When it comes to Kauai hiking, the Alakai Swamp trail is one of our island’s enchanting jewels. You’ll have to get an early start from your Kauai vacation rental for this 8 mile hike. Come prepared for weather and bring your own water and lunch. If the weather is right-even a little mist and clouds is exciting-you will be in for one of the most unforgettable adventures of your life!
After your hike, you’ll be glad that most of our Kauai vacation rentals have a washer and dryer. If there’s been any rain before you go, prepare for mud on the trail and on your clothes. On the other hand, you’ll wear our Kauai red dirt as a souvenir!
Overview. The Alakai Wilderness Preserve, popularly known as Alakai Swamp, is a montane wet forest accessible through Koke`e State Park. Although the preserve is home to alpine bogs, it is not a true swamp. It’s located on a plateau near Mt. Waialeale, one of the wettest spots on Earth.
Why You Should Go.The view at the end will make you feel like being on top of the world. Kilohana lookout, a 4,000-foot-elevation vertical perch, has amazing views into Wainiha Valley. You can see all the way to Hanalei Bay and Kilauea Lighthouse and at times several waterfalls are visible from the lookout. The ancient Hawaiians climbed down to the valley floor from here when they couldn’t read the North Shore by water. It’s a captivating place to lunch, rest and reflect.
Begin your hike on the Pihea Trail. You’ll find the trailhead just off the Pu`u o Kila lookout at the end of Waimea Canyon Road. It can be rugged, muddy and slippery. Experienced hikers with good shoes should have little difficulty.
Alakai Swap trailhead starts 2 miles later. The scenery changes to rainforest as you head into Alakai Swamp, the world’s highest rainforest and swampland fed by the abundant rainfall on Mount Waialeale’s slopes. The trail, often shrouded in mist and clouds, offers excellent glimpses of native plants and birds as it winds through rain forest and bogs on the way to Kilohana lookout.
Boardwalks have enhanced the trail. Now hikers do not have to trudge through the mud to reach the incredible Kilohana lookout at the end of the journey. Even so, the trail and boardwalk can be wet, slippery and very muddy so use caution and be sure to wear appropriate clothing.
Advisory. Inexperienced hikers should not attempt this Kauai trail in rain or if cloud cover limits visibility. There are a lot of steep ups and downs. I recommend that you be in good physical condition for this rewarding hike.
Are you planning to hike the Alakai Swamp Trail? If you have any questions, leave them for Anne and she’ll respond on this post. You can also read Anne’s Kauai Activity tips for Waimea Canyon.