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On my recent trip to Kauai, Hawaii, I wanted to do some trail running. My daughter and husband found the Nounou east trail on the Sleeping Giant Mountain. While I would have liked a longer trail, I still loved the Nounou trail.
The first part of the trail consists of several switchbacks under a canopy of trees. At about .75 miles, the trail gains elevation.
For those who prefer trail running over hiking, it’s perfect for both. The trail is well marked. Always follow the bigger trail, staying off of the smaller side trails. I made the mistake of getting off trail after my husband told me to veer left at the fork and since he didn’t wait for me, I had no idea where he was talking about. The trail is easy to follow without bad directions so I shouldn’t have had the veer left in my head. I ended up climbing up a rock face that was not part of the main trail. I decided it was safer to bush whack back to the trail than to climb down the wall again. I eventually made it back to the main trail and ignored any directional advice after that.
The trail offers stunning views of Kapaa and Waipouli in various places. A picnic area sits near the top in what is referred to as the giant’s chest.
Some of the guides we read said the next part of the hike was treacherous and could result in death. We forged ahead anyway as the trail didn’t look bad and we are experienced hikers. There are a few steep rock scrambles that may be more treacherous if wet but didn’t seem too difficult. I would not recommend this part of the hike for those with poor balance or young children but we handled it well.
The views from the top are amazing. I love the ocean views since I can’t get those at home.
Besides the rock scrambles, I ran the majority of the trail down. It took me a little over an hour round trip but might take up to 2-2 1/2 hours, depending on experience and activity level.
Be sure to wear proper footwear and bring plenty of water. Depending on the time of year, it can get hot.
Take the Kuhio Highway to Haleilio Road. Take the road toward the mountains. Drive about a mile through the neighborhood in Wailua. Just past a telephone pole to the left is a small parking area with the trailhead marking. The trail can be tricky to find so best to use phone navigation.