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Planning a visit to Kauai? We regularly add news and information about events, activities, and places to see on The Garden Isle.

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Sheila Heathcote has lived in Hawaii since 1986. She's a published author on the topic of Kauai and the owner of Hale O Nanakai Bed & Breakfast.

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Enjoy the Rainforest - Koke'e State Park Kauai --Pihea/Alakai Trail

 Summertime in the Rainforest is one of the most spectacular experiences available to anyone who encounters the island of Kauai. An array of endangered plants and endemic flowers are in fragrant blocom and the rare native birds -- whose curved bills evolved to drain the nectar from these specialized flowers -- are dazzling the forest canopy with their vibrant green, red and yellow feathers.

At left: Vantage point from Pihea Peak on the Pihea - Alaka’i Trail. Spectacular views of Kalalau Valley and the Na Pali Coast

How to get there: From Koke’e Museum, turn left on Hwy 550 and drive 3.8 miles to the end of the road at Pu’u o Kila Lookout.

Trail Length: Pihea Peak is reached 1.3 miles beyond Pu’u o Kila Lookout. This portion of Pihea Trail traces the back edge of Kalalau Valley with extraordinary views into this huge valley and out to sea. It connects with the Alaka’i Swamp Trail; round trip to Kilohana overlook is 8.6 miles. Pihea Trail is 3.7 miles one way down to Kawaikoi Stream, and Alaka’i Swamp Trail is 3.5 miles from “Camp Sloggett” Road to Kilohana overlook.

Trail Description: Pihea Trail provides great views of Kalalau Valley along the rim, good territory for watching native forest birds and a look at a native rainforest. Clay soils that are slippery when wet and a climb of several hundred feet in elevation make this trail challenging. At 1.2 miles, a steep fork left leads to Pihea Peak.  At 1.6 miles, a section of boardwalk has been constructed. Continuing to the right at the Alaka’i Trail junction on the boardwalk leads to Lehua Maka Noe, a small bog.  Turning left on the Alaka’i Trail, the boardwalk continues downhill towards Kawaikoi Stream.  After crossing Kawaikoi Stream, the trail goes up a ridge then across very boggy and foggy forestlands to Kilohana overlook on the rim of Wainiha Valley, with great views of Kaua’i's north shore (weather permitting).

As Dennis Kamakahi, a famous Hawaiian songwriter noted, if you come to a lookout and there is no visibility because the Koke'e mist is  draping the view, be patient! Just wait for 10 minutes or so and see what happens. The mist often blows through and away the minute the tour busses leave!

For more trail information go to: http://www.kokee.org/kokee-state-park/trails Remember to bring camera, water, and a light rain poncho. Wear rugged footwear and expect a little mud. THERE ARE NO TRAIL SIGN IN & SIGN OUT STATION IN KOKE'E OR WAIMEA PARKS. Hike with caution and DO NOT wander from trails and boardwalks both for your own safety and the well-being of the beautiful, rare plants. Thank goodness there are no snakes in Hawaii and few mosquitos in Koke'e. Have fun and enjoy!