Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hiking the Green Heart of Kauai



Midway between the lush north shore and the sunny south, Kauai's east side (the Coconut Coast of Kapa'a) doesn't see a crush of tourists. But hikers know better. Head inland a few miles to the Keahua Arboretum and you will find several hikes that are among the best in Hawaii.

One beauty is the half-day scamper up Kuilau Ridge, a perfect outing for a quick picnic and for families (less than five miles round-trip, with about 400 feet of elevation). A picnic pavilion with views of the lush valleys (ultra lush) is worthy of a rest, but make sure to continue past there, as the trail snakes along a narrow ridge through a garden.

The Keahua Arboretum lies in the shadow Mount Waialeale, the rainiest spot on earth with more than 40 feet annually. Several longer hikes are available, including the 13-mile trans-island trek on the Powerline Trail, which has a connecting trailhead at Princeville. You can also hike to very near the Blue Hole of Waialeale, a large pool that lies at the foot of the mountain's rippling green face. Check out Kauai Trailblazer, page 84, for tips on visiting this area.