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The Nakoa Loop Trail in Kahana Valley: Mud & Poi

This 5.5 mile forested loop trail offers a full body workout from climbing over and under felled trees, a couple of chances to take dip in a stream and isn’t death defying. These are a few of my favorite qualities when it comes to Hawaii hiking. AllTrails rates this hike as moderate and sometimes they seem a bit off, but I would definitely agree with them on this one.

As you enter Kahana Valley, drive slowly and take advantage of your last chance to use a restroom when you reach the green buildings on your right. Then continue down the same road until you reach an open yellow gate and the parking area.

From this point, walk directly down the paved road and you will see several dilapidated houses that belong to the descendants of original inhabitants of the valley. When the state procured this valley, they allowed the people already living here to be homesteaded and these are the families that remain.

When you get to the closed yellow gate, carry on directly down the road until you see the signs for the trail head.

Make sure you enter the trailhead and begin in the counterclockwise direction, otherwise the signage will seem confusing. The stages are numbered 1-4.

The hike begins with heavily rooted path and some brushy overgrown areas and doesn’t get muddy until you are further back into the valley.

Almost immediately there is a slight opening and an open view of the valley is offered. Take a second to enjoy this and snap a picture or two because it is the only open view you will see.

While there are no Devil’s Clubs to watch for in Hawaii, there is this interesting plant that is lined with sharp teeth. I gave it the original and ridiculously witty nickname of the Saw-Tooth Plant, (it was a struggle) because it got me a few times. Considering this and the swarms of mosquitos, trousers are probably a good idea.

There was something magical about the way the hot pink blossoms of the ohia ai (mountain apple) had fallen and covered the ground. It gave me the feeling that forest nymphs were most assuredly nearby.

There are four water crossings, two small that can be easily managed walking stone from stone, and two larger that will most certainly require getting wet. Bring along a pair of water sandals (I brought my Keens) or wear shoes that will be fine for wading and then continuing to hike after.

At the final water crossing there are two rope swings, which seemed kind of odd on a day with only a foot and a half of water, but apparently it gets quite deep when there has been rain. There were several swimsuit clad children who looked a bit dejected when they arrived.

All in all, it was a lovely 2.5 hour hike from start to finish. I would recommend wearing your bathing suit under your clothes if you plan to swim and bringing a backpack with the following: sunscreen, bug spray, water, food, and water sandals. I wore my new hiking boots to break them in a bit and I was glad I had with all the exposed roots. You should also be aware that several cars have been broken into while parked here. Best to keep your wallet with you in your backpack and don’t leave anything visible in the car.

When you finish, you’re likely to be hungry and the best place on the island to get authentic Hawaiian food is just around the bend! A Kalua Pork and Lau Lau combination plate from Waiahole Poi Factory is definitely the way to go. Make sure you order a side of Long Rice to go with it! They have picnic tables outside, so it doesn’t matter how muddy you are, or you can get it to go and head to the beach for a swim and picnic to finish your day. 

*The businesses listed in this post are not paying me, or compensating me in any manner for this endorsement. I am simply sharing my own experience and knowledge in the hopes that others can use it to plan a great day out hiking on Oahu as well.


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