If you are looking for some hiking in Kauai that will give you impressive views yet not take the entire day to complete, then hiking Sleeping Giant Kauai mountain trail just might be the perfect option. This 2-mile journey climbs steadily toward the summit, traversing through the forest for roughly an hour until reaching the top.
The Hawaiian name for Sleeping Giant mountain is Nounou, and some guidebooks and maps refer to it as this. But most people, locals included, usually call it “Sleeping Giant” and it is easy to see why. From nearly every angle the mountain’s profile looks like someone laying down on their back, with the summit being the “giant’s” forehead.
While the trail is not an easy walk in the park, it is very doable by most able-bodied individuals, and provides a great medley for hiking in Kauai – beautiful views, lush green flora, and a high elevation change. Families of all ages routinely hike this trail, so if you have children that enjoy being active, they should have no problem with the trail.
Along the way are bushes with strawberry guava ripe for the picking (depending on the season). These small red fruits are a welcome sweet treat along the trail and are perfectly fine to eat. Watch out for worms, though, as they enjoy eating these fruits as much as people do – possibly even more!
When you nearly reach the summit you will find a clearing. This is a perfect place to have a picnic and relax for a bit before making the final ascent. It also marks a good turnaround point if you are worried about your footing – the trail after this point is quite steep and uneven, with long drops on either side of you. But the grassy area and picnic tables provide an ideal location to relax for a bit and contemplate reaching the summit.
At the summit you will be treated with amazing views of the Pacific ocean on one side, and the center of Kauai and Mt. Waielale on the other. To the north is Kalalea (King Kong) mountain in Anahola, and the southern view is marked by Haupu Peak and the range that separates the south side of the island from Lihue.
To sum it up: The Sleeping Giant Kauai Trail is certainly not the most difficult hiking trail on the island, but provides an adequate challenge that will give you a great workout with rewarding views. This trail is a great way to see the east side of Kauai all at once. If you are very ambitious you may want to try hiking this trail before sunrise to catch an unforgettable view of the sun coming up over the ocean.
How to get Here: From Kuhio Highway, turn at the Shell Station at Wailua on Haleilio Rd. Turn left at the fork to follow Nounou Rd. Follow Nounou rd. for a bit until you see a parking lot. Park at the parking lot and begin the trek from there!