View from the picnic area of the Makaleha Mountain Range.

Kuilau Ridge Trail 
4.5 miles – 845 feet

The Kuilau Ridge Trail is an easy hike convenient to the east shore of Kauai that offers some gorgeous views of Mount Waialeale and the Makaleha Mountain Range. The trail is part of Hawaii’s Na Ala Hele trail and access system and leads to a well maintained (and mowed) grassy plateau with a small pavilion and picnic tables.

Distance 4.5 miles | Time 2-3 hours
Elev. Gain 845 ft. | Elev. Loss 817 ft.
Difficulty Easy | Parking Easy [?]
Trail Signage Good | Bathrooms None

The Route

Kuilau Trail » Moalepe Trail

Download file: Kuilua Ridge APRIL 28-2012.gpx.

Trail Maps

  • GPS Track: Download the GPX file
  • Trail map
  • Kauai Recreational Trail Map: You can purchase this map at the Kauai Forestry and Wildlife Office in Lihue

The Route In Detail:

1. Park at the trailhead or slightly farther down the street in one of the parking lots at the Keahua Arboretum.

2. Follow the signs for the Kuilau Trail. The wide dirt trail gradually ascends above the forest to a grassy plateau and picnic area about around the 1.7 miles into the hike. While this is the best destination for a lunch with a view, continue on the trail a little farther for some 360° views.

3. At a bridge you will see a sign marking the end of the Kuilau Trail and the beginning of the Moalepe Trail. You can take this trail for as far as you’d like before turning back. Our GPS files shows us going about .1 miles beyond the bridge.

4. Turnaround when you feel ready to head back to the picnic area for a lunch or snack with a view, then head back to the car.


Trail Notes & Tips

Trail tip: Wear bright colors in hunting season

This trail is frequented by hunters during hunting season, so make sure you don’t hit the trail in camouflage for safety reasons.

Nearby: ‘Opaeka’a Falls:

It’s worth stopping at the roadside lookout on Highway 580/Kuamo’o Road for the ‘Opaeka’a Falls and Wailua river valley. The views of the falls make for great pre-hike inspiration. Be sure to cross the road to see the full river valley beneath you.

Getting There


Here is the Google Map of the trailhead.

From Wailua
  • Take Highway 56 (the main road) through Wailua
  • Just north of the Wailua River, you’ll turn inland on Highway 580/Kuamo’o Road.
  • Follow this road past the Kaua’i Research Station and Wailua Reservoir
  • The trailhead will be on your right side several hundred feet before becoming an unpaved road


There’s room for a handful of cars right at the trailhead itself. If you aren’t lucky enough to get one of those spots, there are two parking areas a few hundred feet farther down the road at the (unmarked) Keahua Arboretum just before you drive across a river.