The Pihea Trail begins at the Kalalau Valley Overlook at the end of HI-550. The trail is just over 1 mile each way, however, you can turn south just below the summit and gain the Alakai Trail, which takes you into the dense Alakai Swamp.
This route follows the head-wall of the Kalalau Valley. One one side, you see sheer 2000' drops eventually descending over 4000' down to the ocean and the NaPali Coast. On the other side, you can look into the highest elevation swamp in the world: the dense Alakai. The first 50 yards of the trail can be travelled by anyone, however, past that the trail becomes decidedly more rugged. The final stretch up to the summit is like a natural Stair-Master.
Although HI-550 dead-ends at the trailhead and overlook, the original intent was to connect Koke'e State Park with the roads near Hanalei Bay. After significant cost increases and many problems, the state evntually gave up on the effort. The first stretch of the trail takes you along a broad, clay pitch that is the remaining evidence ot the failed attempt.
See the "Getting There" text from the main Pihea Peak webpage
From the Kalalau Valley Overlook:
- Hike down the broad, obvious path along the shoulder leading down to the saddle with Pu'u Pihea. Although the views are fantastic, be very carful around the edge since the dirt is so slippery and the falls are long.
- Enter a denser, forested area as you approach the saddle.
- Begin climbing up and down a few intermediary bumps as you generally gain elevation along the trail.
- Reach a trail fork at approximately 1.1 mi; take the left branch for the summit or the right branch to enter the Alakai Swamp.
- Along the now quite steep trail, clamber up the odd, clay staircases and over a few fallen logs for 0.1 mi up to the summit.
- Enjoy the views on this rewarding, though short hike! A USGS benchmark is evident on top of the peak.
Not much is required except for some mildly sturdy shoes, water & sunscreen. The weather can turn quickly here, so you might want to bring along rain gear just in case. If the sky does open up, the dusty dirt Pihea Trail becomes a slippery bowling alley of hikers doing their best to keep their footing. Trekking poles can be helpful in such a situation, but are not necessary.