I enjoyed a very short trip to Kauai at the end of last week. One of the adventures I went on with my husband, Ron, was a short hike on the Pihea Trail in Koke’e State Park.
If you’ve visited Kauai, you’ve almost certainly been to Koke’e. I’ll bet the photo below looks familiar…this is a view into Kalalau Valley — it’s a standard stop for island visitors.
Nearly everyone who visits walks out along the eroded ridge that is the back wall of Kalalau Valley. That is the start of Pihea Trail, which continues along the ridge to a peak on the opposite side of the valley. It’s not very far — maybe 1.5 to two miles? — but there is some interesting terrain along the way. It’s good to remember, this is called a rainforest for a reason.
Near the beginning of the trail, all looks benign. Here we see the path wending past uluhe fern and into a stand of ohia trees:
There are wonderful views into the highlands:
The native forest here is largely intact, with only a few introduced species:
Beneath the canopy, nearly everything is covered in lush moss:
But it is a rainforest, and farther along the trail there is some mud to contend with. Actually, there is a lot of mud. What typically happens is that water will collect in the trail, hikers will tread through it creating a mucky mess. Later hikers will go wide, skirting the muck…and before long the trail has become a wide, gooey bog.
Besides the mud, there has been a bit of erosion on the steeper parts of this trail:
And it gets worse:
Even on relatively level terrain, there has been significant erosion. This US Coast and Geodetic Survey marker was put into place in 1927. The peak has gotten a bit shorter since then.
Despite the mud and the poor trail condition, the scenery was gorgeous and well worth the effort, especially since Ron cleaned my boots for me.
There are many trails in the Koke’e Area, and you could certainly plan a more extensive hike than what we did — just be prepared to get wet and dirty! Here’s a link to a trail map provided by Hawaii State Parks.