101 Things to Do (Kauaʻi) - - BEYOND THE CITY -

KOKE‘E STATE PARK, lo­cated at the very top of the is­land, is de­fined by its sprawl­ing 4,345-acre up­land for­est, in­ter­sected by 45 miles of HIK­ING TRAILS and pop­u­lar­ized by its SCENIC, CLIFF-SIDE VIS­TAS. The for­est is home to na­tive veg­e­ta­tion and birds. Day­time tem­per­a­tures vary from an aver­age of 45 de­grees Fahren­heit in Jan­uary, to 68 de­grees in July. There are trails—some of them spiked with per­ilous sec­tions— that lead to WAIMEA CANYON. Oth­ers, with vary­ing dif­fi­culty lev­els, wind through the for­est. Fam­i­lies can ven­ture to WAIPO‘O FALLS, which is a 3.6-mile hike from High­way 550 along CANYON TRAIL, while more-ad­ven­tur­ous hik­ers can choose the AWA‘AWAPUHI or NU‘ALOLO LOOP hikes, which are more stren­u­ous and of­fer views of NAPALI COAST. An­other of the park’s fea­tures is the 15-acre ALAKA‘I SWAMP, re­ally a moun­tain rain­for­est ris­ing 4,0004,500 feet above sea level that has been around for 5 mil­lion years. A net­work of soggy bogs cov­ered by a for­est of dwarfish trees, the swamp can be hiked via a board­walk—but be pre­pared to get muddy. If you don’t have time for a hike, the park also of­fers sev­eral look­outs along the road that boast stun­ning views and in­for­ma­tion boards. One such stop is KALALAU LOOK­OUT, pop­u­lar for its stun­ning view over­look­ing KALALAU VAL­LEY. Dur­ing the sum­mer months, the park of­fers guided “WON­DER WALKS.” For more in­for­ma­tion about trails and guided hikes, stop at KOKE‘E MU­SEUM, pick up a map, and chat with the staff about trail con­di­tions.

Each fall, the state park is the site of the Eo E Emalani I Alaka‘i, or Emalani Fes­ti­val. Pre­sented by Hui O Laka, the non­profit that runs Koke‘e Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum, this event—that’s staged at Kanaloahu­luhulu Meadow—com­mem­o­rates Queen Emma’s jour­ney to Koke‘e.

Camp­ing is al­lowed in the park, with per­mits avail­able at the State Build­ing in Lihu‘e. You can also re­serve rus­tic cab­ins in ad­vance by call­ing (808) 335-9975.

To get to the park, drive up the coast on High­way 50 from Kekaha, about 3 miles to the west of the town of Waimea. For more in­for­ma­tion, go to ko­kee.org.

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