Kauai is known as the garden island and for good reason. Everywhere you turn, sits a lush tropical landscape. No matter what you’re into, this island has it for you.There are many beautiful beaches to relax on, but choosing which hike to do can be more challenging. Some will take you the whole day, while others a few hours. 

The island is small, but has lots to offer. If your looking for a shorter hike that will give you amazing views, then make sure to try out Sleeping Giant (Nounou) Trail. As you hike to the top, you will be treated with views of Mt. Waialeale, the Wailua River, and the ocean. This hike is perfect for a quick adventure into the tropics of Kauai.   

Sleeping Giant Trail
The West side of the Sleeping Giant Trail will take you through Cone Pine Trees.

West Side Of Sleeping Giant Trail

When looking for a good hike, a few locals told us to try the Sleeping Giant hike on the west side. We were not disappointed at all. The changing landscape was amazing to hike through. 

The parking lot is small for this trail, so come early or leave enough time to wait for someone to be done. The first part takes you through tall Cook Pine trees, as you slowly gain elevation. In addition, you will come across an intersection where you can hike the Kuamoo Trail

To stay on the Sleeping Giant Trail, make sure to stay left. From here the trail is more open to the weather, so when it’s wet out, then be prepared for mud. This is where the difficult part comes in if you hike it when it’s muddy. 

Keep trekking along until you hit the first plateau, where you will see picnic tables. Rest, drink some water and enjoy the views over Wailua. 

If you’re up for it, then continue on the trail for another 10 minutes to reach the top for even more gorgeous views. As you hike back down, make sure to stay on the west trail if you want to reach your car again. 

Trail Facts

  • Location: Off of HI-581, Take Lokelani Rd to the end
    • GPS: 22.06756, -159.35825
  • Distance:  1.6 miles 
  • Type: Out & Back
  • Elevation Gain: 656 feet 
  • Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult 
  • Time: ~1 1/2 hours
  • Fact: If it has rained or is raining, then be prepared for a muddy hike, that can be slippery in parts.
Sleeping Giant West Trailhead
The beginning of the Sleeping Giant West starts in a parking lot, surrounded by homes.
You can find shady areas throughout the hike.
You can find shady areas throughout the hike.
Some parts are more steep and you will need to use caution, especially if it rained.
Some parts are more steep and you will need to use caution, especially if it rained.
The first plateau you come to will have benches to rest on.
The first plateau you come to will have benches to rest on.


East Side Of Sleeping Giant Trail

This trail is considered the “frontside” trail. You can access the trail off of Kuhio Hwy 56. Want the most direct route to the top, then take this trail. You will experience many switchbacks, so be prepared. 

Just like the other trail, this one will take you to the “false top”, where the picnic benches are located. The last portion of the hike, to the 360º view, will take you about 10 mins. 

Trail Facts

  • Location: end of Haleilio Road in Wailua
    • GPS: 22.06136, -159.34657
  • Distance: ~3.6 miles
  • Type: Out & Back
  • Elevation Gain: ~1,000 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Fact: Lots of shade along the switchback trail. Can get very crowded during midday and when the weather is good. Parts can get muddy as well and when in doubt, follow the painted arrows. 

Always check weather and the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau first, for any closures. You can reach them at 800-GOHAWAII.

What To Bring

Always plan your hike ahead of time. The weather can cause dangerous conditions for any experienced hiker. 

  • Water You always want to drink more water than you should and carry more water than you would. (This one has become engrained in us, due to living in the  Arizona desert). A good rule is for every hour your hiking, you should consume at least 1/2 liters of water. 
  • Clothing Dressing in layers is the way to go. It can get very hot and humid on the trail, so it is best to wear cloths made from Rayon, Linen, or cotton. 
  • Footwear Proper hiking footwear is needed that has good traction when hiking in mud and rocks. 
  • Snacks The hike up can take some energy out of you and it’s best to replenish with high calorie and protein snacks. 

Other Hikes On Kauai

Kuamoo Trail 

  • Location: Wailua east side, off of Lokelani Rd
    • GPS: 22.0515, -159.3675
  • Distance: ~ 5 miles
  • Type: Out & Back
  • Elevation Gain:
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Time: ~3 hours
  • Fact: This hike takes you by the Opaekaa Stream

Waipoo Falls Trail

  • Location: Waimea in the West Shore
    • GPS: 22.11557, -158.66974
  • Distance: ~4 miles
  • Type: Out & Back
  • Elevation Gain: ~1,200 feet
  • Difficulty:  Moderate
  • Time: ~ 2 1/2 hours
  • Fact: Takes you to the 800 foot Waipoo Waterfalls. Trail can be muddy when wet and fog can sometimes be present. 
Waipo'o Falls, Hawaii
The 800 foot Waipo’o Falls is great for pictures.

Hanakapiai Trail

  • Location: Haena in the North Shore
    • GPS: 22.2203, -159.5827
  • Distance: ~4 miles
  • Type: Out & Back
  • Elevation Gain: ~760 feet
  • Difficulty:  Moderate 
  • Time: 3-5 hours
  • Fact: You will need to hike from Hanakapiai Beach, which has the Kalalau Trail. 

Other Things To Do

Waimea Canyon State Park

Koke’e State Park

Farmer’s Market in Hanalei

Related Read

Looking for another hike to do while enjoying Kauai? Then take a look at Queen’s Bath: The Dangerous Yet Breathtaking Hike On Kauai. 

Click Here

Have you tubed down the Salt River? Did you enjoy yourself and would you recommend it to others? Have any other activities or places we should see, let us know in the comments section. Thanks for taking a look at our site and don’t forget to subscribe for future articles and tips. 

The information on this website has come from research and by experiencing it ourselves. Opening hours, closures, prices, etc. are always subject to change. We try to keep up to date on any new information, or tips to help make your adventure more enjoyable. 

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