Kuilau Ridge Trail in Kapa’a, HI

Kuilau Ridge Trail is a muddy but well-maintained hiking trail south of the Makaleha Mountains on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.


Easy to moderate


3.6 miles


666 feet


1 hour 43 minutes

Route Type

Out and back


Pets are allowed on a leash.

Trail Begins

Keahua Arboretum

Gear / To Bring

  • Sun protection (glasses, hat, sunscreen)
  • Water (at least one liter per hour on the trail)
  • Salty snacks
  • Hiking boots
  • Poncho or rain jacket

Best Seasons



Free parking near Keahua Arboretum


Yes, bikes are allowed.



Kuilau Ridge Trail Location

Kuilau Ridge Trail begins at a trailhead near the Keahua Arboretum in Kapa’a, Kauai. There’s room for roughly three cars to park near the trailhead, but there is other parking a short walk away if it’s full.

The trail was once an access road used by firefighters but is now a wide hiking trail that’s perfect for strong beginner hikers and families. Study the Kuilau Ridge Trail map at the trailhead and take a picture of it before you set out, as the trail connects with longer, more challenging trails nearby, and it’s possible to lose your way in the lush tropical mountains.

Along the way, you’ll be delighted by various wild native and non-native plants, including pineapple and guava. Once you reach the ridge, the trail has stunning views of the nearby mountain ranges.

The wettest place on earth, Mt. Waialeale, is visible just to the west. You’ll also get glimpses of Nounou Mountain, known locally as the Sleeping Giant, and Kapehua’ala, the tallest mountain in the Makaleha range. Very few other hiking trails offer so many scenic vistas in such a short trip.

Kuilau Ridge Trail Length

The Kuilau Ridge Trail is 3.6 miles out and back. There’s a lovely picnic area about a mile in, where you can rest your legs and take in the surrounding views before continuing to the summit. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, you can continue past the end of the Kuilau Trail, joining up with the Moalepe Trail, which roughly doubles the total trip length.

The trail is a reasonable length for a day hike, and the elevation gain is gradual. Most of the challenge in hiking the Kuilau Ridge Trail is that it can be muddy after rain (which is pretty much always) and overgrown in some places. Make sure to download your Kuilau Ridge Trail map or take a picture before you set out on the trail so you always know where you are.

Kuilau Ridge Trail Hours

Kuilau Ridge Trail is part of the Līhu’e-Kōloa Forest Reserve, which has no official hours. We recommend starting close to daybreak to beat the tropical heat as much as possible, as dehydration is a significant risk at these temperatures and elevations.

Kuilau Ridge Trail Reviews

Reviewers say that Kuilau Ridge Trail is one of the best hikes in Kauai. It’s muddy but otherwise not too challenging, so it’s a perfect adventure for beginner and experienced hikers alike.

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Featured image via Kauai