Kuilau Ridge Trail

Suitable for:
Insider tip or tourist spot?
Rather unknown and little going on
Insider Tip
Time needed: 1-2 hours
3 hours
Optimal arrival time:
08:30 o' clock
Suitable for:
Insider tip or tourist spot?
Rather unknown and little going on
Insider Tip
Time needed: 1-2 hours
3 hours
Optimal arrival time:
08:30 o' clock

Profile of the hike

Distance total
8,06 Kilometer
Distance uphill
3,38 Kilometer
Distance downhill
3,34 Kilometer
Altitude meters uphill
285 Meter
Altitude meters downhill
- 282 Meter

Kuilau Ridge Trail - Description

In Wailua, on the east side of the island, turn left onto Kuamo'o Rd. just after the bridge over the Wailua River. After 6.6 miles, the Kuilau Ridge Trail is on the right, starting at a gate. A few parking spaces are available there. If these are occupied, there are more at the Keahua Arboretum, which is about 100 yards down the road on the left.

The Kuilau Ridge Trail is a very little traveled trail, where you can always see the "Sleeping Giant", a rock formation, and with a little luck, if the clouds clear for a short time, you can also see Mt. Waialeale, the rainiest point on earth.

Waialeale is a shield volcano and the second highest mountain on the island after Kawaikini. The name means "splashing" or "overflowing water" in the Hawaiian language.

The summit of 1569-meter Waialeale is obscured by clouds for most of the year. Its steady, humid northeast winds meet the mountain's steep northeast flank, whose slopes have an average gradient of over 110 %. This creates upslope winds, with the abundant water raining off as what is known as "upslope rain." This is how the Wailua River was formed, which also flows into Wailua Falls.

Because this weather is very stable, it rains more than 300 days a year, with large amounts of rainfall of 12,000 mm constantly falling on a very small area. This makes the northeast flank of Waialeale one of the rainiest places on earth, and the volcano is dotted with mysterious waterfalls.

The 8km trail, with just under 300 meters of elevation gain, is classified as easy and can be done by anyone. It leads partly through eucalyptus forests alternating with guava, hala and ohia lehua trees. After 1.75 miles, you come to a picnic area located in a beautiful meadow with fantastic views of the Sleeping Giant. Shortly after, the Kuilau Ridge Trail ends in front of a wooden bridge.

Here you can still opt for the subsequent Moalepe Trail (1.25 miles to the parking lot or 2.75 miles to Olohena Rd.) or walk back the same way. It can definitely get wet on this trail.

What we say

I had the great fortune to experience this hike in the sunshine. Once again you get here insights into the fabulous and untouched nature of Kauai. You can almost see the dinos from "Jurassic Park" in front of you. In the distance you can see the bombastic mountain range of Waialeale, with a little luck (which I had), even with a rainbow above.
Our checklist & tips:
  • Bring rain gear
  • Sturdy shoes, it could be muddy
  • Pack a picnic and enough liquid.

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Map and contact data

State Hwy 580, Kapaa, HI 96746
Longitude: -159.416388342158
Latitude: 22.07140562684835

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