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Nounou Mountain

Nounou Forest Reserve

July 9th, 2012

3.5 miles
1160 vertical feet
Total Time: 3:03

Starting elevation
196 feet
Max elevation
1161 feet

Rating: 7/10

Directions: From Kapa'a, drive south along the highway. Turn right onto Haleilio Road. Follow it past homes for about a mile, then park in the dirt parking lot on the right as the road starts to curve left.   View Driving Map

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GPX File

We arrived at the trailhead for the Nounou Mountain Trail East at around 11am; there were about a half dozen cars already in the small parking lot (no restrooms or water available here). We had lunch in the car and then prepped, getting started around noon. Some people would probably recommend doing this hike in the morning to avoid the afternoon heat, but it was raining earlier so we did at least avoid that.

The trail starts climbing immediately through the forest. There are signs every quarter mile telling you how far you've gone. Though there is some shade, it was still hot and humid. After about a half mile, views opened up and we could see Kapa'a below, and the Pacific Ocean beyond it. Between the half mile and 0.75 mile marker, the trail actually begins to descend briefly. Before the 0.75 mile marker, though, it starts climbing again.

Starting out on the trail

View of Kapa'a and Wailua

The trail twists and turns, switchbacking up the mountain. Eventually you're on the other side of the mountain from where the parking lot is, providing a different view of Kapa'a and the inland mountains.

About 1.25 to 1.5 miles in were the best views, great views looking east across Kapa'a and the inland mountains. We overlooked a nice looking tree, the same species we'd seen on the drive to Ke'e Beach the day before.

View of the mountains to the north

Another view of the mountains to the north, more inland

By this time the heat and humidity was taking its toll, and we were glad that the "top" included a picnic shelter with a full shade. 4 picnic tables were packed together under a metal roof. There's also a bench nearby with a great view of Kapa'a. This area has a flat grassy area bordered by trees and bushes. The best views are from the edges. I say "top" because it's not the true summit. For that, there's a path (probably not an official trail) that leads even higher. I'd read that the path is a bit dangerous and those with a fear of heights probably shouldn't try it. I have a healthy fear of heights, as well as 2 young boys on the hike with me, so we never had any thought of going any further.

View of Kapa'a from the picnic shelter saddle


We did see a few people head up onto that path, but others were content to stay at the picnic shelter like us. After a snack break, we started our descent. It was still hot, but as we descended lower the clouds started to move in and a cool light breeze began to blow.

Top of Nounou Mountain (hard to tell from this picture, but there are people on top)

Heading back down toward Kapa'a

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