KUILAU RIDGE TRAIL ON KAUAI, HAWAII
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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’.
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.