Honopu Ridge Trail
Honopu Ridge Trail General Description
Honopu Ridge Trail is a 4.2 to 5 mile roundtrip (depending on how far you go on the ridge) hike that takes you to incredible views of Honopu Valley and a portion of the Na Pali Coastline. The trail drops about 1,400-1950ft in elevation from the trailhead to the ridge. View our 2011 Google Earth Honopu Ridge Trail map.
The main trail can sometimes become vague and you might be mislead by several other smaller (hunters) trails that branch off from the main trail; this is especially true near the trailhead. Keep an eye out for the orange and pink ribbons that others have tied up to mark the trail. Sticks and branches are often laid across the wrong trails, so watch for them. At the trailhead, just as you leave the road, take the left branch (under the large limb) to find the main trail. At approximately 10 minutes or so into the hike you'll come to a junction in the trail - you'll want to bear to the right at this junction and from that point follow the most worn portion of the trail (again, look for the orange and pink ribbons). If you find yourself at a stream bed (the left fork), go back and take the other fork which continues out onto the ridge. A GPS can come in really handy as well when retracing your steps out, as there are opportunities to get lost coming out as well. Overall though, we feel the trail is fairly easy to follow and is well marked. Once you get through the initial "maze" it's very easy to follow the trail out onto the ridge.
This is rated a difficult trail based on the fact the trial is not officially maintained. While the trail is pretty short, be prepared to bush wack; the ferns are especially brutal on the legs if you're not prepared. Wearing long pants is a great way to get through the ferns (we personally recommend the convertible cargo pants).
While there is a good bit of descent in the first mile and a half, it's not that much different than many of the ridges in the area. Nualolo is probably steeper going down than Honopu; though Honopu does have some very steep areas. There are three major parts of the trail. The forest/fern portion of the trail, which terminates at an overlook of the valley mostly blocked by trees. From here the ridge descends steeply onto the ridge where the views get increasingly better as you hike up and down the hills along the ridge. Eventually you'll come to a hill where the trail descends very steeply again onto the outer (third) portion of the ridge. This is where we'd advise you to stop, as the third and final portion of the ridge is very narrow and dangerous. The views from the end of the second portion of the trail are fantastic, and they won't get much better further out. If you do continue, use extreme caution as the trail is only two or three feet wide in places with a very steep drop off on either side.
Location: West Kauai Detailed Map: Detailed Honopu Ridge Trail Map
On the Kauai Map
Parking for this hike is located 4/10th of a mile past the 17 Mile Marker on Highway 550. The "parking lot" is on a curve, just a short ways past the Awa'awapuhi trailhead. If you miss it, just park at Kalalau Lookout and hike the 1/4th of a mile back to the trailhead.
Kauai Guide Tips & Advice
Wear long pants to avoid scratches from the ferms
Bring lots of water, the ridge is fairly exposed once you're out there
Kauai Guide prepares to launch
February 22, 2011
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