i was born as a shield volcano some 5 million years ago in the same place where the Lōʻihi seamount is slowly growing nowadays, still hidden about a kilometer under the waves of the Pacific Ocean about 30 kilometers off the coast of the Big Island. Kaua’i likely last erupted in the Pleistocene, between 2.58 million and 11.7 thousand years ago. Since then, on its northwest-bound journey, the black lavas had turned into fertile earth and vegetation covered the once inhospitable land. One day, Kaua’i will disappear under the waves.

When you’ve enjoyed the views (if clouds allowed), simply retrace your steps, following the trail back up the ancient volcano.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Shaded. No crowds. Beautiful vistas. Biodiversity.

Cons

Hike back is all uphill. Can get quite muddy. Clouds can often obscure the views.

Trailhead Elevation

4,053.00 ft (1,235.35 m)

Highest point

4,117.00 ft (1,254.86 m)

Features

Big vistas
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

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