Sleeping Giant Trail, Kauai’i

The Sleeping Giant Trail (Nounou Mountain) ascends 948 feet over a mile and three quarters one way, with dirt trails and a rugged final ascent. Image above, clockwise from upper left: 1. View of summit, 2. Dirt path ascending through the foliage, 3. Final pitch to the peak, 4. View of surrounding mountains and sea.,5. Weary feet upon return.

The hike was done with various family members in 1996. It was a challenging and rewarding hike, one that would be well worth repeating. See journal notes below.

To the Sleeping Giant (journal notes from that day)

We took the Haleilio Road south of Kapa’a up to the Nounou Mountain Trail.  The reddish-brown path led through trees, brush and blooms as it wound upwards towards the crags of the Sleeping Giant.  At places, the trail turned into a rock climb as it skirted the lower cliffs.  It led steadily, steeply upward, challenging our flatland legs to continue on.  Shade and breezes cooled some sections, while calm and sun baked other sections. 

At the top of the first crest, a shelter held much-graffitied tables.  To the east, breakers accented the merging of dark earth and blue sea.  To the south, a taller crest of the mountain taunted.  A steep, narrow trail led along an exposed ridge to the final crest.  We walked, then climbed up the route to the highest point.  Spectacular scenery swept before us, from mountains to slopes and valleys to seas breaking on the shore.  Way below, our car appeared in micro size at the trail head, so far away. 

How do we get down?  Going up is easier then going down, partly I think, because you can’t see what you’ve gotten yourself into.   From foothold to foothold, with an occasional handhold thrown in, we carefully stepped back down the mountain.  The dirt trails proved more hazardous than the rocks as we slipshod on down.  Finally the trail normalized to the steady downward plod while muscles in our legs began to feel the burn of holding back our momentum.  Round a bend here and there, we caught glimpses of the parking lot.  It was getting closer, wasn’t it? 

With a sigh, we gathered into the car after nearly four miles and almost 1000 vertical feet of hiking.  Red dirt stained our feet and legs with rivulets of sweat creating designs not unlike the waterfalls we had seen earlier in the day.  We headed back to our place for well-deserved showers and rest.