The hike back through three million years of evolution on the Pepeʻopae Trail is the star attraction of the Kamakou area. The trail ends at the Pelekunu Valley Overlook, where you'll enjoy a valley view of fantastic depth and, if it's not foggy, the ocean beyond.
You'll pass the Pepeʻopae Bog, a Hawaiian montane bog that's a miniature primeval forest of stunted trees, dwarfed plants and lichens that feels like it's from the dawn of time. This bog receives about 180in of rain each year, making it one of the wettest regions in the Hawaiian Islands.
Almost the entire 1.5-mile-long trail is along an extremely narrow uphill boardwalk that feels at times like a stroll on a tightrope. It is covered with a coarse metal grating to prevent hikers from slipping, but you should still wear shoes with a good grip. At one point a trail seems to branch off to the left but ignore this and stay on the metal mesh.
The Pepeʻopae Trail is 2.2 miles from Waikolu Lookout along a very rough road that is usually passable with 4WD, although after rains it may only be accessible by foot.
Visitors should sign in and out at the preserve's entrance. Look for entries in the logbook from others on everything from car breakdowns to trail conditions and bird sightings. Posted notices announce if any part of the preserve is closed. Bring rain gear, as the trails in Kamakou can be wet and muddy.