Hiking the Kuamoo-Nounou Trail

Hawaii is beautiful but living and working here you have to step out on the weekends to get out of that “cubicle rut” and see the beauty of our islands. Though I’ve hiked a lot of easier family-friendly state trails on Oahu, I haven’t hiked any of the neighbor island state-approved trails. Recently, I saw a co-worker’s post on hiking the Na Pali Coast on Kauai, so on my next day trip to Lihue I had to find a trail I could do on the east side of the island. 

Near Kapaa, I came across a gem of a hike, the Kuamoo-Nounou trail. The trail leads to a view that snakes around a small mountain calling the “Sleeping Giant,” named so because when viewing the mountain from the side it appears as though there is a profile of a huge person resting. I think we were supposed to end the hike on the top of his face.  

It’s pretty easy to find once you are on Kuamoo St. First, you’ll pass a heiau and the lookout to Opaekaa Falls, so definitely check those out if you have time. The trail sign is right next to an open field and your friendly neighborhood Kauai chicken is there to greet you. 

First, you’ll cross a beautiful wooden bridge and hear birds chirping away.  Once you start hiking, you’ll see these handy distance markers every quarter mile. The Kuamoo hike ends at the mile two marker. 

The first view comes fairly fast; you’ll see some neighboring homes and mountains from a couple of picnic tables but don’t hang out long since most of the hike is coming up. As you wind around the trail, you’ll pass beautiful bamboo and a lot of overhanging trees so be aware if you start the hike later in the day because you’ll quickly be in partial darkness in the afternoon. 

Once you enter part of the hike that consists of a pine forest, you’ll see the two-mile marker, if you continue a few steps you’ll see a rock that says “end” so even though the trail goes on further, that’s the point when you’ll transfer to the Nounou trail. If you look to your right, you can easily spot a neat walkway surrounded by pines as you start to ascend the Nounou trail. Again, you start to see new quarter mile markers so you know you are headed in the right direction. Thank so much to the folks that maintain these state trails with handy markers!

From this point on, the trail starts to climb up more versus the flat Kuamoo trail that seemed to wrap around the mountain forever. Here’s one photo of a tricky part of the trail and really this isn’t bad considering this trail leads you to the very top.

Right before reaching the top you’ll come to a fork in the path and you’ll have to head right at this spot. I peeked at little left but quickly realized the right path heads up to the top ensuring we were headed the right way. 

Before you know it, “Tada! You’re there.” The view at the top of the Sleeping Giant is fantastic. We met a visitor who was taking a break by the picnic tables while soaking in the fantastic view at the top and he said to keep heading up a skinny trail on the side of the picnic tables to an even better view. So, we took a few steps onto the more narrow trail but stopped at the “end of the trail” sign. After taking a few more photos, we headed back down. As a general rule, I wouldn’t recommend traveling past end-of-trail signs since the state doesn’t maintain those parts of the trail and it can be unsafe. 

All in all, it was a really nice workout and we got to enjoy some of the natural beauty of Kauai. Though it wasn’t as challenging as I’ve heard the hikes of the Na Pali Coast are, as you can see this East side hike is great and feasible for most families to embark on.