This old road turned trail gently guides you up 760 feet to a glorious view of the Makaleha Mountains. At the beginning of the path you'll catch glimpses of Kawaikini and Mt. Waialeale, the wettest place on earth, to the west. The Makaleha Mountains are to the north. Even though your view for the first part of the trail is blocked by the ridge, you are treated to a smorgasbord of native and non-native plants from guava to the hala tree. This is a great trail for families and many local families bring their young children up here for a picnic on the weekends. Originally constructed as a road to combat a fire in the area, the Kuilau Ridge Trail is wide and well maintained (although it can be quite muddy if it has been raining). After your hike, you can go for a swim at the Keahua Arboretum which is a short walk from the trail head. Make sure to use the brush near the sign at the beginning of the trail to remove debris from your boots before and after your hike to help prevent the spread of invasive plants.
Once on the trail you willl see small spur paths shooting off, but stay on the trail. If you packed a lunch, the one mile point is an excellent spot to take a break. The grassy area offers a picnic table and a forest of native ohia trees which often produce a bright red bloom. Once you are finished here, the trail picks up to the east and descends slightly into a switchback. After a quick ascent you'll be treated to a lovely view of Nonou Mountain - better known as The Sleeping Giant...can you find his chin? Further down the trail you will come to a wooden footbridge which crosses the Opaeka'a Stream. A junction lies up ahead and you need to take the left fork into a grouping of eucalyptuses and ferns. Your destination is just ahead: a beautiful veiw of Kapehua'ala, the highest peak of the Makaleha Mountains. To reach the trailhead take Highway 56 from Lihue and take an immediate left onto Highway 580 for 8 miles until you reach Keahua Forestry Arboretum. There are two parking lots on the right side of the road. Once you park, head back down the road on foot to the trail head which is also on the right. Take a look in Google Earth at our Kuilau Ridge Trail Map.
Article Edited/Contributed by: John C. Derrick