Also dubbed “Hanalei River Trail” and “Hihimanu Trail,” this ridgeline ascent behind Hanalei offers a one-of-a-kind ‘behind the curtains’ view of the valley and the ocean beyond. After a few hundred yards of mild forest meandering the Okolehao trail turns left and thus begins a breath-stealing (not to be confused with breath-taking) half-mile climb to the first vista, a clearing next to an electrical tower that gives a taste of what visual splendor awaits those who proceed.
For many, this initial climb and view may suffice. For those who wish to venture on, the hike tames down a bit, following the ridgeline and offering several other perches with which to absorb the magic that is Hanalei Valley.
For the truly adventurous, the trail continues on and turns into a rope-assisted climb (literally) of Hihimanu Ridge (Kauai’s “Twin Peaks”). This last section is arduous, can be dangerous, and should only be attempted by experienced hikers who don’t have a fear of heights. As well, if planning on doing the entire climb, it’d be wise to start early and bring plenty of water. The round trip hike should take around 4-5 hours if moving at a decent pace.
Coming down the hill from Princeville, cross the one-lane bridge to Hanalei and turn left to drive between the river and taro field. After 0.5 miles look for parking on the left. The trailhead is across the road.
Always tell someone where you are hiking (name and location of trail) and when you plan to return.
Bring water and stay hydrated. Do not drink from the waterfalls and streams. Kauai has been known to have seriously harmful bacteria in its fresh water.
Bring snacks as its always a good idea to provide your body enough calories to support the physical activity you are engages in.
Its important to know that cuts in tropical climates should be closely monitored. Do not expose open wounds or cuts to the river.
Comfortable footwear with good tread that can stay strapped to your feet is a must. Wear shoes that you don’t mind getting stained with the Kauai red dirt.
Dress in layers so you can easily remove a layer when you get hot. And add one back on when it cools of again. Because we are close to the equator the trails heat up quickly. However, conditions cool just as fast; winds picking up speed and a passing showers causes wind chill factor.