Time: 2-4 HOURS
Distance: 4.5 MILES
Elevation Gain: 1500 FEET
Foot Traffic: LOW
Challenges: Likely muddy, Some overgrown sections
Views: Na Pali Coast, Ni'ihau
What to Bring: Snack, Water
Honopu Ridge is a stunning hike located on the island of Kauai in Koke'e State Park. This hike may not seem like much initially as you slowly descend the ridge towards the ocean, making your way through the trees and mud, but the end is where this hike shines. You will get unrivaled views of the Na Pali Coast and even the island of Niihau, places typically only viewable by air or water. There is only one way to describe those views-- spectacular.
Kauai AKA the "Garden Isle", is a place I have been only once, two long years ago. It was a hiker's paradise-- the Kalalau Trail, Waimea Canyon, and even some unexpected adventures, like hiking into Mount Wai'ale'ale Valley. I found out some of my friends were planning on taking a camping trip over there for the holiday weekend to do a little hiking and get off the island of Oahu. While I often like to plan my trips well in advance, I figured a little spontaneity was a great way to start off 2019. Off to Kauai we go!
Honopu, like several ridges in Koke'e State Park is simple. It stems from the main road along one of the finger ridges towards the ocean. It is easy for the first half--it's all downhill. But on the way back...well let's just say I'm glad the views are so good!
Finding the trailhead is the hardest part of the hike. If you go to the visitor center near Koke'e Lodge, you will learn that Honopu is technically not an official trail. That being said, there is nothing that explicitly says you can't do it. There are google maps directions and AllTrails links that will guide you right to it. Be warned, however, there is almost zero cell service in the park.
Another way to find the trailhead is the old fashioned way, by word of mouth directions. Shortly after Awa'awapuhi Trail (you will see a sign), the road will turn sharply to the left, and then another sharp turn right. Just after you turn right, you will see an opening in the trees on the left side of the road. THAT is the trailhead. If you drive past the trailhead a short ways, you will find this opening on the left side of the road (Note: this picture is looking back towards the trailhead). That is where you should park.
It's finally hiking time! The initial part looks like it may have few junctions, but the trail is pretty easy to follow.
You will veer left slightly, but should soon see ribbons guiding your way.
Getting in the thick of it... literally. Honopu had plenty of sections that got overgrown. It was a bit warm for a long sleeve and pants, but it definitely would have been nice. The first bit of the hike we will be tramping through the trees and brush.
But eventually a little opening...
The first views of the hike! You can barely make out what Drew is pointing at, but that is Ni'ihau, one of the seven inhabited Hawaiian islands. It is known as the "Forbidden Isle" and isn't open to tourists, but it does have a unique history, which is worth reading about.
But we still have a bit to go for that truly spectacular landscape.
Change of terrain! That is always a good sign, because more views might be coming soon after...
Our first glimpses of those Na Pali Ridges.
This picture sums up our emotions-- it's hard to look away. Those jagged and colorful ridges right next to the blue of the Pacific are awe-inspiring.
But brace yourself, because it gets even better.
The trail continues on for as far as you are willing to go, so the choice is yours.
But be sure to keep looking right, because you will continue to get a different and more expansive perspective of the coastline.
We made our way down to this little dirt hump.
From there, you could see just about everything. An awesome view of the valley.
A great view of the coast.
And even a great selfie spot!
What an incredible way to start our Kauai adventure! Can't wait so see what else The Garden Isle has is in store for us!
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Also Check Out:
- Koke'e State Park's official website
- This writeup about Honopu Ridge