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Pets allowed
Yes
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
Loop
Distance
6.00 mi (9.66 km)
Please respect the outdoors and leave no trace. One tip how to dispose of waste properly: Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products. For more information, visit https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles

​Lonomea is a permitted backcountry campsite for up to eight individuals. It is located deep within the Waimea Canyon at the end of the Koaie Canyon Trail in the Na Pali-Kona Forest Reserve. There are a couple of routes to get to Lonomea, but the shortest route is to take the Kukui Trail down to the Waimea stream where it connects with the Koaie Canyon Trail. As you traverse down to the Waimea stream, dropping 2,000 feet in 2 miles, spectacular views abound. Along the Koaie Canyon Trail are three other campsites that can be obtained by permit, and some backpackers like to camp at the earlier campsites and do a day-hike to Lonomea. Lonomea can also be done as a 12-mile "okole buster" day-hike. 

While the Kukui Trail offers spectacular views, the Koaie Canyon Trail rewards hikers with a dense forest and historical ruins from when the valley was once settled. Coffee, guava and orange trees abound, along with native trees such as the kukui and lonomea tree. Aside from the overhead helicopters that frequent the canyon, you most likely will not pass another hiker once you pass Wiliwili campsite at the base of the Kukui Trail. Beyond Wiliwili, the trail becomes overgrown for a short half-mile section. Long pants and sleeves are a wise choice for this section of the trail.

Lonomea is a very playful river spot with deep swimming holes, cliff jumps, two waterfalls and numerous rock slides. What makes it such a spectacular campsite is how much fun you can have once you are there. Tubing is a popular activity in this section of the river, so much so that the shelter often has inflatable tubes left behind from previous hikers and hunters (other things are sometimes left behind, too, unfortunately). If you are staying for more than one night, some hikers enjoy a day trip (four to seven hours) upstream to an 800-foot unmarked waterfall. Mosquitos can be brutal in the dense forest, so be prepared to spend hours on the flat, smooth rocks adjacent to the campground, which tend to be bug-free and perfect for setting up a camp kitchen, too.

Note: Rain, even in short spurts common on Kauai, can lead to a dramatic rise in river height and currents. Be prepared in wet weather to stay overnight if necessary. Additionally, Kauai is a locals-only culture. For vehicles in particular, locals target those owned by visitors, and the difference is typically obvious. If you plan to stay overnight, avoid break-ins and theft by carrying what you need and leaving everything else in a safe place.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Canyon views. Deep swimming holes. Secluded. Tubing water slides.

Cons

Mosquitos. Hunting remains. Flash floods. Long exposed uphill hike.

Trailhead Elevation

2,300.00 ft (701.04 m)

Net Elevation Gain

1,500.00 ft (457.20 m)

Address

State Hwy 550
Waimea, HI 96796
United States

Features

Backcountry camping
Historically significant
Waterfalls
Bird watching
Wildlife
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Shelters
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Horseback

Location

Field Guide

Comments

Great update, Julie, thanks so much. The guide is updated with your additions. I'm sorry to hear about the break-in—Kauai is notorious for those at trailheads, where visitors are often targeted—but an extra night on the trail isn't always a bad thing ;). Glad you were prepared.
12.29.18
I recently completed this hike and have 3 other comments to add. 1. The trail is pretty overgrown for a decent section of the trail, roughly a half mile stretch. This occurs about a mile after passing the Wiliwili campsite if you are heading toward Lonomea. The overgrown area had some burrs, so long pants/sleeves will help. 2. The river raised significantly after pouring rain for about 20 minutes, therefore making it dangerous to cross the river. We were camping at Wiliwili and actually couldn't get back to our campsite because we had already crossed the river by the time it rained. It was beautiful and sunny when we left the campsite to do the day hike to Lonomea, but very typically the weather turned bad quickly and we had to wait overnight for the water levels to return to a level safe for crossing. Luckily we had our hammocks to sleep in, extra food and a water filter! Go prepared if you are going to cross the river. 3. Someone broke into our car while parked on Kokee road for 2 nights. Other cars also had broken windows. The police said this has happened before. Dont leave anything valuable in the car! Despite these 3 lessons learned, it is a gorgeous, rewarding hike and we had the canyon to ourselves. We had a great time!! We never actually found the Lonomea waterfall area either, but the hike was still gorgeous with various native trees, we spotted some wild pigs, of course some chickens kept us company, and the mosquitos were not that bad.
The steep part into the canyon was definitely a challenge!
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