Pihea Trail to Alakai Swamp

MODERATE 149 reviews
#5 of 15 trails in

Pihea Trail to Alakai Swamp is a 7.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Kekaha, 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.

7.7 miles
1,620 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash



nature trips

trail running





wild flowers




old growth

over grown


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.

1 day ago

I have hiked all over the world and this is easily one of the coolest and most beautiful trails I've ever done. Especially, if you connect to the other trails towards the end.

The canyon views are truly breathtaking and the structure of the trail itself is really neat. At points it's like a puzzle trying to figure out the best steps to take. My kind of hiking!

I can understand why some non-hiking types would not like it, but if you enjoy a fun and unique trail with truly amazing views then this one should be at the top of your list.

14 days ago

Easy hike (long). The clouds beat us even after waiting an hour at the top so no idea about the view. Swamp was neat to see.

15 days ago

Amazing views! Highly recommend this hike. It is a bit challenging with its unique terrain of foot holds carved in dirt hills, sticks and boards nestled in mud and possibly two miles of a mix of aged and new boardwalk planks.

We were lucky to be rewarded with near perfect weather and clear view of Hanalei Bay.

Diverse hike with changes in terrain, views and plant life. Starts on a broad dirt path with amazing views of the north coast comes to trees and more dense foliage with wood steps and planks. There are two pretty steep sections before getting to the swamp. It is the highest swamp and rain forest in the world! But don’t believe the lies; it is only the 8th wettest place in the world ;) still, don’t forget to bring plenty of water.

21 days ago

Belle randonnée mais nous n’avons pu voir le point de vue à cause du brouillard

22 days ago

We loved this hike! We had lots of fun there but make sure to wear really good hiking shoes because it gets very slippery.

30 days ago

I don’t think much of Hawaii’s idea of a “trail”. They scrape the vegetation off and let nature take its course; unchecked erosion results in gullies, steep sections and deep holes, all super slick with ankle deep mud bogs thrown in. Upside, I loved the various terrain and the swamp was beautiful. Some sections of boardwalk are being replaced, thank you YCC! I found this trail to be difficult because of the slick, steep sections and would not do it again. The views are amazing, glad I did it once.

1 month ago

Loved the beginning! And the boardwalk added a nice change, but the swamp wasn’t very swampy when I was there.

1 month ago

Fabulously fun and good for the soul!!

2 months ago

The first 1/4 mile of this hike affords incredible view of Kalalau valley. We were there around 2pm in late May 2018 and the mist and fog blew away for about 15 minutes to give us spectacular vistas. The rest of the time was completely foggy and sprinkling rain: hope you get lucky! The swamp in the last part is spooky but pretty short. Personally I didn't think the swamp was worth it, but I'm into vistas. Locals later told us their fave hike is Kalepa ridge trail, so consider doing that one or Awa'awapuhi instead.

3 months ago

This hike is about the journey, not the destination. The endless boardwalks through the swamps are unique - the experience is both exhilarating and miserable at the same time. Try to get to the end early so that the view will not be obscured by clouds, this happened to me unfortunately. Also plan to get muddy and bring plenty of water/food.

3 months ago

The start of the hike is enough to turn around most timid adventure seekers but to push on is so worth the price of admission. Once at the lookout, be patient. The clouds will soon blow by and the Kauai wonder will appear before you. Ocean, mountains, waterfalls, and all of God's splendor. Trekking poles will increase your enjoyment two-fold.

5 months ago

Done in September 2017

Really special hike, we felt all alone! Spooky atmosphere in the last part :-)

5 months ago

Loved it!

6 months ago

Great views early on the trail. Can be slippery at spots with wet mud. As you descend into the forest beautiful forest with a relaxing stream great for a rest spot before you continue the hike. A couple of short difficult spots but mostly easy to moderate hiking.

8 months ago

Incredible hike! I’ve done a lot of hiking in Kauai and this is probably my favorite trial. We were lucky enough to have a perfectly clear day with no rain and the views were breath taking.

I would not want to do this hike on the rain!

If you wan

8 months ago

Stream near the end was moving fast and 15 feet across. Ended up turning around. it rained the whole time and was muddy but fun. lots of walking on boards for hours. The beginning is very technical. Not a hike for young kids or people out of shape.

8 months ago

Nice hike. It was a different kind of hike with all the boards but still enjoyed it. Didn’t see too much the clouds were very low.

8 months ago

Go early, before the clouds settle in and you will be rewarded。

8 months ago

A beautiful hike, splendid views, an all around awesome time and time we'll spent!

8 months ago

We did this today on 11/12/17 and it took us 2,5 hours out and 2,5 hours back. Due to the rain it was very muddy on the first 1/3 of the trail. Slippery. Definitely bring hiking sticks and wear sturdy hiking boots. After that it is a never ending swamp land with boardwalk. Some are slippery and some are loose. Be careful not to fall in. At one point you have to pass a small river which has nice rocks to step on. Lots of wissen stairs as well. It was a long and you think you never get there. Finally at the lookout at 11:30. Not rewarded with a nice view due to the clouds and fog. We waited even 45 min. Nothing. We headed back. Bring lots of water, hat, sunscreen and food/snacks. You will be hungry for sure. Also start our early. Don't go to late because it can get rainy. I would never do this one again after some rainy days. Just very uncomfortable to hike/crawl through the steep and clay/mud part in the beginning. Not many people on the tail at all. Don't do this alone if you don't know hiking well and the weather is unpredictable up there. Also the swamp land didn't had much to offer as a look out at all. Nothing scenery on the hike. It's really the lookout in the end!

11 months ago

We were looking for a hike that was decently lengthy but didn't take all day. This one definitely fit the requirements. Once you make your way toward the swamp along the boardwalk, it seems as if there is no end in sight and you'll walk along the swamps for eternity. However, there is an end and the view overlooking hanalei bay is incredible. Be mindful of some of the boardwalk is a little loose. I stepped in water a couple times and soaked my whole foot, my shoes were not waterproof. We used a Garmin to track the distance and it was closer to 9 miles round trip.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The beginning of this trail has the best view you can see of the kalalau valley. This is at the end of the road at Waimea canyon state park and offers exponentially better views than the lookout point earlier down the road. You can go about half mile in to see the views, and as you go further, you get to where it becomes the swamp after about 2 miles in. Wear some grippy shoes.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Phenomenal. Best "Moderate" hike on Kauai so far! We loved the variation in geology and topography.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Absolutely unparalleled views of Napali Sea Cliffs! A must do on the island of Kauai. If it is cloudy when you first get there, wait a good 15 minutes for the clouds to clear to see the most pristine view of Napali valley. This is also such a unique hike because of all of the mud strewn over tree roots. You'll probably fall at least once!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

It was more hard than moderate but beautiful, really muddy, don't wear good clothes.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Remember moderate in Hawaii may be rated hard at home. Some repairs have been taking place but still needs work. Bring food and lots of water. We were very lucky as it seems we hit all the views with very little fog. Did have rain and it was great to have raincoats. Not much mud in early July. Fun but very tiring for some of us.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Got on the trail at 7:15. Forgot to record the trip in ...
Saw no one on the trip in - had the place to ourselves. Chose the perfect day. Best possible view from the outlook, nearest cloud was miles away. One of the tougher "moderate" hikes we've done.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

You can also take the Alaka'i south and end up at a decent, underutilized campsite... makes a good stopover if you want to continue on and backpack the canyon.

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