Sunday, February 26, 2012

Iliau Nature Loop

One of the hikes that Ashley and I had the opportunity to hike while we were on our honeymoon in Kauai was the Iliau Nature Loop by Waimea Canyon.  This is a short, self guided path around a flat clearing on the dry western slope of Waimea Canyon. In addition to views of Waimea Canyon, this hike also offers great views of Waialae Falls which can be seen plunging off the cliffs across the gorge.

Directions to Trailhead: From the junction of Waimea Canyon Drive and Kokee Road in Waimea Canyon drive north 1.8 miles to the signed trailhead on the right between mile markers 8 and 9. There is a parking pullout on the left side of the road, directly across from the trailhead. Make sure to drive slow between mile markers 8 and 9 as it is easy to miss this trailhead. There is no cost to park at the trailhead.

Description of Hike: This is a dirt trail that was in good condition when we hiked it. The total loop roundtrip is 0.3 miles with less than 50 feet of elevation gain. From the trailhead, follow the trail to the right towards the edge of the canyon and a junction. The right fork descends into Waimea Canyon. Take the left fork on the Iliau Nature Loop, winding counterclockwise along the flat rim of the canyon. As the trail loops along the canyon rim, there are various vistas into and across Waimea Canyon. At a trail split, the right fork leads to an overlook and bench. The left fork curves back, returning to the trailhead.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I enjoyed this hike, even though it was short it packed a punch. It is a good hiking option if it is raining in Waimea Canyon or if you only planned a little bit of time to hike while visiting Waimea Canyon. You will likely see other people on this trail, as we saw several other couples while we were on our hike. There are many informative plaques along the trail which are fun to read. It is a great way to learn about local Hawaiian plant life. But the best part of the hike is the view of Waimea Canyon. Here is a little more information about Waimea Canyon from Wikipedia:

Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, is a large canyon, approximately ten miles long and up to 3,000 feet deep, located on the western side of Kauai. The canyon was formed by a deep incision of the Waimea River arising from the extreme rainfall on the island's central peak, Mount Waiʻaleʻale, which is among the wettest places on earth.

The canyon has a unique geologic history, it was formed not only by the steady process of erosion, but also by a catastrophic collapse of the volcano that created Kauai. Like the other Hawaiian islands, Kauai is the top of an enormous volcano rising from the ocean floor. With lava flows dated to about 5 million years ago, Kauai is the oldest of the large Hawaiian islands. Roughly 4 million years ago, while Kauai was still erupting almost continuously, a portion of the island collapsed. This collapse formed a depression, which then filled with lava flows.

In the time since, rainwater from the slopes of Mount Waiʻaleʻale have eroded Waimea Canyon along one edge of the collapse. The cliffs on the west side of the canyon are composed of thin lava flows that ran down the surface of the Kauai volcano. On the other side of the canyon, the cliff walls are built from thick lava flows that pooled in the depression. Over time, the exposed basalt has weathered from its original black to bright red, which is the color that you see today in the canyon.

Rating: Elevation Gain: Less than 50 ft. (Very Easy), Distance: 0.3 Miles Roundtrip (Very Easy).

Time to Complete hike: 15 - 20 minutes.

MORE TRAIL WRITE-UPS ON THE ISLAND OF KAUAI


Iliau Nature Loop (This Post)



View Iliau Nature Loop Waimea Canyon in a larger map

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Ashley and I encourage and welcome our readers to submit comments about their experiences on the trails we have posted on our blog or about their own hiking experiences in general.