Hiking the Kuilau Trail | Kauai | August 2018
Initially we didn’t have any plans for our last few hours on Kauai. We thought we’d drive up as far as we could on the North shore. However, when traffic proved to be much heavier than expected, we decided to forgo that plan and instead just turned onto a random road heading West. The road took us out of town, into quiet neighborhoods and through a series of narrow twists and turns. When we came upon a construction zone, we took the detour and ended up on Kuamo’o Road, which we had driven on briefly to visit Opa’eaka Falls on our first morning. We continued heading West until we came to a trailhead that Curtis had heard of while looking for letterboxes. It was called Kuilau Ridge Trail, found near the Keahua Arboretum. We parked in a pull-off next to a river and one lane bridge and walked back to the trailhead.
I had heard nothing of this trail, and while it was much like the lush green hikes on Oahu, it was so interesting seeing new perspectives on this island. I was struck with the same feeling as hiking Nounou Mountain, when I looked out at other mountain ranges and realized I knew so little about them. All that we knew about central Kauai was about the high peaks in the center of the island, and that hiking there would require a multi-day backpacking trip along miles of unimproved ‘trails’ through an enormous swamp (it’s not the rainiest place on earth without consequences). This trail gave great vistas of the ridges and valleys that make up the center of the island. It also gave views of many of the other minor ridges to the North and South and even a couple glimpses of Nounou and the ocean to the East. It all just reminded us of how much more there is to see. I mean, we couldn’t possibly see the entire island in just 3 days, but we gave it our best try!
We hiked about 4 miles round-trip, ending our hike up in a small clearing with a pavilion and picnic tables, and Curtis was able to find all 5 letterboxes. That certainly made the Kuilau Trail extra exciting — it had been a long time since we had found that many boxes in a day, let alone a single trail! Besides that, the entire hike was very pleasant. The path gradually gained elevation and was clear and wide with large white Albizia lining the trail. No wonder they filmed most of Jurassic Park out here. (You can actually hike to several of the filming locations from where we parked, although what sets and props that were left were wiped out by Hurricane Iniki as the filming was wrapping up).
So glad we have this picture so that we’ll never forget about the time Curtis had a mustache…hahaha
According to AllTrails, the path continues a while further eventually reaching one of the many ridges coming off the central peaks, but we were content with what we were able to hike that afternoon. This hike was easy, quiet, and despite not boasting of the dramatic views that the other hikes had on the island, we still loved it just as much as the others. It was the perfect way to wrap up our time on Kauai. If you’re looking for a less popular hike that shows off the gorgeous flora of the island, the Kuilau Trail is the perfect choice.