Okolehao Hike

First of all, I must apologize for the lack of photos from this hike because it was simply too steep and/or muddy to stand up and snap a photo. Still there’s no denying that what I saw was worth the mud and sweat, and I’m looking forward to plying the “fishnet” pathway again.

fishnet over pathway

Fishing Net Was Pinned to the Pathway for Traction

To get there, head north on Kuhio Highway (56), past Princeville and down the hill to the one-lane bridge over the Hanalei River. Turn left after crossing the bridge onto Ohiki Road, which lies between the river and the taro patches. Continue down Ohiki Road looking for a dirt parking lot on your left and a dilapidated footbridge on your right (less than a mile, but since my odometer only displays whole miles, I cannot say how much less).

Park and cross the road, and enter the trail by crossing the marked footbridge and following the muddy path a 100 yards or so until you come to a break on the left leading up the hill. At the very bottom, it was simply too wet to stand still, so this is the only decent photo I was able to get at lower elevations.

indian head ginger

Indian Head Ginger

Carry a little more water than you think you’ll need. I carried 2 liters in a camel pack, and a half liter bottle and was mighty thirsty when I got back to the car three-and-a-half hours later. Again, carry more water than you think you’ll need.

The most significant feature of this trail is up; and the next most significant feature appears on your return, down. You will gain or lose more than 1200 feet in altitude over the 1.75 mile trek, and you’ll hike in and out of sun and shade, through tall grasses and deep ruts with few breaks to get a good look around on the ascent. These shots were taken at a bend just below the power line.
























The view “up” reminded me of Pacific Northwest trails I have hiked and loved. “Down” did not invoke fond memories of anywhere. Next up came this stunning view from Makana to Princeville where the powerline descends into Hanalei Valley and the trail continues to the left. Delicious cool breeze was also available here.

Makana to Princeville from the powerline.

Hanalei Bay

Dappled patches of meandering trail such as this reminded me of my youth, and scenes on the Appalachian Trail…

Reminiscent of the Appalachian Trail

Reminiscent of the Appalachian Trail

…still other stretches looked as much as anything like portions of the Pacific Crest Trail in the Cascades. One other thing I found remarkable here was how wet it is even at 1200+ feet, and that’s because all of these root lattices catch and hold considerable quantities of water.

broad trail with roots spreading back and forth

Reminiscent of the Pacific Crest Trail

Looking southwest from Kauka’oopua (1,273 feet) at trail’s end the summit of Maamaloha pierces the clouds against the north rim of Lumaha’i Valley.


Maamaloha (3,745 feet) Against North Rim of Lumaha’i Valley

With east winds at 6 mph, gusting to 30 mph, it was difficult to photograph the view to the south from the plateau at trail’s end. Nevertheless, the nearer peak behind the trees is Kaliko and to its left the higher peak of Naamolokama Mountain.

Namolokama Mountain, trees blown by 30 MPH wind gusts

Naamolokama Mountain (4,421 feet) and Kaliko (4,200 feet)

To the southeast I saw the Anahola Mountains, and what I believe is Pu’u Ehu.


Pu’u Ehu (1,946 feet) and the Anahola Mountains

The little plateau at the ‘official’ trail’s end is heavily overgrown with a several taller trees, so vistas aren’t what they used to be. Additionally, the Ti plants that were cultivated here during the Prohibition Era are being crowded out by other species. Incidentally, ‘O.kole.hao means “iron bottom” and derives from the iron try-pot stills that bootleggers (who planted the Ki on this ridge for such purpose) used to brew a liquor known by the same name.

3 thoughts on “Okolehao Hike

  1. Rowena says:

    I lived on Kauai for much of my life before moving abroad, so I really appreciate such lovely reminders in posts such as yours. Hopefully I’ll be able to visit “home” next year!


  2. Vivian says:

    The trail is very steep and I didn’t see any grab rails along the way, Is there any kind of rating system for the trails in Hawaii i.e. easy trail suitable for amateurs or not for the faint of heart.


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