Pihea Trail to Alakaʻi Swamp Trail

Top choice Hiking

in Kokeʻe State Park

For sheer scenic splendor, you can’t beat the first mile of the Pihea Trail. Setting off from Puʻu o Kila Lookout, at road’s end, it follows a bare ridge, slick with mud, with huge views over Kalalau Valley to one side and dense rainforest to the other. Continue onto the Alaka‘i Swamp Trail to create a strenuous 7.5-mile round-trip trek.

Beyond the initial half-mile, the Pihea Trail grows ever more challenging, with very steep sections where you effectively have to climb miniature waterfalls. Persist if you can to reach Pihea Lookout, perched atop the highest peak (4284ft). Shortly before that, the Pihea Trail proper drops inland, down wooden stairways, to enter a magical, moss-laden mountaintop forest.

Head left onto the Alaka‘i Swamp Trail at a clearly marked intersection, 0.75 miles along. This too starts by descending a rickety stairway, at the foot of which you have to either wade or rock-scramble across a small stream. A 4-mile round-trip hike, mostly along an unstable wooden boardwalk, will take you across eerie, misty boglands to breathtaking Kilohana Lookout.

If you choose to stay on the Pihea Trail rather than following the Alaka‘i Swamp Trail, you’ll end up at Kawaikoi Campground instead.