Hiking in Molokai is an awesome experience. There are numerous hiking trails that range in terrains, vegetation and difficulty. Remember Molokai is very isolated with few tourists. As you may be the only one on the trail, please be sure to let people know where you are going to be hiking and how long you will be gone.
Although you have lots of choices when hiking in Molokai, there are three really great choices.
1. Pepeopae Trail
Pepeopae Trail is located about 20 miles from the main town of Kaunakakai and can only be reached by a four wheel drive vehicle. You will follow Hwy 460 west for just over 3 miles and turn right on the unmarked forest reserve road. (Note: If you cross Mauhawainui bridge, you have gone too far.) At the end of the paved road, you will continue on a dirt road until you reach Molokai Forest Reserve. Continue for 14 miles until you reach the trailhead. Pepeopae trail is an eerie trail that will make you feel like you are in Jurrasic park. The trail is a one and a half mile board-walk built by volunteers to protect this natural bog. Stay on the board-walk, or you will sink into the ooze. The clouds and mist along the trail make it eerie. Throughout the bog you will spot lichens, mosses, ohias and violets that are native to this area. This is an easy 3 mile hike and no permits are required. The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii offers a guided hike. Their phone number is: (808) 553-5236.
When hiking in Molokai, Kalaupapa should not be missed. This hike is about 2.5 miles downhill (actually downstairs). You will descend from approximately 2,000 feet to sea level. (just remember that you will have to climb back up the stairs.) When on this hike, stop frequently to take in the breathtaking views. You will follow the switchback trail all the way down to Molokai’s infamous leper colony where a handfull of people still live with Hanson’s disease (leprosy). When you arrive in Kalaupapa, you will be amazed at how scenic, serene and peaceful it is. Learn the story of Kalaupapa and Father Damien at the Kalaupapa National Historic Park before hiking back up. The trailhead starts just past the mule barn and you must arrive by 7:30 in order to obtain a permit. (State law forbids anybody under 16 years of age from entering the leper colony).
3. Halawa Valley
If you are hiking in Molokai and want to see what Hawaii looked like thousands of years ago, this is the perfect hike for you. If you are flying into Molokai for the day, Halawa valley is about a one and a half hour drive from the airport. Halawa Valley is a lush, tropical valley surrounded by towering cathedral-like cliffs. This valley is considered one of the most historic spots on Molokai. Polynesians settled in this valley in the mid 600’s AD. The valley is one half mile wide and three to four miles deep. There are hidden Heiaus (temples) throughout the valley as well as many waterfalls. One of the most impressive waterfalls is the two tiered 250 foot Mooula Falls. Mooula Falls is located a little over two miles from the trailhead. Legend has it, there is a giant Moo (lizard) that lives at the bottom of the pool at the base of the waterfall. If you want to take a dip in the pool, you must first throw a ti leaf into the pool. It the leaf floats, the lizard will allow you to enter. If it sinks, the lizard is angry and you should stay out of the water. This valley is home to more than 250 rare Hawaiian plants that are found nowhere else on earth. It is also home to two varieties of birds that are almost extinct. (The Kawawahie also known as the Molokai creeper and the Olomao also known as the Molokai thrush). This moderate hike is very beautiful and a photographer’s paradise. You can arrange a guided hike through the valley at the concierge desk at most hotels.
Whatever hike you decide, remember to be safe and let somebody know where you are hiking on Molokai and have fun.
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