Nu'alolo Trail

HARD 73 reviews

Nu'alolo Trail is a 6.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Kekaha, Hawaii that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, birding, and horses and is best used from March until December. Horses are also able to use this trail.

6.9 miles
2368 feet
Out & Back



horseback riding

nature trips




wild flowers



no dogs

Directions from Waimea: Take either Highway 55 0r 550 to the highway's junctiom above the Waimea Canyon. Continue up the hill towards Kokee State Park. Drive along the highway past the Halemanu Valley Road for around 11/2 miles. This will place you at the turnoff for the Kokee State Park Headquaters. Travel along a short paved broad meadow into the Kokee Lodge parking lot.

6 days ago

The distance quoted for this hike is about right, but not the elevations change (it is definitely less than 2368 feet...). The views from the end of the trail are spectacular, but note: you HAVE to go all the way to the end!! The trail doesn't reward you with the views until you've done the full distance!
On the way back we took the Nu'alolo Cliff Trail which links up to the Awa'Awapuhi Trail - You can then hike this all the way to the end (to the viewpoint) and then back to the road. The views from both lookouts are very different, so I really recommend doing both trails if you can.
You can then either walk along the road back to your car parked at the start of the Nu'alolo trail, or just hitchhike - you'll probably be picked up within a minute by one of the many friendly tourist cars going past.

The view makes every bit of the climb up worthwhile. Being terrified of heights, the cliffs got to me a bit, but bearing through the cliffy parts led to an extremely rewarding view of the Na Pali coast. The trail from the parking lot all the way to the railing overlooking the sea seemed to be more than 6.9 miles, closer to 7.7, but my watch died halfway through, so I apologize for interpolated data. The cliffs seemed like they would be deadly on a rainy day, and the trail nearly impassible. We lucked out on a gorgeous and dry morning. It was fairly lightly hiked, we arrived at 0750 and didn't see anyone until we were hiking back out. It took us 4.2 hours out and in.

8 days ago

A nice downhill treck through jungle, vallies, and coniferous areas to a beautiful view point at the end of the trail. The difficulty begins with the treck back up. We began the trail at 8am and didn't experience much mud. I would suggest starting slightly earlier so you have more time without cloud coverage at the end. We packed in 2L of water each and I think we should have brought slightly more or at least cameled up at the beginning of the hike. Along the trail there were wild blackberries and a ton of guava plants (unfortunately we only found two plants on the entire trail with ripe guavas, hike this trail in August if guava foraging is your cup of tea).
The changing environments through the hike was pretty enough for a 3 star review, but the view of the Na'pali coast is worth 6 stars.

10 days ago

We set out early from the trail head around 7 based on some recommendations that clouds are more likely later in the day. It paid off, and my wife and I enjoyed a nice trailmix brunch overlooking one of the best views I have ever hiked to. Clouds rolled in about an hour after we arrived.

As you've probably read in many of these reviews, the trail is pretty muddy during the first mile and a half. I'd recommend packing hiking boots to Kauai if you're visiting from out of state for this trail and any of the other trails on the island. My wife brought trail running shoes and had a much harder time. Cleaning red clay out of hiking clothes is not that easy.

Also, it is possible to do this trail as part of a loop with the Awa Awapuhi trail by taking the Nu'alolo cliff trail, now that the cliff trail has reopened, which is what we did. The cliff trail provides some nice new perspectives of the valley and some waterfalls. Once you connect with the Awa'Awapuhi trail it's possible to hike out to the other vista point. However, the loop does end with a very boring hike alongside a winding road with no shoulder. Loops are great, but you might just want to stick with hiking this trail as an out & back.

13 days ago

The nature is changing throughout the trail - and at a certain point you can see a beautiful view on the sea. The views are just improving until the end - when you have a breathtaking view on the Napali coast.
I would suggest going both to the Nualolo and Awa'awapuhi trails, as views from both trails are amazing, but different.

19 days ago

Steady decline throughout most of the trail, but you get to see a bunch of different landscapes. The view at the end of the trail is amazing. Takes you closer to the coast than most, if not all, of the other trails in the park. Once you reach the end, you have a phenomenal view of the Napali coastline and look back into the Nualolo Valley. On the Koke'e park map, it looks like the Awaawapuhi Trail takes you further but it doesn't. You actually look back towards that trail ending once you're at the end of the Nualolo. Go past the vista at the end. This trail is a must do.

1 month ago

Spectacular hike although it was a little muddy in sections. Trekking poles would have been nice. The views at the terminus were amazing. Great alternative to the Kalalau lookout trail. I would highly recommend it!

2 months ago

Did the trail on a sunny day after weeks of rain before. It was still very wet especially in the morning. As others have mentioned it is very slippery and the descent is steep. Fell once and had many close calls in first 2 miles that are in the in jungle. It took us significantly longer to go down than come back up because of how slick it was. The last mile or so towards the lookout opens up and is dryer but still steep. The views are incredible and saw a total of 10 people, we were the 2nd car in the lot, arriving just after 8am. I would suggest waiting for the trail to dry out to avoid mud and slippery slopes.

4 months ago

This would get 5 stars were it not for the saturated ground from 5 days of rain. The first 2 miles are basically jungle decent. In the rain there are some steep downs. I slipped twice. Thank God for the roots on the sides! I would wear better grips shoes and having poles next time. I had to climb on all 4s uphill a few times.

The last 2 miles follows the ridge line through smaller upland trees and brush. Not as wet and some good views start to emerge. There is a slightly technical decent for about 200 feet and then it’s basically all beautiful. The 1 mile views across the canyon are incredible. Totally worth the jungle wetness of the first part. I was first to the trail at 8 and saw no one until the way back then I saw about 8 people.

4 months ago

Great hike with amazing views at the end. Views look across to the Awa’awapuhi ridge and along the Nāpali coast. Some steep sections that would be very difficult in the mud at the top and bottom of the trail. Middle section is fairly easy but also quite wet due to the gully’s that the track passes through, all safe though. It appears the middle of the track has recently been cleared and widened. The climb out has some steep sections that would be very difficult to navigate when wet, in moderate to dry conditions they are fine though. Enjoy!

5 months ago

Love this hike! Best hike on the island

6 months ago

To set the stage....I am in decent physical condition... average...but carrying about 30 pounds extra and am 53 years old. I enjoyed this hike and found it challenging but not for the fitness aspect as much as the trail condition. As other reviews notedit is wet, muddy and steep...I found the descents much more frightening than the climb. I would highly recommend trekking poles for folls in average shape and those who are not descended from mountain! I bought one walking stick at the Kokee Museam and it saved me a dozen times on the hike.

It was wet and mucky for much of the hike but no surprise as you are walking through the rain forest. Best part? No possibility of a chance encounter with a snake.. 'Why not?' you ask.....'Kauai has NO snakes!'...Yep...true....tropical rainforest, sand, sea, and zero truly is paradise!

I stopped at 3 miles and turned back due to dense fog and only saw 8 people the entire trek...felt 100% safe hiking solo...but was aware and attentive...

7 months ago

One of the most exhilarating hikes on the island. The view of NaPali cost from. 2200 ft ridge is not to be missed! Hike in morning before PM clouds and/or rain move in. Recommend trekking poles for steep pitches of mud

7 months ago

Awesome hike. For added fun, trail run down but be prepared to slow down for the slippery sections. You’ll get muddy on this one.

8 months ago

What an amazing view. Worth the trip. As far as difficulty depends who's eyes your looking out. I'm 62 wife 60 generally good health for our age. Going out not bad. Coming back for us a little different story. Just have to take your time and rest if you need it. Especially the last climb that you know is coming. Our daughter and fiancé went with us and are in early 30's and hikers so like other reviews no problem.Once again when you get out on that ridge and see the Napoli Coast it's worth every step

9 months ago

Great view at the end. Started early (6am) and was back around 10:30 without seeing a single person on the trail. The trail has no technical difficulties (beside the mentioned muddy and slippery parts), i would rate it rather moderate than hard...

9 months ago

The trip out is not very interesting in mid Sept the flowering plants were over. The view once you reach the lookout were incredible and worth the journey. Reviews were accurate this would be time consuming and dangerous in wet weather. There are areas of erosion that would scare people afraid of heights. There are signs saying the Nu'alolo Cliffs trail is permanently closed. That trail is a different trail and is closed but you can hike the Nu'alolo just fine as of Sept 14th 2017. Trail is packed dirt covered with leaves which turn muddy and slippery when wet. Also this is a muti use...meaning we saw and dealt with horses. Riders were considerate but road apples and torn up paths are possible. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

9 months ago

Fabulous trail with breathtaking views at the end. It's a tough trek back out because you are going back up the 1500 feet you went down on the way in. You will be fatigued when you get back to the parking lot but it is totally worth it. Only complaint was all the sightseeing helicopters flying by out on the point. One after another. Take LOTS of water. This place is no joke and you will dehydrate fast.

9 months ago

Easy to moderate on the way down and difficult going back up. A great day hike. The views of the Na Pali coastline at the bottom are absolutely stunning and worth the hike.

9 months ago

Beautiful trail with very few people early in the morning. Need to be patient with no views for a long time

10 months ago

coming back is brutal.

Friday, June 02, 2017

The awesome view at the end makes the trail totally worthwhile. On a dry day, it's steep and tiring at times, but I wouldn't call it unusually difficult or dangerous. That said, I'd avoid this trail on a rainy day or even if it's rained recently. The steep grades would be a huge pain...and potentially dangerous... in rain or mud.

I suggest bringing at least 2 quarts of water per person.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Mostly covered until the end. You could do a 10-mile loop of this trail and the Awa'awapuhi Trail (plus walking back along the road) by taking the Nu'alolo Cliff trail. It's closed because it's seriously eroded and dangerous though. The park staff should fix it because it makes for a great loop, taking on both trails in one swoop.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

the road is closed. but if it doesnt rain, it s easy. ;)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Love this hike...difficult but great views of the Napoli coast. We went on a humid rainy day, so that made it more intense and difficult. The thickness of the forest is impressive, you soon realized how far away from civilization you are. Plenty of fruit to snack on (guavas), all you need a good pair of hiking shoes and plenty of water.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Strenuous but worth the time and effort. Going down is a breeze and takes no time. Did struggle a in the beginning on our journey home but once we hit the 2 mile marker on the way home it was cruising. Wouldn't suggest this trail if it rained recently, huge ruts could have been tricky. Bring enough water and bug spray.

Friday, November 11, 2016

This strenuous hike has a huge payoff in the form of stunning views of the coastline and valley. My boyfriend and I finished this trail in a little under four and a half hours. We went out on a clear day, so our views were unobstructed by clouds or fog. The trail to the cliffs was a pretty steady decline, so be prepared for a corresponding steady incline on your way back. Wear appropriate footwear and be conscious of any rainfall. We went on a dry day, but the trails looked like they could get washed out in a second in bad weather.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Fantastic hike. I did it back in late 2013, and would have done the grand loop that included the cliffs trail as well as the Awa'awapuhi but the cliffs trails had just been closed.

The first about 2.5 miles are not that bad, but it is a constant down hill. After that the come out of the forest and are greeted to some amazing views. After you past the Cliffs trail intersection the views down into Nualolo valley are simply stunning.

If you can stomach it, make sure to make the trek to the Lola Vista, the trail gets far more treacherous, at one point are are on a rather thin ridge and a slip in either direction would result in some serious pain or maybe even death. But once you get to the vista the view is incredible, seeing all the way down the opposite side of the Nepali coast.

If the weather begins to turn on you make sure to get back to the forest portion fast, it turned on us and we experienced a solid 2 hours of constant, often torrential rain all the way from the edge of the forest to the trailhead. The trail begins to get difficult to traverse because the trail became a log flume but at least we were out of the open where the risk of falling only meant a potential scrape or bruise.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Another great trail! Straight down and back up :) The view at the end is totally worth it! You will feel your legs burning for sure. This trail has plenty of shade so thats a plus! Great workout.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Beautiful hike through thick ginger ending on an edge over looking the Napali coast. The fog rolled in just as we arrived. We had a peep of what was below us. You have to hike on a clear day and very early to beat the fog that rolls in before 10 am.

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