Friday, November 25, 2011

Airborne on Kauai's Nualolo Trail

You'll need a hang glider to continue from the terminus of the the Nualolo Trail, at the Lolo Vista Point, a barren cinder nub lofted about 2,000 feet above Kauai's precipitous northwest coast. The trek is about 8 miles, round trip, with a 1,600 drop on the way out. Sure-footed hikers can make a car-shuttle hike out of it by taking a hairy connector trail that reaches the Awa'awapuhi lookout (pictured in the distance in the bottom photo). After heavy rains, erosion can make the connector trail an experience best left to goats.

The Nualolo Trail is one of ten trails and hunters' roads that radiate out from the road at the edge of Waimea Canyon to Koke'e State Park. All end at oh-wow vistas and all involve 8- to 10-mile treks with a drop approaching 2,000 feet on the way out.

To the right of the highway on the way up, is the road's main attraction: red-walled Waimea Canyon, a.k.a. the Grand Canyon on the Pacific. Several trails lead into the canyon, or into the birdland forests along its rim. But wait, there's more: The canyon road ends past Koke'e at stunning overlooks of the Kalalau Valley, with view trails along its upper rim and into the fabulous Alakai Swamp. You want tropical trekking? Head to Kauai (and take a look at pages 151 to 171 of Kauai Trailblazer).