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Pihea Trail to Alakai Swamp is a 7.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Kekaha, Kauai, Hawaii that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 7.7 mi Elevation gain 1,620 ft Route type Out & Back
Dogs on leash Hiking Nature trips Walking Bird watching Running Forest Views Waterfall Wild flowers Wildlife Bugs Muddy Over grown Scramble
Description
Waypoints (6)
Contact
Tips
Getting There

Combining two of Kauai's best hikes take us from dramatic coastal cliffs to an exotic boardwalked swamp trail. Kauai, the oldest and westernmost inhabited Hawaiian island has a terrain and climate like nowhere else. This hike combines some of the best features of Kauai into an unforgettable hiking experience. Take a westerly drive around Kauai until you run out of road and you'll find yourself at the Pu'u O Kila Lookout marveling at the views of the plunging cliffs of Kalalau Valley on the fabled Na Pali Coast. Exploring beyond this point is achieved only on foot, so strap on those hiking boots. The trail starts at the end of Waimea Canyon Drive (550) at the Pu'u o Kila Lookout. Views of Kalalau Valley. Pihea Trail intersects Alakai Swamp Trail and continues to the Kilohana Lookout. Views of Ha'ena and the North Shore are visible from Kilohana, clouds permitting.

Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, 2270 Kalakaua Avenue, Suite 801 , Honolulu, HI, 96815, Phone: 800-GOHAWAII, Fax: 808-924-0290

Tips: - We have labelled this trail as difficult because the Pihea Trail in particular can be rugged, muddy and slippery. Good shoes highly recommended. - If you haven't driven past Waimea Canyon before (and you will on the way to this trailhead) be sure to get an early start since you'd definitely want spend some time at the canyon.

Directions from Waimea: Follow Highway 550 northward as it leads through Waimea Canyon State Park and into Koke'e State Park. Continue on 550 to it's end at Puu o Kila lookout. The trail begins from here. Follow the road scar eastward.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (201)
Photos (776)
Recordings (115)
Completed (657)
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david waggoner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 7, 2020
Hiking

This is my second time in three years and both times the conditions were very wet and the coastal views were nonexistent. Maybe when conditions are dry, this trail is moderate, but when conditions are wet this trail is HARD.

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Steph Ring
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 12, 2020
HikingMuddyScramble
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Virginia Boie
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 10, 2020
HikingMuddyScramble

Overall, this was a fun but challenging hike that we would definitely do again. We did this hike on a day where there had been significant rainfall over the past couple of days, and at least in such a context there are a couple of watch-outs to be aware of before doing this hike, even for those of a moderate or better fitness and hiking ability (a group we would consider ourselves to also be in): - This trail was significantly more challenging than the Awa’awapuhi trail, which we had done a couple of days before, despite this trail being rated as “moderate” vs. “hard” for the Awa’awapuhi trail… - The first ~mile of this trail was extremely muddy, and you’ll make far better time embracing the mud than trying to go around it - sticks are also a big help, as there are a number of places where you need to scramble. - After the first mile, the trail flattens out and the hike is generally made much easier by the presence of a boardwalk, though this is run-down in parts. It’s well worth pushing on to this boardwalk section as the scenery was fantastic, even on a day like we had where the views were obscured. - Not mentioned elsewhere, but if the water is high you will have a small river crossing where your feet will get wet… Overall, this was an entertaining hike, but at least in the conditions mentioned above, this is a challenging hike in parts, and certainly not family friendly, so I would encourage you to check conditions in advance before embarking on this hike. A final point of note is that we took ~4.5 hours to cover a little over 5 miles, missing the last ~half a mile in each direction through the swamp, predominantly due to concerns in losing the light, hence cannot comment on this last swamp section.

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Chris Rooks
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 9, 2020
HikingMuddy

This is one of the best hikes in Kaua’i and I think most people overlook it. It’s a different world up on the boardwalk in the swamp. However bring waterproof warm clothes. The day we completed this I estimate it was less than 50 degrees F with driving rain and 30 mph winds. Crazy.

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Mike Bonanno
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 23, 2020
HikingMuddy

you're going to get muddy but the view is worth it, make sure to go early and give yourself about 4-5 hrs for the round trip

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Aspen Booth
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 13, 2020
Hiking

kinda muddy, some slick places of the boardwalk

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Karen Ramming
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 3, 2020
HikingMuddy

Hiking poles will be your best friend the first ~1.5 miles, and just give in to the mud in the beginning. It’s slick, beautiful, and more trafficked until about a mile and a quarter in, when the slippery clay is slowly replaced with deteriorating wood planks for most of the rest of the way. They’ve done a good job subbing these out for plastic single planks in a few spots, but there are certain areas in desperate need for an upgrade (see photos). We were socked in at the vista, but got a slight glimpse of the beach below and could tell the view would be beautiful if the clouds passed. Bring crummy clothes, solid shoes, and patience and you’ll love it.

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Brian Zepp
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 21, 2020
HikingMuddy
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josh kasteler
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 17, 2020
HikingMuddy

My wife and I did this with our 5 month old. We arrived around 730am and were the first ones on the trial. It’s been the first sunny day this week and even though it was muddy the fact that we didn’t have rain made it so much less slippery. Just embrace the mud ‘cause it’s going to get you if you make it all the way out - it’ll be a lot faster than tinkering around everything. Our 5 mo old was a champ the entire time. Def a must!

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Melissa Auckley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 15, 2020
HikingMuddyRocky

This trail was one of my favorites yet on our trip! The Pihea trail was rocky and slick but showed amazing views and the Alaka’i Swamp Trail was very jungle like (many parts of the boardwalk were out or wobbly so strategy will come into play). The lookout was cloudy but still very pretty when the clouds parted. This was 9 miles in total and took us 5.5 hours.

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Alyssa C
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 10, 2020
HikingMuddy

There is no need to go much farther than a few steps on this trail for the spectacular views. Be careful standing close to the edge because the wind is strong and the ground can be slick. The trail is pretty steep. We stopped after a little bit because it wasn’t worth going down the steep trail just to get muddy when we already were seeing the amazing view. My brother slid pretty far down the trail because it was so slippery and he was in hiking boots. So Keep that in mind when choosing footwear. I don’t understand why people attempt this trail in flip flops or sandals. Everyone we saw that did that had mud all over their lower half of their body. Tennis shoes seems okay but something with traction would be the most helpful. Lots of people running up and down the trail so be careful.

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Katie Melnick
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 9, 2020
HikingFeeMuddyScrambleWashed out

There is a $5 parking fee at this hike. We attempted the first half mile but it was extremely slippery on an incline. We talked to a few very muddy hikers that were returning on the trail and they said it only got worse as you went along and not to attempt. We decided not to chance it and headed back. There were a couple nice lookouts in the first quarter mile though.

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Shawn Samuelson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 5, 2020
HikingMuddy

Hiked this trail today - it was pretty muddy and requires a lot of climbing over trees, roots, muddy rocks, etc. It’s an adventure! Hiking poles would help a lot. My group of 10 completed it in about 6 hours. We waited at the lookout point at the end for about 30 mins and we got lucky because the clouds cleared and we did see the view of Hanalei. I’ve done this hike twice now, and the first time it was not as muddy - makes it much easier. Had forgotten about the stairs - they are a butt kicker on the way back! Overall, one of my favorite hikes on Kauai - such a diverse landscape, very unique and incredible views at the start and finish! I would recommend starting early - you have a better chance of seeing the view at the end before the clouds roll in. HIGHLY recommend this hike.

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Jake Gaston
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 5, 2020
HikingFeeFloodedMuddyScramble

Awesome trail, with lots of scenic views of the canyon and swamp. High incline in some areas, with difficult footing to climb up or down. In rainy weather, it is very muddy and slippery. We went after a week of rain, and the river crossing to get to remainder of swamp and the lookout point over the Napoli coast had rushing water over the path, so we couldn’t cross. Other than the inability to finish the trail, it was a fun, adventurous hike to see beautiful views and experience the rainforest, swamp, and mountain. If it is raining at all, be ready to get muddy. While it was more challenging than expected, our whole group loved this hike. Note: parking fee based on vehicle size.

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Neil Sutherland
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarDecember 2, 2019
Hiking

long. wet. great. took 6 and half hrs round trip in a steady drizzle but loved the hike. got to the viewpoint and waited half hr but clouds never left. still worth the effort.

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Ian Zimmerman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 12, 2019
HikingMuddy

The trail has breath taking views. The muddy part of the trail is only the beginning and the rest is fine as you will be on boardwalks. It is one of the most rainy spots in the world but the rain passed for us after about 20 minutes. The swap was amazing. It’s a hike I would do again. The last part seems long on the way there but it’s only two miles and well worth it with the over look. If it’s cloudy you can try waiting for it to clear.

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Kelly Ballantyne
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 22, 2019
HikingScramble

This is a great hike! We arrived at 9 am and there was still plenty of parking. We had clear skies with great views along the Pihea trail. The boardwalk through the Alakai swamp was a nice change of pace after the scramble along the Pihea trail, plus the plants and birds in the swamp are pretty magical.

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Daniel Schmidt
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 21, 2019
HikingMuddyOver grownScrambleWashed out
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