An Intimate Look Along the Alakai Swamp Trail

May 05, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

The Alakai Swamp Trail on Kauai is hike best done slowly and with the senses alive. The end view at Kilohana Vista is often never realized due to clouds and fog, but the beauty of this trail is not in the distant view-- it' in the up close. The intimate look at the unique plants is a botanist dream. The sound of the birds is a symphonic high. The feeling of the mist and wind on your skin is a complete change to that of the ocean and beaches below. The scent of the flora as it dries in the ephemeral sunlight is blessing to be cherished in the moment and in memory.

As you walk the trail look at the little things that are all around you. Some are fluffy and others prickly.

All Stages and Ages of LifeAll Stages and Ages of LifeA little fern grows along the Alakai Swamp Trail.
Koke'e State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Life is all around you.

In all different stages and ages and many, many shades of green.

Because the Alakai Swamp Trail rail leads through an Hawaiian rainforest and bog, much of the path follows planks and boardwalk, some of which are in decay.

The chaos of the rainforest can be overwhelming. It's quite easy to trip or slip as you travel, awestruck, through this wondrous world of green.
 

SqueezedSqueezedFerns and trees squeeze the path of the Alakai Swamp Trail in Koke'e State Park.
Koke'e State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

In most sections of descent and ascent the boardwalk breaks off into fern-lined steps.

The planks become squeezed by mosses, ginger, tree ferns, and ohia trees.

There is one easy stream crossing as the trail descends an Ohia grove and then rises to the swamp a few hundred feet above.

Nene crossing in the boggy-foggy Alakai Swamp.

If you are lucky you'll see Nene, Apapane, I'iwi and maybe even a Pueo along the trail. The trail is an absolute birders paradise.

A pueo flies high above the Alakai Swamp Trail in Koke'e State Park, Kauai.

A Pueo in an OhiaA Pueo in an OhiaWith about a half mile left I was cruising along day dreaming of my post hike beer when this Pueo flies over the trail as silently as could be. I dropped my trekking poles and pack and grabbed my camera in flurry. By the time I was ready the Pueo changed course and flew to a far off tree. I watched him in the distant tree for about thirty minutes until he suddenly flew high into the fog and circled above me as if in a gyre. All I could do was watch this aerial display and follow the wings as they stroked the sky like a paddle an ocean. He descended into the tallest Ohia tree at the edge of the forest and I followed, hoping to get a chance to photograph a Pueo in an Ohia.
The Alakai Swamp Trail, Kauai, Hawaii
A Pueo or Hawaiian Short Eared Owl stands in an Ohia tree near the Alakai Swamp and Pihea Trail junction.

An Ohia Lehua flower shines in a brief moment of sunlight on the Alakai Swamp Trail.

Shades of green and a symphony of life can be seen all along the Alakai Swamp Trail.


While walking the Alakai Swamp Trail stay flexible in body and mind. Some steps are bit creative!

Fern Lined PlanksFern Lined PlanksThe Alakai Swamp Trail ends in a zigzag of fern-lined planks before falling off at the Kilohana Vista.
The Alakai Swamp Trail, Kauai, Hawaii
Nearing the Kilohana Vista where an old wooden platform and (most likely) heavy clouds will welcome you.

The Green Way, PleaseThe Green Way, PleaseOn the Alakai Swamp Trail you just have to follow the green that lines the path. It won't lead you wrong.
Tha Alakai Swamp Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

The Way back? This way, please.

A tree fern to unfurl soon.

Relax and Unwind along the Alakai Swamp Trail.

One last look at one of the many interesting little things that you will see along this wonderful trail.

Time to Head HomeTime to Head HomeTime to head home on the straight and narrow path.
Alakai Swamp Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

Time to head home.

***

All photos in this post were taken on April 28, 2020. While on this day I was unable to see Hanalei Bay from the Kilohana Vista I have seen it before-- at sunrise, during the middle of the day and just before sunset, too. If you are going solely for the view, then I would say go as early as possible. But if you are going for the overall feeling of joy, then go whenever the time is right for you. Happy hiking!

Aloha,

Lee 

 

 

 


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