Alakai Swamp Trail

Suitable for:
Active traveller, nature lover, couples
Insider tip or tourist spot?
Hardly known and not much going on
Insider Tip
Time needed: 1-2 hours
5 hours
Optimal arrival time:
08:30 o' clock
Suitable for:
Active traveller, nature lover, couples
Insider tip or tourist spot?
Hardly known and not much going on
Insider Tip
Time needed: 1-2 hours
5 hours
Optimal arrival time:
08:30 o' clock

Profile of the hike

Distance total
12,57 Kilometer
Distance uphill
4,82 Kilometer
Distance downhill
4,80 Kilometer
Altitude meters uphill
414 Meter
Altitude meters downhill
- 414 Meter

Alakai Swamp Trail - description

One of the most impressive hikes in all of Hawaii is definitely the Alakai Swamp Trail. With 12 km and 400 meters of altitude, it is easy to do. However, you should bring enough time, because the path over muddy slopes often takes time. It is located near the rainiest point on earth, Mount Waialeale. There it rains 335 days a year. So you have to be lucky to be able to walk the trail in the sun.

After a detour to Kalalau Lookout, tackle the Pihea Trail high above the island. The parking lot is at the end of Kokee Road, which leads from Waimea Canyon State Park into Kokee State Park. The trail, which is extremely slippery and muddy in places, leads us to the Alakai Swamp Trail at an elevation of about 1300 feet. The Alakai Swamp Trail leads through a huge high moor. Wooden footbridges prevent the trail from sinking into the swampy ground.

First check at the Kokee Museum if you can hike the Alakai Swamp Trail that day, because it is sometimes too muddy due to rain. Then drive to Kalalau Lookout, where you can park the car. And then: first treat yourself to the spectacular view of the Kalalau Valley.

Tip: If visibility is poor, it's worth waiting a quarter or half hour, as the clouds often clear away to reveal views of Kalalau Valley.

The path leads through wonderful small forests always uphill and downhill, sometimes there are large natural steps to overcome, sometimes you go on steel stairs. Pay attention to the signposts at forks in the road, as other paths cross from time to time. Of course you can also make side trips, e.g. along the Pihea Trail, if you have enough time and strength. Your destination is Kilohana Lookout.

The further you hike, the more marshy the area becomes. So you walk over wooden planks first in the forest, which later thins out. Next to the path start puddles and finally small lakes and ponds - you are in the Alakai swamp, which seems far from our "real life" like a scene from a fantasy film. At the very end there is a bench at Kilohana Lookout. Unfortunately, normally you can't see anything there, except fog. On a clear day the view is fantastic. You can see the green ridges of the mountains and over the entire North Shore to Hanalei.

What we say

This tour is certainly one of the most beautiful hikes in Hawaii. However, the clothes belong in the washing machine afterwards, so muddy is the trail. On the way there are a lot of endemic plants to discover. Biologists are often here for research purposes. I walked it several times, the lonely nature experience and the eerie atmosphere of the swamp is unique.
Our checklist & tips:
  • Enough liquid (at least 2-3 liters)
  • Rain jacket and old clothes. It gets very muddy.
  • Sturdy footwear (preferably proper mountain boots with a solid sole)
  • Possibly hiking poles

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Map and contact data

Puu O Kila Lookout, State Hwy, Hanapepe, HI 96716
Longitude: -159.63161238539323
Latitude: 22.147253570929145

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