#Kauai: Moalepe Trail (Part 2)

This post covers the hike from Mile 1.0 (approximately where the trail label is pointing on the map) to Mile 2.5 and about 100 steps beyond to “Ende Moalepe Trail.”

Not to scale, regardless of appearance

Beyond the first mile, the trail ascends from pasture through a tunnel of old eucalyptus and albizia trees and into forest. In the pictures below, the view at left is on the portion of the trail that overlays old Kalama Road, which terminates at its intercept with the old Moalepe Road through the first eucalyptus tree tunnel in the photo on the right.

Old Moalepe Road is a meandering assortment of ruts, wider in some places than others, but obviously a roadbed that’s fallen on hard times. Beyond the first summit the eucalyptus gives way to ohia trees, and a different variety of wildflowers from those encountered in the first mile.

In spite of the fact that it hadn’t rained at home for several days, many segments of the trail within the forest reserve were considerably wetter than expected. Nevertheless, these obstacles were easily leaped over, and skirted or filled in with fallen branches close at hand.

Speaking of obstacles, bear in mind that this trail is shared with horseback riders (and their horses). Although I’ve never encountered horses on this trail, it’s evident that they have been here so one must step carefully.

Beyond the muck the trail remains fairly dry and an easy hike. The highest point along the trail is a little over halfway between the 1.0 Mile marker and the footbridge at the end of the trail. Just beyond the 1.75 Mile marker I captured a nice shot of Kamali‘i Ridge and its most significant peak, Kamāhuna, to the right (north) of the trail.

Many plants found upland, in the interior, vary greatly from their lowland neighbors. Such is the case with the little ginger plants beside the trail in moderately wet places. An additional bonus when hiking anywhere on the island is finding the odd lilikoi (passion fruit) because they pop up so unexpectedly.

Past the summit, eucalyptus tree tunnel number two shades half of the remaining hike. On warm days in early Spring, when the bark is popping and curling, the aroma is so soothing and cooling for the better part of a quarter-mile along the old roadbed. On the day I was hiking, the trail was simply calm with scattered direct and indirect light—the cathedral effect.

Moss covered stumps, “moss men,” seemingly keep watch over the east end of the tree tunnel. The steep descent from the far end of this tree tunnel was increasingly mud-slicked, ending in a hog wallow at the bottom, by the 2.5 Mile marker.

Even the bridge across the headwaters of Opaeka’a Stream was covered in a heavy layer of mud. In spite of this, it wasn’t really slick and the bridge still felt strong under foot. Although the signpost indicates that it’s 2.75 miles back to the trailhead at Olohena Road, the actual distance back to the 2.5 mile marker is no more than 250 feet (quite a bit shy of a quarter-mile).

Remarkably, the forests have grown so much in the past three years that it’s difficult to see the ocean from the trail. Near the trail summit (approximately 1,000 feet above sea level), I captured one good shot looking southeast to Wailua Water Gap. Nounou, better known as Sleeping Giant, is on the left, extending north from the confluence of Opaeka’a Stream and Wailua River, and Kalepa Ridge is to the right, extending south to Lihue.

Wailua Water Gap

At a break in the trees near the 1.0 mile marker, I caught a glimpse of blue ocean further east at Kapa’a.

Kapa’a and the Pacific Ocean

Almost home, I stopped to photograph this hala tree, also known as screwpine, at about one quarter-mile from the trailhead. This was a ‘canoe plant’, among the first brought from Polynesia, and the leaves originally woven into mats and used for thatching roofs because it kept out the rain longer than palm leaves.

Hala Tree (Pandanus Tectoris)

Depending upon where you look, the total length of this trail is variously reported between 2.15 miles and 2.75 miles, but based on the trail markings it’s fair to call it about 2.6 one way, and depending on how often one stops to enjoy the scenery, allow 2-3 hours for the entire hike.



7 thoughts on “#Kauai: Moalepe Trail (Part 2)

  1. I like beets “quick pickled”. Mom cuts or slices them in a deep glass bowl. She mixes equal parts water and vinegar just enough to cover the beets. Adds a generous amount of salt to it and mixes that well. She then pours the solution on the pickles. Throws in a few peeled garlic cloves and lets this sit in room temperature for a day or two depending how pickly (I am sure that’s not a word) you like your beets. This pickle does not last very long so, we make just enough to last for a week. Mom thinks they don’t last very long because of me but I know better of course.


    1. Thanks Vivian, ‘Tis! And, it’s among my top three least mucky along with Wai Koa Loop Trail in Kilauea and the Sleeping Giant Trail (East) up from the Wailua House Lots.


    1. Actually, if you get a plate lunch to go, you could pack it and extend your hike another half mile further to the picnic shelter on the Kuilau Trail–views all around from Wai’ale’ale to the Blue Hole, to the Makaleha Mountains and a handy place to set your beer while grabbing the next bite.

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