The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

Na Pali Coast trails in Kokee park

By Thomas Curwen

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

From Kalalau Lookout to Puu o Kila Lookout

Level: Easy

Distance: 2 miles round trip

The easiest is the closed road that links these lookouts. A two-lane strip of asphalt, currently closed to traffic, connects the park's premier viewpoints of the Kalalau Valley, and in early morning and late afternoon, as the fog is wafting overhead, it is a delightful birding walk. You won't see as many species as in the forest itself, but it's worth the amble.

From Pihea Peak to Alakai Swamp and onto Kilohana Lookout

Level: Moderate

Distance: 6 miles round trip

Just before the turnoff to Pihea Peak, the trail drops into the rain forest of the Alakai wilderness. The birding is superb, and an elevated boardwalk keeps you out of the mud. The payoff — the other worldly landscape of the Alakai Swamp and the Kilohana lookout with its sweeping views across the north coast to Hanalei — is particularly sweet.

Waimea Canyon

Level: Moderate

Distance: Varies

The best entry point is the Cliff and Canyon Trail, which can be reached at the Halemanu turnoff on Hawaii 550. The trail follows a dirt road for three-quarters of a mile, then skirts one of the canyon's northern ridges. The views to the south across the canyon to the town of Waimea and the ocean beyond are breathtaking. The trail takes you to the head of Waipoo Falls, a sudden drop into the canyon. Just watch your step.

From Puu o Kila Lookout to Pihea peak

Level: Moderate to difficult

Distance: 2 miles round trip

This up-and-down ridgeline trek provides stunning and sometimes precipitous views of the Kalalau Valley to the north and more sweeping and expansive views of the Alakai wilderness to the south. Be careful, though: The hard-clay trail is slippery when wet, and some of the ascents, though brief, require a certain amount of dexterity.

Guided treks

Birders can contact David Kuhn for information about birding on Kauai at

Kauai Nature Tours offers a variety of guided hikes; (888) 233-8365,

The Kokee Natural History Museum (see box for contact) offers weekend guided hikes in summer.

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