Kuilau Ridge Trail Update

After yesterday’s blog update, today I have news that the Kuilau trail has been “updated.” In my first post about the trail, I focused on the nice views near the picnic shelter at the end. I walked the trail a week ago and some maintenance has made it even better.

The most evident work that has been done is a thinning of trees by the side of the trail, opening up many more views than existed before. This is in the first half of the trail that used to be very shaded, so now it is a little more exposed to the afternoon sun. As much as I’m opposed to “improving” natural areas for aesthetic reasons, I have have to admit I was enjoying the many sights. In the photo below, you can see the trunks and branches that have been trimmed, making a nice view of the green valley and Makaleha mountains beyond.


One advantage to having more light on the trail is that it should dry out quicker and be less muddy. When I looked at the trail again, I noticed that it was very flat and even all the way up. While this trail was never very rutted, it had some places where it wasn’t very flat. Now it’s been graded and some gravel added to make it almost passable by a wheelchair (I did say “almost”).


Similar to what was done on the Moalepe trail further along, I think all this work was done because it is a popular horseback ride from the stables nearby. And since I find it hard to believe that the State did all this maintenance on a trail, I would guess that the stable owners contributed to the effort.

We’ve been having Kona weather recently, where the tradewinds are replaced with Kona winds (from the south or west). This gives different views of the mountains on the east side because now the clouds are being blown over from the other side. I got another picture of Pohakupele, although you can’t really see the distinctive rounded summit in the clouds. This is the peak to the right of the Blue Hole over which it is said the ancient Hawaiians hiked up to Wai’ale’ale. The clouds reveal the deep notch in the north-eastern ridge, and so they probably followed the south-eastern ridge, with appears directly in front of the mountain in this picture:


Because the Kona winds create and push the clouds up from the south, it is clearer over the south shore. In this view looking south, the low point is the Knudsen gap, near the tunnel of trees, and the first major peak to the right is Kahili Mountain.


It’s not that great a picture, and I didn’t really manage to improve it with Photoshop, but I want to include it because it made me realize what is so incredible about the views from the Kuilau ridge: you can probably see 20% of the surface of Kauai from here, and except for the powerline and a few distant antennas, there are no man-made structures visible.

After the good news, the bad news: there was a lot of broken car window glass at the parking lot right at the trailhead. Upon seeing that, we parked 150 feet (50m) further in the larger parking before the river crossing. There is no glass there.


I don’t know if this glass is the result of theft, drug-induced rage or teenage pranks, because this is a popular hangout, and there are jest as many rental cars in each parking. Still, do not leave anything valuable in your car whenever you park at any trailhead or beach, and do not leave anything visible other than worthless items such as towels. You should also hide your guidebook under your seat if you don’t hike with it.

Update: Just to end on a happier note, local reader Erik Burton sent me these photos of hoi, a native wild yam, that can be found along the Kuilau Ridge trail. I’ve seen them before, but never took pictures of them. Hoi (pronounced ho-ee) was a famine food, gathered only when necessary, probably because it is also known as the bitter yam.

The tubers come in all sizes, from golf-ball to large potoato. I think they grow aerially and so you often see them having fallen off the vine and rolled onto the trail. Erik says the vine grows from a large tuber underground, but I’ve never dug one up.
The vine is easily recognizable, with simple dark green, heart-shaped leaves.

Printed from: http://great-hikes.com/blog/kuilau-ridge-trail-update/.
© 2017.

1 Comment   »

  1. Joy says:

    My husband and I did this hike when we visited Kauai last May. It’s such a beautiful and mellow trail. We got an early start, to avoid the heat, and didn’t run in to many fellow hikers. There was a light breeze and some rain, and it was just heavenly. The picnic area was a sweet place to sit, rest and listen to the quiet. Except for the chickens.
    Thanks for writing such a great blog. We love Kauai and enjoy reading about it when we’re not there.
    Joy Silva

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