Time: 1-2 HOURS
Distance: 3 MILES
Elevation Gain: 600 FEET
Foot Traffic: MODERATE
Challenges: A few minor scrambles, Can be muddy
Sights: Coastline, Makaleha Mountains
What to Bring: Water
A conveniently located hike in eastern Kaua'i, the hike up to the Sleeping Giant Summit gives you a lot of bang for your buck-- a fun, relatively easy hike with fantastic views. There are three ways to reach the summit-- Nounou East, Nounou West, and the Kuamo'o trail. The west trail is the shortest of the three, but with its gorgeous trees and foliage, you will easily lose track of time. A rewarding hike that most can handle.
My third time back to the Garden Isle, this time with a much different crew. I was fortunate to have my family visiting from the mainland, so I took some time off work to do a little island hopping trip. Our first stop was the island of Kaua'i. We had lots of activities planned, but no trip would be complete without a couple of hikes. First on the list-- Sleeping Giant.
A sketch of the hike. There's actually three different ways to reach this summit. I came here about two years ago and took the Nounou East Route. At roughly 3 miles, the West trail is the shortest in distance.
The trailhead is located at the end of Lokelani Road. There are a handful of parking spots at the end of the road, but my guess is they are often full. If there aren't spots available, it looks as though you can park off the side of the road (which we did).
Let's hike! Don't worry those hazardous cliff's won't come into play until later in the hike.
The hike feels like you are instantly transported into some forest, far away from Hawaii.
Because you are surrounded by these gorgeous pines.
Seriously, those things are amazing. I've seen them quite a few times on Oahu, but this is one of the better forests. The east trail, while it does offer more coastal views, does not have these trees. So if you're trying to decide which route to take, this may be a factor.
If you keep your eyes peeled, you can see where the trail splits off to the Kuamo'o Trail, the third option to get to this summit. Some of the Kuamo'o route takes place on the west trail, but it includes other features, like a river crossing (read more here).
The hike as a whole isn't too bad, but that doesn't mean you won't be sweating. It's mainly switchbacks, but there's a few steeper sections and a scramble or two.
But don't worry it will be worth it! First views looking towards the northern part of Kauai. These views will get even better at the summit.
A mile marker. Progress!
After 30 minutes of hiking, we reached the junction where the west trail meets the east trail. Take a right at this junction (or just follow the sign). We're getting closer...
And a few minutes after the junction, you will reach a flat clearing with these picnic tables. You are currently on the giant's chest.
This is a good place to relax. Right near the picnic tables is a great bench with a lookout of the coast.
Which of course means great photo (and snack) opportunities.
But there's still a bit more to this hike! We want to reach the official summit, the giant's head. If you continue past the picnic tables, you will see that the trail continues. Continue along it and it will lead you to this opening. Up there is the destination.
This is the part of the trail where it gets slightly more challenging. The trail narrows a bit and will require more scrambling.
The final push. This is the part that requires the most technical skill.
Aloha Sleeping Giant! It was a bit cloudy, but the views were still great. That long stretch of coastline is just so captivating.
Best thing to do is find a spot to sit and soak it all in.
The summit is wide open, so the views are a full 360 degrees. This shot is looking mauka, towards the center of the island. Kaua'i is actually one of the wettest places in the world, so it is quite common to see rain. Luckily this rain stayed in the center, so we were nice and dry on our little summit.
You can walk along the summit a bit to get different perspectives. It takes a few minutes to go from one end to the other, but it's worth exploring. I'm standing on the southern part of the summit, looking back north.
One last shot looking south, capturing that lovely coast. Kaua'i, you never disappoint. I can't wait to see what other adventures you have in store for us.
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Also Check Out:
- Journey Era's post about the 3 paths to Sleeping Giant
- My old post about the East Trail