Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sleeping Giant: A Kauai Classic


The supine profile of the Sleeping Giant (Nounou Mountain) lords over the length of Kauai's Coconut Coast (the east shore). Seen here from a lagoon at Smith's Tropical Plantation, the Giant resembles an Easter Island statue—his big nose is in the middle, with chin to the right.



Three trailheads will get you to the top, all coverging near the summit. That's his chinny chin chin (above) to the left, a dangerous side trip to a spot that is just a step from a free fall. But the main trail is not hazardous, even though hands are necessary for one short stretch, where the hiker is pictured above.


The mountain is part of a ridge cleaved by the Wailua River (seen above meeting the sea), by far Hawaii's biggest. On the opposite side of the river rises Kalepa Ridge



The ocean-side trail climbs just over 1,000 feet (four miles, round-trip) giving up blue water views all the way.


From the Giant's nose (the top) is a 360-degree view, with Mount Waialeale inland and Kong (Anahola Mountains) to the east (pictured above).



The mountain-side trail is the shortest, and perhaps most-scenic route, if you appreciate  tropical flora. The beginning  traverses a grove of stately Norfolk Pines. This route is 3.25 miles round-trip, with a gain of some 775 feet. The third trailhead, on the west side, covers 5.5 miles round-trip with a gain of 925 feet—but the main reason to take this trail is to enjoy a bridge over Opakea'a Stream and the Vista Hale picnic pavilion, which is .75-mile from the trailhead.

Kauai Trailblazer has further details on these trailheads, as well as many others. Well-known trails, such as the Kalalau, attract hoards of visitors, leaving dozens of other great hikes relatively free of foot traffic.