Alakai Swamp Trail (Kauai)

View from Pihea Trail

View from Pihea Trail

Date: 04/06/2015

Location: Koke’e State Park, Kauai
Distance: 8 miles RT
Elevation:? 400ft

Pihea Trailhead next to Kalalau Lookout

Pihea Trailhead next to Kalalau Lookout

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.
Alakai Swamp Trail (4)

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.

After drudging through more jungle, we arrived the swamp at about 2.75 mile mark. The trail is now exposed, planked and flat.
Alakai Swamp Trail (9)Alakai Swamp Trail (18)

At 4 mile, trail abruptly concluded with a view of Hanalei Bay.

View Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay

Alakai Swamp Trail (13)

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.


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