With near-perfect summer weather year-round, there’s nowhere better to lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails than the breathtaking Hawaiian Islands. Sometimes, though, you want something a little bit different. It’s not that you’re tired of the constant waterfall hikes and coastal trails, but sometimes it’s cool to experience another aspect of Hawaii. From a hike through a ravishing redwood forest to a trail leading through a volcanic crater, these 10 Hawaiian hikes just might make you forget that you’re on a tropical island.
1. Kilauea Iki Trail, Hawaii Island
This four-mile loop trail, which is the remains of a massive 1959 eruption, is wildly popular among Volcanoes National Park visitors. The trail – which takes hikers through lush rainforests, near active steam and sulfur vents, and across a solidified lava lake – was voted as the Big Island’s favorite scenic hiking trail by Hawaii Magazine.
2. Redwood Forest, Maui
Located approximately 7,000 feet above sea level in Polipoli State Park is this forest is populated by redwood trees that were brought to Hawaii in the 1920s to re-establish the watershed. The popular Redwood Trail is 1.7 miles, and guides hikers through a forest of baby Redwood trees, and is the access point for many other trails.
3. Waimea Canyon Trail, Kauai
This 3.4-mile hike begins off the short Cliff trail, following the northern rim of Waimea Canyon. At the halfway point, you will encounter Waipo’o Falls, the perfect place to stop and enjoy a picnic lunch. The trail ends at the awe-inspiring Kumuwela Lookout, with sweeping views of Waimea Canyon and the Pacific Ocean.
4. Hau’ula Trail, Oahu
Located near Laie on Oahu’s northeastern shore is the Hau’ula Loop Trail, a 2.5-mile hike that traverses through a lush jungle, and features a hidden waterfall. The trail can get muddy, but is lightly trafficked and at just more than 700 feet in elevation gain, is suitable for hikers of all skill levels.
5. Lake Waiau, Hawaii Island
Located at 13,000 feet above sea level on the Big Island’s Mauna Kea, Lake Waiau is arguably one of the highest lakes in all of the United States. However, it is also relatively small, measuring in at just about 100 meters across. To reach this sacred lake, visitors will have to take a short, one-mile walk, found near Mauna Kea’s astronomy domes.
6. Sliding Sands Trail, Maui
Located within Maui’s Haleakala National Park at nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, the Keoneheehee Trail, also known as Sliding Sands, is definitely not easy, but the landscapes you’ll find here will make you feel as though you’ve been transported to another planet. The Sliding Sands trail begins at the parking lot and loops around the White Hill before heading down into the crater, where you’ll find absolutely unbelievable views. You’ll feel as though you are on the surface of the moon - or maybe even Mars - as you traverse this winding path around the vast red and orange hills and cinder cones.
7. Alakai Swamp Trail, Kauai
Nestled in the heart of Koke’e State Park, just north of Waimea Canyon, is the Alakai Swamp, a truly one-of-a-kind Hawaiian landscape. The Alakai Swamp Trail is approximately seven miles round trip, and takes you on a journey through lush forests and ethereal swamplands. Most people start the trail at the Pu’u o Kila Lookout, meander along the Pihea Summit Trail, and traverse approximately 3.5 miles of boardwalk through a unique wet forest, and a boggy swamp.
8. Koko Crater Botanical Garden, Oahu
Cacti and Hawaii aren't necessarily synonymous, are they? A 60-acre garden within the Koko Crater, this botanical garden is also known as the Charles M. Wills Cactus Garden – a name that suits the hot, dry climate and the flora that are able to thrive in this environment.The lightly trafficked loop trail within the garden is far easier than the nearby Koko Head Stairs: the trail is 1.9 miles and gains only 337 feet in elevation throughout the trek.
9. Ha’akulamanu Trail, Hawaii Island
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to more than 150 miles of hiking trails, from easy walks to hikes recommended only for experienced hikers in top physical shape. This 1.2 mile hiking trail leads adventurers through sulphur banks along a paved boardwalk, where steaming vents, colorful mineral deposits abound.
10. Waihou Spring Trail Loop, Maui
This trail, located in Upcountry Maui at the end of Piiholo Road, leads hikers through a Cypress, Eucalyptus, native Hawaiian Koa and Halapepe forest. The upper trail is perfect for families, while the lower trail is reserved for more experienced hikers.
What is your favorite unexpected hike found across the Hawaiian Islands? Hikers and outdoor lovers will enjoy seeing how many trails from the
ultimate Hawaii hiking bucket list they have completed.