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HONOPU RIDGE TRAIL ON KAUAI, HAWAII

HONOPU RIDGE TRAIL ON KAUAI, HAWAII

Honopu Ridge Trail is a 5-mile out and back hike in Koke’e State Park on Kauai. I attempted this trail once but was totally engulfed by clouds so I didn’t get to enjoy any of the views. I decided I had to go back a second time. My persistence was rewarded and we enjoyed spectacular views of the Na Pali coastline.

I hiked all over Kauai for over a month and documented all of my adventures. In my opinion, these are the 15 best hikes on Kauai!

Honopu Ridge Trail Details

  • Distance: 4.5 miles out and back
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Incline: 500m
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Honopu Ridge Trailhead

The Honopu Ridge Trailhead is just after the AwaAwapuhi Trailhead. It doesn’t have a designated parking lot but there is a spot 50 yards past the trailhead where you can park your car safely. The marker on Google Maps is accurate.

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The Trailhead of the Honopu Ridge Trail

 Hiking the Honopu Ridge Trail

The Honopu Ridge Trail is a 5 mile out and back that leads you to a spectacular view of the Na Pali Coast. The trail takes a number of turns in the early moments of the hike but they are clearly marked by pink and orange tape. Hunting trails branch out from the Honopu Ridge Trail frequently so make sure you stick with the tape markers and stay on track.

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The first part of the trail leads you under tree branches and over logs
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Follow the pink and orange tape, which leads the way!

This hike is great but it can be brutal on your legs and arms. The low-lying shrubs are incredibly sharp and the trail is so narrow there is no way to avoid their constant scrape. I would highly suggest wearing pants on this hike. It isn’t going to kill you if you don’t but you will regret not heeding this advice when you return.

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Enjoy the constant scrapes and cuts from these sharp bushes.

We wound through the tight, muddy trail as we weaved in, out, and over fallen trees and branches. It’s an adventurous trail with lots of obstacles and slippery descents. After about 30 minutes you will get a glimpse of the ocean. If you can’t see the ocean, you may be inside a cloud, which is unfortunate for you but it may clear up as you continue down.

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Almost to the first lookout!

What are my favorite pieces of hiking gear?

There are four pieces of gear that I simply never forget when I go on a hike. These are four items that I using right now and this list gets updated every year! Here are my hiking essentials.

  • Arcteryx BETA AR Rain Jacket: This is my go-to rain jacket. It’s super light, folds down into a tiny ball, and protects brilliantly in a storm. This one never leaves my backpack.
  • Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots: For the best ankle support, waterproofing, and durable exterior I’m a fan of tough but light hiking boots like these Salomons for my adventures.
  • Black Diamond Head Torch: I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve arrived back from a hike unexpectedly late. I always keep this lightweight but strong headtorch in my bag for the unexpected.
  • Darn Tough Socks: These are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever worn and last for years. They also have a lifetime warranty and you just send them in with a hole and they replace it no questions asked.

On numerous occasions throughout the Honopu Ridge Trail, you will find yourself wondering if you are indeed still on the trail. It is quite undefined in many sections but as long as you are still following the tape (which is also yellow at times) keep on pushing through.

The first time I hiked the Honopu Ridge Trail, I arrived at the first lookout and the narrow ridge section while in the middle of a cloud. Everything was white. The second time the view was insane! The first lookout has you facing straight towards the classic Na Pali ridges and a huge waterfall in the Honopu Valley. We spent an hour chilling here taking it all in. We didn’t know how long it would be before the clouds rolled in and ruined the view.

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Inside a huge cloud! How small is Josh!?
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Even though we couldn’t see any views we kept pushing on in hope!
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I think we spent over an hour at this viewpoint, which wasn’t even the end of the trail!
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staring at ridges: my new hobby
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Do we have to hike back?
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Keeping entertained while we wait for the cloud to leave!

They did engulf us a few times but always cleared on this day. After a long rest, we continued on down the trail, which became increasingly dense and harder to navigate. The second lookout peers down onto the AwaAwapuhi Trail and even as far as the Nualolo Trail. We watched whales breaching below as the tour boats cruised up and down the coast. It took us almost 2 hours to make it out to this viewpoint, not including our 1-hour rest but it was well worth it!

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small man, big mountain
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trekking to the end of the trail after a long rest
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more viewpoints!
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Adrenaline injection moment
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The final viewpoint!
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Great views to the left of the AwaAwapuhi Trail
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Otto

Sunday 10th of April 2022

Hi Jackson, Thanks for this post! It's an amazing suggestio for a trail in Kauai. Very nice! Just one question, could you see the honoou arch at the final view point?