KUILAU RIDGE TRAIL ON KAUAI, HAWAII

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In what was a last minute decision, we opened up Google Maps and searched for a hike near Wailua, which we could do before sunset. The Kuilau Ridge Trail looked perfect and was just past Opaeka’a Falls. It’s only a 2-mile, out and back trail, which is easy for all levels of hiking ability. If you are visiting Oahu on your trip to Hawaii make sure you check out one of my most popular posts: 10 Best Hikes on Oahu

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!

Kuilau Ridge Trail Map

To get to Kuilau Ridge Trail you just cruise up past the Opaeka’a Falls. It’s only about 20 minutes from the beach in Wailua. There is a small parking lot, which can fit about five cars. A brown and yellow state sign marks the entrance and clearly says Kuilau Ridge Trail.

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The carpark is on the right-hand side of the road and you will find this sign, clearly showing the start of the trail.

 

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Once you pass this gate you have officially started the Kuilau Ridge Trail.

 

The Kuilau Ridge Trail Hike

The Kuilau Ridge Trail is a perfect two-hour adventure. It’s short but because you are already elevated so high from the drive, the views are awesome from the first moment. A small muddy trail leads you along a winding path that cuts in and out along the ridge for two miles.

The trees and plants on the Kuilau Ridge Trail are out of this world. Huge ferns blanket the lower level of the forest, while enormous trees tower above you as you make your way along the path. It’s a classic Hawaii hike that has you feeling like you are on the set of Jurassic Park.

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Huge trees line the Kuilau Ridge Trail

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After you are about 3/4 of the way into the Kuilau Ridge Trail you will find a couple of benches in huts. This isn’t the end of the hike, although it is an important marker. If you turn on a right angle to your right and follow the path down the hill, this will lead you in the right direction to the end of the Kuilau Ridge Trail. If you continue on forwards you will reach a dead-end. However, you should go forward and reach the dead-end because these were the best views of the hike!

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These benches & huts mark about 3/4 of the way through the Kuilau Ridge Trail. The viewpoint is nearby but this is not the end of the trail.

From the viewpoint, you can check out the epic views of the valley. We counted six layers of mountains and looking at the blanketed ferns creating a canopy below was a scene I won’t forget.

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This is the epic viewpoint at the end of the Kuilau Ridge Trail

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How epic are the canopies and layers from this view!

Once you finish up enjoying the viewpoint head back to the benches and indeed take that right angle turn down the hill to continue the trail. It got increasingly muddy from here on in and the trail had quite an odd finish. In the depth of the forest, the trail suddenly finishes abruptly as a sign says ‘End of the Kuilau Ridge Trail’.

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We continued hiking past the viewpoint and the benches. The trail got quite muddy here!

 

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The end of the trail is marked by the sign and bridge.

We hiked a little further but nothing much changed as we were inside thick tree cover so after 20 minutes we turned around and went back to the huts for sunset before making our way down the mountain after sunset.

I highly recommend this simple but beautiful hike for a short adventure just out of Wailua.

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How crazy is Kauai! This was the amazing sunset experience we had as we made our way back down the Kuilau Ridge Trail!

 

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