KŌKE‘E STATE PARK , located at the very top of the island, is defined by its sprawling 4,345-acre upland forest, intersected by 45 miles of HIKING TRAILS and popularized by its SCENIC, CLIFFSIDE VISTAS. The forest is home to native vegetation and birds. Daytime temperatures vary from an average of 45 degrees Fahrenheit in January, to 68 degrees in July.
There are trails — some of them spiked with perilous sections — that lead to WAIMEA CANYON. Others, with varying difficulty levels, wind through the forest. Families can venture to WAIPO‘O FALLS, a 3.6-mile hike from Highway 550 along CANYON TRAIL, while more-adventurous hikers can choose the AWA‘AWAPUHI or NU‘ALOLO LOOP hikes, which are more strenuous and offer views of NĀPALI COAST.
Another of the park’s features is the 15-acre ALAKA‘I SWAMP , really a mountain rainforest rising 4,000- 4,500 feet above sea level that has been around for 5 million years. A network of soggy bogs covered by a forest of dwarfish trees, the swamp can be hiked via a boardwalk — but be prepared to get muddy.
If you don’t have time for a hike, the park also offers several lookouts along the road that boast stunning views and information boards. One such stop is KALALAU LOOKOUT , popular for its stunning view overlooking KALALAU VALLEY . During the summer months, the park offers guided “ WONDER WALKS .” For more information about trails and guided hikes, stop at KŌKE‘E MUSEUM , pick up a map, and chat with the staff about trail conditions.
Each fall, the state park is the site of the EO E EMALANI I ALAKA‘I , or EMALANI FESTIVAL . Presented by HUI O LAKA , this event — that’s usually staged at Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow, but will be held virtually this year — commemorates Queen Emma’s journey to Kōke‘e.
Camping is allowed in the park, with permits available at the State Building in Līhu‘e. You can also reserve rustic cabins in advance by calling 808-335-9975.
To get to the park, drive up the coast on Highway 50 from Kekaha, about 3 miles to the west of the town of Waimea. For more information, go to kokee.org.
KŌKE‘E LODGE 808-335-6061