This is an almost 11.5 mile loop. It basically has four sections, Nualolo trail, Nualolo Cliffs trail, Awaawapuhi trail and a section on highway 550 if you don't have multiple vehicles.
There are a few ways you could tackle this loop. We started out at the Nualolo trail head. You could also start at the Awaawapuhi trail head and do the reverse or do the road section at the beginning. If you are starting out early like we did 6:30AM you might consider parking at the Awaawapuhi trail head and hiking down the road to the Nualolo trail head and getting that out of the way early. It isn't the safest during midday when we did it and by the time you are off the trail you will probably be ready just to be at your car!
Starting out it is an ascent up, the guide book we read stated that the it was a descent so we were surprised to see this right off. It isn't that much but more that we expected. Once you get to the top of that you definitely start descending into the forest. It is probably forest for the first 1.5 miles at least. There are markers on the trail that tell you the distance you have hiked. They seem to have stopped at some point on the trail though.
After you get beyond the tree line the descent really picks up. There are a few places where it is fairly steep and you are holding on to roots of the shrubs just for that extra bit of stability. The loose dirt/rocks beneath your feet are encouraging your hands to reach out and grab those roots. I read in the guide book we had that it was probably easier to climb out on the Awaawapuhi side, I would absolutely agree with that!
Once you get to the bottom and follow the trail a little further you come to a junction point and sign. The end of the Nualolo trail is at the Lolo Vista. Venturing out there you have to hike on some fairly narrow trail with a pretty good drop off both sides.
Going back off the peninsula of the Lolo Vista we head back to the junction point. At the junction point is where you decide if you want to make this a loop and head down the Cliffs trail or if you want to just climb back up the Nualolo trail. We chose the loop.
Well, we started down the Cliffs trail. Soon we came to a sign that cautioned of narrow and washed out trail ahead. Check that out! Yeah it was pretty narrow but not that bad. I wouldn't however recommend bring dogs on this trail.
This trail is pretty flat and for the most part follows the edge of that valley. There is a small waterfall if you are there in the wet season unfortunately it was dry for us. It looks like there is a small pool that you could get in and cool off. There is also a very grassy section, it's like a corn maze. trails going every which way and you want to be careful too because the edge of the cliff isn't too far. Fortunately there were carnes that others had left so we kind of followed that out of that section. There is also a picnic area down there you could have a snack or just sit.
As the sign stated leaving the Nualolo trail about 2 mile later we ran into the Awaawapuhi trail. From this junction we headed left to the lookout area. Very nice, I liked the the Lolo Vista better but this has very nice views as well. We had a nice rest and still had most of our water at this point. Time to pay your dues for the spectacular views. This is a beautiful trail but not an easy trek out. It is pretty steep in places and for long stretches at a time.
We made it to the top, which you are actually at a higher altitude going back up this trail that the other, but you're not done yet. You still have a mile and a half back to the car down the road.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
This is a moderately difficult hike.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.