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Pihea Trail, HI

no permit
54 5 0
Guide 5 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List HI > Kauai
4.5 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 1.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,227 feet
Elevation Gain -193 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 2.22
Interest Peak
Backpack TBD
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
18  2017-12-16 ddgrunning
15  2013-01-16 leonesiegel
21  2011-08-03 slegal
Author slegal
author avatar Guides 74
Routes 101
Photos 2,962
Trips 56 map ( 351 miles )
Age 57 Male Gender
Location Thousand Oaks, CA
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:27am - 6:36pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Some of the best views in Kauai
by slegal

Note: The one way distance listed on the hike description is just to the junction with the Alakai Swamp Trail and not all of the way to Mohihi Road. The total one way mileage to Mohihi Road is approximately 3.4 miles.

If you've ever seen pictures of Kauai, such as those that would appear in a calendar, then you've probably seen a photo shot from the Pihea Trail. The Pihea Trail crosses a ridgeline above the Na Pali Coast. This is one of the most scenic places on the island and The Kalalau Valley opens up below the trail and provides fantastic views of the ocean below and the sheer walls on either side of the valley.

The trail heads northeast and downhill along the ridgeline that bridges the two ridgelines that line the north and south walls of Kalalau Valley. At about the low point of the ridgeline you will be roughly half way between the trailhead and Pihea Vista, the pointed peak that marks the end of the north ridgeline above the Kalalau Valley. The half way point is an excellent view point that provides a great spot to take photos.

Shortly after passing this midpoint, you will likely encounter lots of mud. You're just 10 mile northwest of the wettest place on earth, Mt. Wai'Ale'Ale, so needless to say, the Pihea Trail gets more than its fair share of rain. Therefore, it's worth stating that you may not want to take your favorite pair of hiking boots on this trip.

After passing the muddiest parts of the low spot on the ridgeline, you are greeted by a steep, slippery climb that heads up to Pihea Vista. The trail levels out briefly at a trail junction. To the left, the trail heads up to Pihea Vista. To the right the trail heads down a very steep, slippery slope toward the Alakai Swamp Trail. I highly recommend that you take the short, steep and slippery trip up to Pihea Vista because the views are astounding.

After trekking up to Pihea Vista, head down the other fork in the trail toward the Alakai Swamp Trail. After a short, slippery descent down a muddy slope the trail becomes a boardwalk, a welcome relief from the muddy trail. Although you no longer have a view of the Na Pali Coast, this section of the Pihea Trail is very scenic, not because of far off vistas, but because of the lush green vegetation all around the trail.

The Pihea Trail reaches a junction with the Alakai Swamp trail. If you head left on the Alakai Swamp Trail you will eventually reach the dead end of the trail, which offers incredible views of the north coast of Kauai and the town of Princeville. After passing the junction with the Alakai Swamp Trail, the Pihea Trail continues for several miles until reaching Mohihi Road, which is a dirt road. Mohihi Road will take you back to Highway 550 at the Koke'e State Park Headquarters. If you didn't shuttle between the two trailheads, you may not want to take this route as it keeps you quite far from the first trailhead.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2012-03-05 slegal

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Pihea Trail
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This was an easy first hike in Kaua'i for my kids and I.

    My first note here is to read the other trip logs. They've mostly said it all. If you can, get to the trailhead early as the parking lot quickly fills with cars. It took us >one hour to drive here from the Poipu/Koloa area.

    My second note is that the trail does NOT start to the right of the sign marking the Pihea Vista Trail. That's a false trail that many appear to have taken, including us! But, after a few minutes of climbing down the hill and coming to a dead end, it was fairly obvious. :)

    Once on the right path - the broad, red clay, promenade - we had a great, warm, humid hike.

    My kids (7 & 9) LOVED this hike, which means I also loved it. The hike itself is relatively easy. For kids, there are lots of little distractions that will keep them going. For example, my kids loved climbing the occasional tree or vine. The further you go on this trail, towards Pihea Vista, the more difficult the trail becomes - slick, wet clay; handholds; maybe puddles. We all got a little dirty on this hike and my kids really loved the last few muddy scrambles up to the Vista.

    We were all hot, sweaty, muddy and happy by the time that we got back to the car.

    based on our New Zealand knowledge, we saw Pohutukawa in bloom, Metrosideros spp.
    Pihea Trail
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Now THIS was the mud-slog hike and perhaps the most challenging 3 mile hike I can remember. Nearly every step, it seemed, was an adventure due to vast mud bogs and climbing with mud caked shoes, quite the kick! We thought it was really cool that we started this hike in the clouds and continued in this fashion for most of the the way up to the Point until we realized that this completely obscured our views of the Kalalau Valley below! Ugh! Slow going, really slow, thirty minute miles, but all with good caution. An elderly gent with an British accent hiked with us a while, smartly planting his poles, singing "mud, glorious mud!" and exhorting us on to "plant the flag" at the Point. Well the point of this experience was to get the views, those fantastic views, would the sun cooperate? As we finally reached Pihea Point lo and behold by magic the clouds parted and we were treated to those awesome views! Fantastic. All told we only fell once each on this crazy day, no harm done but to our pride. Great hike.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    To get to the Pihea Trail from Waimea, take state highway 550 north along the western rim of Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Take the road all the way to the end. There is a parking lot there and that is where the trailhead is located.
    page created by slegal on Mar 04 2012 11:59 pm
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