Some of the best views in Kauai
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.
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.