The Awaawapuhi Trail is one of Kauai’s premier hikes and is a bucket list item for many hikers. The trail almost literally takes hikers to the edge of the world. The payoff after a rather mundane hike down a three-mile forested, substantially muddy path is a spectacular, jaw-dropping view of Kauai’s Na Pali Coast from the top.
There’s a railing at the top of the lookout, but many people venture down a thin precipice for even closer and more dramatic (and more dangerous) looks and selfies. At this point, it’s 2,000 feet down on either side and 4,600 miles of ocean to the other side of the world.
Awaawapuhi Trail Details
Why you should do it: The jungle hike takes you to an incredible overlook of Kauai’s Na Pali Coast.
Area: Kokee State Park
Trail Length: 3 miles (one way, six miles total)
Difficulty: Intermediate (difficult if you go past the railing
Equipment to bring:
- Rain gear
- Appropriate footwear
Located in Kokee State Park near the Kalalau Lookout, the out-and-back trail starts at a parking lot on the side of Kokee Road. There is parking for about 15 vehicles, but with the popularity of the trail increasing, you may have to find a parking space on the side of the road.
The hike to get to the Awaawapuhi Lookout can be both rewarding and frustrating. Peace and solitude can be found along the mostly forested path. Muddy spots, the lack of more expansive views, and the three-mile length (six miles total) can be frustrating to some hikers.
Awaawapuhi Trail Hike Guide
The trail starts at 4,120 feet and gradually descends 1,620 feet to 2,500 feet at the trail end. In the back of your mind, you’ll know that each step you take down towards the lookout will be a step up on the way back.
Inexperienced hikers, hyped on the way to the lookout, have been known to bemoan the three-mile return trip.
The first two miles of the Awaawapuhi Trail are mostly forested, with more than a few muddy spots to navigate.
More expansive views can be found along the last mile of the trail before you arrive at the lookout. The Nualolo Cliff Trail connects to the Awaawapuhi Trail at mile three, offering more hiking options in the area. You can also do the Nu’alolo Trail and this one on the same day.
At the end of the official trail! The official word is don’t go past this railing.
Here is the view from the top!
Going past the railing is not recommended, but it’s something a lot of people do anyway.
There’s a small landing if you go down farther, and beyond this landing is a dangerous narrow pathway. The pathway could be slippery, especially when wet, and the ground and rocks could crumble near the edges. A fall would almost certainly be deadly.
Is the Awaawapuhi Trail the best hike on Kauai? For many people it is. The trail is certainly one of the best on Kauai, and that’s saying a lot on an island full of beautiful hikes. Here at Kauai Travel Blog we rank a couple of trails ahead of the Awaawapuhi, including the Kalepa Ridge Trail and, of course, the famed Kalalau Trail.
But it’s right up there with the best. If you decide to go, we recommend bringing plenty of water, some snacks, and rain gear as there’s always a good chance of rain on this trail!