Hiking back through three million years of evolution on the Pepeʻopae Trail is Kamakou’s star attraction. Crossed by a boardwalk, this undisturbed Hawaiian montane bog is a miniature primeval forest of stunted trees, dwarf plants and lichens that make it feel as though it’s the dawn of time. From the trail’s end at Pelekunu Valley Overlook, you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic view of majestic cliffs, and, if it’s not too cloudy, you’ll see the ocean beyond.
To reach Kamakou Preserve, follow the 4WD road from near the Homelani Cemetery sign on Rte 460/Maunaloa Hwy. To a reach the Pepeʻopae Trail from Waikolu Lookout, follow Kamakou’s main 4WD road 2.5 miles to the marked trailhead; this makes a nice hour-long forest walk in itself.
A great way to see Kamakou is by joining one of the hikes led by the Nature Conservancy (usually once a month on a Friday – email ahead to check dates). Transportation is provided to and from the preserve.