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Sleeping Giant Trail Kauai

Sleeping Giant Trail Kauai

Why you should do it: Conveniently-located mountain trail near Kapaa offers dramatic views of eastern Kauai.
Area: Wailua/Kapaa
Difficulty: Easy at lower elevations, becoming Intermediate to Difficult at higher elevations.

Sleeping Giant Trails (there are three) on Nounou Mountain in Kauai transports hikers through a rather traditional forest before heading upwards for dramatic views of Kapaa, Mt. Waialeale, the Wailua River, the Makahela Mountains and other parts of eastern Kauai.

Located near Kapaa and the Wailua Homesteads, the trails are a favorite for local families as well as far flung travelers. The popularity of the trails are in some part due to the central location near Kauai’s population centers. Families, trail runners and individuals seeking a quick getaway to nature are often found on the trails.

Sleeping Giant Profile

Though the Sleeping Giant trails have dramatic viewpoints along the way, the trails do lack some of the tropical charm of other trails on Kauai.

The Nounou Mountain trails get their name because the profile of the mountian which resembles a sleeping giant. The giant’s head is to the left in the above photo. There are several Hawaiian legends concerning the sleeping giant, including one where the giant overate at a feast in his honor, then laid down to rest and has yet to awaken.

Sleeping Giant Trails Map

Sleeping Giant Trails

The three trails are the East Trail, the West Trail and the Kuamoo-Nounou Trail.

The Kuamoo-Nounou Trail ends at the West Trail where the trail leads up the mountain through rows of Norfolk and Cook Pines.

The West Trail intersects with the East Trail about .25 miles from the top.

The East Trail is the most direct way to the top while the Kuamoo-Nounou trail is the longest.

Distances (one way):

Kuamoo-Nounou Trail: 2 miles (to the intersection with the West Trail)
West Trail: 1.9 miles
East Trail: 1.75 miles

East Trail

East Trail

The Nounou Mountain East Trail starts at a small parking area on Haleilio Road. From Highway 56/Kuhio Highway take Haleilio Road to the parking area (location at Google Maps). The Nounou East Trail has a rapid elevation gain and is the most direct way to the top of the mountain.

West Trail

Sleeping Giant West Trail

The Nounou West Trail starts at the end of Lokelani Road off Kamalu Road where there is a small parking area for several vehicles (location at Google Maps). If parking is full there is more parking along Kamalu Road with an access path to the trail head.

Go through the yellow gate to begin the hike.

Start of west trail

Shortly you will be headed up the mountain through rows of Norfolk and Cook Pines planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

Norfolk and Cook Pines

As you climb higher there will be rocky outcroppings along the trail to be traversed. Exercise caution as there are slippery conditions from precipitation and dangerous drop offs along the upper parts of the trail.

Upper parts of trail

The trail, rated Easy to Intermediate in difficulty at the lower elevations, quickly turns Difficult at the higher elevations. Individuals with a fear of heights will especially be concerned on the upper reaches of the trail.

View from West trail

Near the top on the giant’s chest is a sheltered picnic area with expansive views of the surrounding countryside. An even better view can be found on the trail past the picnic area, but any trails past the picnic area are not officially part of the trail.

Kuamoo-Nounou Trail

Kuamoo-Nounou Trail

The Kuamoo-Nounou Trail begins on Kuamoo Road, about a half mile past Opeakaa Falls (location at Google Maps). Look for the green meadow. There is parking for several vehicles along the road.

The Kuamoo-Nounou trail is the longest of the three trails on Nounou Mountain, skirting the mountain under a canopy of trees before ending at the West Trail. If you’re seeking a walk in the woods without an appreciable climb then this trail alone is the right one for you.

At the end of the Kuamoo-Nounou Trail, there is the opportunity to continue up the mountain on the connecting West Trail.

Sleeping Giant Parking

Above: The parking area on the side of the road for the Kuamoo-Nounou Trail. For location reference the address for the house adjacent to the trail is 5750 Kuamoo Road, Kapaa, HI 96746.

Kuamoo-Nounou Trail yellow gate

Proceed through the yellow gate and along the right of way under a tunnel of trees.

Opeakka Stream bridge

After the right of way you will cross over Opeakaa Stream on a wooden bridge.

Opeakka Stream bridge 2
Views from trail
Muddy trail

The trail is often slippery from mud and rain and there are exposed roots along the trail.

Kuamoo-Nounou Trail dirt road
Picnic tables

At .75 miles into the hike you will find a covered picnic table shelter. On clear days you can see the Mt. Waialeale crater.

Mt. Waialeale crater

Thickets are found on the trail after the covered picnic table.

Knitted stocking for bamboo

Someone knitted a stocking for the bamboo. How long did it take to knit? See the tag!

Knitted bamboo
Shaded forest

The trail continues through a shaded forest.

More views
End of the Kuamoo-Nounou Trail

The end of the Kuamoo-Nounou Trail at the West Trail.

Rock on trail

At the end of the trail take a right through the line of trees to continue up the mountain on the West Trail.

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