This hiking trail is actually a part of the Limahuli Garden National Tropical Botanical Garden next to Haena State Park near the end of the Kuhio Highway on Kauai's epic North Shore. What makes this hike special is the mix of cultural and plant based educational exhibits that the trail winds through as you ascend 200 feet up the hillside eventually revealing an epic view of the rock prominence known as Makana and the peninsula below. The lay out of the garden favors spending sometime resting and enjoying the benches set up alongside the stream and on various parts of the ascent up the trail.
At a Glance:
Secure parking and the amenities that you would expect at a National facility, but once you leave the parking lot you are in a veritable Garden of Eden with Polynesian and native introduced plants labeled and easily identifiable. A must for plant lovers!
Activity Level: Moderate due to elevation gain, but trail conditions are excellent including handrails and stairs.
Hours of Operation: Gates open 9:30 am to 4:00 pm, with grounds closing at 5pm.
Equipment: Sturdy shoes, rain gear, water and food.
Warnings: few concerns here, but interpretive staff at visitors center are very helpful and can point out any current concerns.
Reservations: None needed
Cost: $20 admission adults $10 college students with ID. Children 18 and under free with paying adult. Guided tours available for $40/$20 for adults/students and require advanced booking.
Where to Start:
The visitor's center for Limahuli has a bookstore and giftshop, this is where you check in for admissions. The cost of the admission includes a guidebook and educational guide to the garden that is yours to keep. The self-guided tour option allows for leisurely exploration and lots of pauses at sweet alcoves with sitting benches through out the Garden.
The initial portion of the hike is an cultural restoration project of the "loi kalo" (low-ee Ka-low) and newly constructed traditional Hawaiian "hale" (Ha-lay). Traditionally this area was stewarded as an ahupua'a (A-who-poo-a-a) or watershed land division running from mountain to the sea along the Limahuli stream. The placement of the Garden and restoration area with backdrop of the pristine valley takes you back in time. Plants brought by the original Polynesian settlers of Hawaii are featured with great interpretive stories regarding their origins featured within your guidebook. Slowly as you ascend the trail further up the mountain you walk throw plant groupings illustrating the slow march of species through time and evolution to modern times. Eventually the path delivers you into the native plant section where pioneering species of plants show their adaptive and endemic qualities as the original species of these islands.
Make this a destination for a culturally rich North Shore experience like no other. Come prepared for great pictures, and some exercise. This hike is a much safer option for taking walk into nature then most Kauai trails. The designers built in sections where stairs and handrails help in the elevation gain. Recommended for families, as well as elders, as well as plant lovers of all ages
Visit this website for more info: http://ntbg.org/gardens/limahuli.php
Or call them at 808-826-1053
Drive Kuhio Highway/ HI-route 56 West out of Hanalei town for 8 miles until you past the neighborhood with many "Tunnels" related hand painted signs. Go slowly until you come to a stream crossing that has you driving through the water. Just past the crossing there is small parking area on the right, continue past this section. The road will wind along the coast then inland again, just before the bridge to "Haena State Park" you will see the "Limahuli Garden" signs on your left. Enter and drive to the visitor's center.