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“One of the Earth's great places” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Koke'e State Park

Koke'e State Park
Kokee Rd, Hwy 550, Kekaha, Kauai, HI 96796
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Top Rated
and up
Waimea Canyon Bicycle Downhill
Ranked #3 of 9 things to do in Kekaha
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Activities: Hiking, Viewing wildlife, Viewing foliage, Birdwatching
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Attraction details
Owner description: A beautiful state park encompassing 4345 acres and containing 45 miles of scenic trails.
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“One of the Earth's great places”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 23, 2012

Incredible variety of microclimates, plants and birds. Not to be missed when you visit Kauai.
Trails range from easy to hard to match your hiking ability.

Visited November 2012
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101 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Vernon Hills, Illinois
Senior Contributor
46 reviews 46 reviews
23 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
“Hikes in this park are great- so are the viewpoints of Na Pali coast”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 20, 2012

We did the awa awa puhi trail that is 6.5 miles round trip. Rating is strenuous but it was easy by far than the Hanakapi'ai falls on the north side. Our weather was best we could hope for - no rain, nice breeze and not too hot. We also got to see wai'ale'ale mountain top - wettest point on earth- from the furthest viewpoint in the park.

Visited November 2012
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Santa Clara, California
17 reviews 17 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Alakai Swamp Trail - the closest thing to circumnavigating Kauai on foot”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 8, 2012

This has become one of our favorite hikes on Kauai. It covers a lot of distance, but is faster than you think.

As you may know, there is no road that completely circles Kauai...the roads end at Ha'ena on the North Shore and from the South Shore, the road ends at the Kalalau Valley Lookout after Koke'e State Park. The straight distance between the two ends is something like 6 miles, yet cannot be completed by road due to the rugged valleys. Long ago, an attempt was made long ago to complete the road via the higher swamp areas, but the swamp won the upper hand, causing some of the bulldozing equipment to be abandoned up there.

The hike has various starting points depending on what type of vehicle you have and how much time you want to spend. The 'reward' at the end of the hike is a view of Hanalei/Princeville...if you are not fogged in. I could be wrong, but I read that if the fog is rolling in from the sea, you should be able to wait it out and your view will clear up. If the fog is rolling out to sea, it might not clear up at all for the rest of the day. The Kauai Ultimate guide can give you good advice on this topic.

Starting points:
Kalalau Lookout #2:
If you have a normal rent-a-car, your most logical starting point will be the 2nd Kalalau Valley lookout parking lot. Expect some muddy trails and definitely use a walking stick or two. This route may involve a little hand-on-trail climbing, but nothing technically difficult as long as you have good hiking shoes. I really enjoy this route because of the breathtaking ridgetop trails that are seen from the lookout points. These trails give you a very unique view of the valley with the ocean in the background. The downside of this route is that it is 45 minutes longer than the alternative.

Koke'e Camp Grounds:
If you have a 4WD, you can take the shorter version of this trip by basically bypassing the ridgetrail portion of the Kalalau Lookout point trailhead. Yes, you will miss the neat ridgetop views, but you will get a unique view of the Waimea Canyon not seen by most tourists, complete with a clean and quiet picnic ground that will likely be uninhabited. To get here, travel down Koke'e Road past the visitor center. When you pass a road on the left called Muhihi Road, there will be another road on the right side that may be unmarked. There will be an immediate fork...so take the left fork. The unpaved road will start to climb and narrow...take it all the way to the picnic area with the Waimea Canyon view. You can either park here (where I believe a portable toilet exists), or drive a little farther towards the Pihea trailhead, where I did see a few cars parked one time. Parking at the trailhead will probably save you 7 minutes of hiking versus parking at the picnic area. The Pihea trail will take you along some interesting ridgetops, but not as exciting as the coastal ridgetops.

Both starting points will intersect at some point, and your hiking will vary between planked walkways and stairs. This is the portion of the hike that goes pretty fast because you are not dealing with unlevel ground...but watch out for the occasional plank that needs maintenance. In both times that we did this hike, the temperature started from warm at the trailhead, to cool towards the end. There were surprisingly no issues with bugs/mosquitos, although we did have some repellant on.

As others have noted, the world up by the swamp is very surreal and peaceful...you are at the highest point on the island, the source of many waterfalls just outside the 'wettest spot on earth'. One should prepare for rain, but the trails are reasonably maintained and populated with other hikers.

The 'reward' view at the end is more interesting than spectacular, but even if you get fogged in and can't see the view, the hike itself is very enjoyable. Plan to start early in the morning and be done by early afternoon if you include a break for lunch.

Visited September 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nashville, TN
Top Contributor
599 reviews 599 reviews
379 attraction reviews
Reviews in 222 cities Reviews in 222 cities
581 helpful votes 581 helpful votes
“Two Great Lookouts, Lots of Trails”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 23, 2012

We spent a morning at Koke'e State Park but could easily have spent the entire day if it hadn't been for the rain. The only negative is what makes it so beautiful -- it's rain forest location means lush vegetation. We stopped at both lookouts -- Kalalau and Pu'u o Kila -- beautiful before the mist came rolling in to obscure the view. We grabbed our rain gear and set out on the Pihea Trail hoping for more good views. When we reached the point that we could no longer enjoy the hike (and observed a couple younger than us having trouble negotiating the muddy trail), we decided that it was time to retreat. If you can catch a better day, go for it -- lots of trails to choose. Even if the weather is not ideal, drive up to the lookouts to catch a glimpse of the Napali coast -- it's amazing! After a morning at Koke'e, drive back down the road to see the fabulous afternoon vistas in Waimea Canyon.

Visited May 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lihue, Hawaii
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
17 attraction reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“Wait, just wait a little more,,,,”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 3, 2012

yes the clouds will move on. one must learn patience. stop at the museum for maps and dont forget WATER if your hiking Do not drink out of our streams, Leptobacillus from wild pigs goats and deer.

Visited July 2012
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