Location: Koke’e State Park, Kauai
Distance: 8 miles RT
This trail traverses through one of the wettest spots on earth (Mt. Wai’ale’ale) where mist and clouds reigns but not on this sunny day. I couldn’t find much detail about this trail besides being highly recommended in various forums. We took the Pihea Trail approach which starts right at Kalalau LO and it was an auspicious start – first mile of Pihea meander through a ridge with the splendid Na Poli coast to the West and lush tropical forest to the East.
The pleasant ridge trail quickly degenerated into a rocky, root stumped obstacle course at the end of mile one, and turned East into the jungle.
At about 1.8 mile from Pihea TH, a junction with Alakai Swamp trail was reached but no indication was given to turning right or left onto the Swamp trail. My educated guess to turn left (North) proved correct. Now on Alakai Swamp trail, it began a rapid staircase descend to a stream at 2 mile mark, the only water source on this sunny April day.
At 4 mile, trail abruptly concluded with a view of Hanalei Bay.
Despite lack of significant elevation, this is a deceivingly demanding trail with its full compliment of mud, rocks, roots, pot-holes and mosquitoes. The pay-off vista, while stunning, was only marginally better the Na Poli coast view at beginning of the trail. It’s a trail that I’d happily saunter on if I live or frequent the island, but as an infrequent tourist, better trails abound elsewhere on Kauai.