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“Great Views and Excellent Hiking Trails”
Review of Koke'e State Park

Koke'e State Park
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Waimea Canyon Bicycle Downhill
Ranked #4 of 12 things to do in Kekaha
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: A beautiful state park encompassing 4345 acres and containing 45 miles of scenic trails.
Midlothian, Texas
Level 4 Contributor
45 reviews
33 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Great Views and Excellent Hiking Trails”
Reviewed February 9, 2013

Very beautiful overlooks and dramatic cliffs with awesome views of the ocean and coastline.....trails are hard but very rewarding...would recommend a four wheel drive to best get to the trailheads......if you do, your reward awaits!!

Visited February 2013
Thank Brent H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Carnation, Washington, United States
Level 4 Contributor
34 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Incredible Hiking”
Reviewed February 3, 2013

There are a lot of hikes in the Koke'e State Park, and I've only done a few, so this review will focus on the hike from the end of the road to the Kilohana Lookout.

I started at the Pu'u o Kila Lookout which by itself has great views down into the Kalalau Valley, and doesn't require any hiking to get to (just a short walk up a paved path from the parking lot). The Pihea Trail starts from the viewpoint and continues to the east along the ridgeline. This part of the trail can be extremely slippery when wet (which is most of the time), and when it is really raining (which is much of the time) is more of a creek full of miniature muddy waterfalls than a trail. On this trip, however (late January 2013), it was dry and the footing was fine. Even dry this is definitely a hike, not a walk. After about a mile there is a short (but quite steep - there are ropes to help you get up/down) side trail to the Pihea Vista. There is another amazing view down into the Kalalau Valley every 100 feet or so along the Pihea Trail, so if you're prone to gazing in awe at amazing landscapes (and it's not completely socked in) it may take quite awhile to do this part. Speaking of socked in, everything I've read says that you need to get there early in the morning or all you'll see are clouds. I've been up there at least a half a dozen times and only once did I have to wait more than 10 minutes before there was a break in the clouds big enough to see down into the valley and out to the ocean. I guess I'm just lucky. Even when it is cloudy the views are pretty cool - the clouds boil up over the ridge and make all kinds of intricate patterns and motions as they drop over the other side.

After returning from the Pihea Vista spur trail, I continued on the Pihea Trail until it intersects with the Alaka'i Swamp Trail in about a mile. That portion of the Pihea Trail is much different than the first mile - it is mostly boardwalk through trees. When I think boardwalk I envision a fairly flat trail, though, and this is not flat. Much of the "boardwalk" is actually stairs, so if you have weak knees, maybe try a different trail. Actually, if you have weak knees you probably won't make it this far, so never mind...

It's about another two miles from the intersection to the Kilohana Lookout. A good portion of that is boardwalk (covered in wire mesh, which is torn up / off in many places, so easy to trip on when you're trying to take in all the amazing scenery). The first mile is pretty hilly, including one section about a quarter mile long down to a creek which is all stairs - definitely a good workout both ways. The last mile or so is pretty flat, though, as it winds across the Alaka'i Swamp. The entire trail is amazing, which incredible smells and sights, and a ton of variety.

If the weather is clearish you can see the North Shore - Ha'ena, Hanalei, Princeville, and as far as Kilauea from the Kilohana Lookout. I was fortunate and had amazing weather: sunny part of the time, high overcast part of the time, probably high 60s, nice breeze - impossible to be better. The Alaka'i Swamp Trail has an amazing variety of terrain and vegetation, some of which I've never seen anything like elsewhere (probably because it traverses the highest swamp in the world). Overall the hike is roughly 8 miles roundtrip from the Pu'u o Kila Lookout to the Kilohana Lookout and back, much of which is either pretty steep uphill or downhill. My GPS said I did about half a mile of vertical (2775 feet, to be exact) over the 8.2 miles I hiked.

I did the hike in Crocs (I like to let my feet flex and breathe, but the wire on the boardwalk is too rough for me to go barefoot), but most people that I saw had hiking shoes and a fair number had hiking poles, as well. There were a few on the first section of the Pihea Trail with flipflops, but I doubt they went very far. I'd want more protection on the boardwalk portions than that - I tripped on the wire multiple times, and that would have been very painful without toe covering.

Overall, this is my favorite hike on Kauai (but I haven't done the Kalalau Trail yet). Cool terrain, amazing views, relatively cool temperatures due to the altitude, lots of variety, not too many people...

Visited January 2013
Thank Kevin F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington, DC
Level 6 Contributor
217 reviews
46 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 129 helpful votes
“Beautiful views into the Na Pali coast”
Reviewed January 26, 2013

This is a great thing to do in concert with a visit to the Waimea Canyon State Park; if you drive past the Waimea Canyon lookouts and go to the end of the road (literally the end of it), you'll get some amazing views from two different lookouts. The lookout at the end of the road features a walking path that you can wander down a little ways to get some slightly different views, but there are no guardrails, and the clay soil can get VERY slippery, so be careful!

A couple useful tips:

1. The road up is very winding, so if you get carsick easily be prepared! Also, there are no gas stations once you leave the village of Waimea on the coast, and there is only one place to eat, so plan accordingly.

2. There is a gift shop/museum (free) next to the only place to eat, but you'd be hard pressed to spend more than 15-20 minutes in it.

3. The road gets REALLY narrow as you get towards the end, so if you've got a big rental car, be cautious.

Visited January 2013
Thank Tuhughes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Half Moon Bay, California
Level 6 Contributor
342 reviews
37 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 265 helpful votes
“"Strenuous" Means "Strenuous"”
Reviewed January 24, 2013

This is a beautiful place. No doubt about it. Great vistas. But the trails are tough. They can be deeply rutted, steep, muddy and slick due to all of the rain. Even with walking sticks it is very easy to lose your footing. So if you are a casual hiker, or not in very good condition, or prone to knee or ankle sprains, or 50 somethings like us, pay very close attention to the descriptions of the trails and the trail conditions. We found that due to all of the above we never got into a good hiking/walking rhythm, and after an hour we mutually agreed that it just wasn't fun any more. (This was on the Pihea trail.) I found these trails much more difficult than Teton trails.

Visited December 2012
Thank Marfak
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Level 5 Contributor
25 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“So worth the drive (and hike)!!!”
Reviewed January 24, 2013

Take your time. This could be a 3-4 hours trip if you let it be. My suggestion: drive all the way to the top, hike the trail over to Wai'ale'ale, then work your way down stopping at all the little overviews and side-roads. It will also give your brakes breaks to cool off, too!

Visited October 2012
Thank Ian W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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