Backpacking Guide

Backpacking in Hawaii
james campbell national wildlife refuge

There are a limited number of places to backpack in the Hawaiian Islands. Some islands that don't have that feature simply because the size of the wildernesses or State Parks area is just too small. One thing to be aware of is to not be fooled into an easy and carefree trip into the backcountry of the Islands. There are many hidden danger; there are fierce undertows and riptides, toxic fumes from advancing lava flows, and extremely sharp lava rock that covers the entire islands. Remember, getting there is optional, coming back out is not.

In Na Pali Coast on Kaua'i there is a place with magnificently lush and rugged terrain that makes it the biggest highlight of any trip to the park for backpackers. The site includes tall sea cliffs, lush forested valleys and several waterfalls. The region is secluded wilderness with a few trails making it accessible to a select group of experienced hikers.

Koke'e on Kaua'i encompasses 4,345 acres in Kaua'i's northwest interior. A good place to orient yourself to the park and its facilities is the Kokee Museum. There are two overlooks, Kalalau and Puu O Kila Lookouts, above the Kalalau Valley. (From the later, the Na Pali Coast is visible.) The state maintains a number of trails into the Kalalau Valley, both challenging and easy trails can be found. The trails lead into the rain forest and Alakai Swamp of the Kaua'i highlands.

Haleakala National Park on Maui includes 28,655 acres, 19,270 of which are designated wilderness. The area preserves the outstanding features of Haleakala Crater on the island of Maui, which include the unique and fragile ecosystems of Kipahulu Valley, the scenic pools along Ohe'o Gulch and many rare and endangered animal species.

Napau Trail on the Big Island of Hawaii, begins on Chain of Craters Road at Mauna Ulu parking lot. It leads into backcountry and eastward to the East Rift Zone. Along the seven miles to the trail end visitors will pass a multitude of formations including: pahoehoe lava flows, rain forest, Pu'u Huluhulu Crater, Mauna Ulu Crater and Makaopuhi Crater. Visitors will also enjoy views of Napau Crater and Pu'u 'O'o Vent along this trail. Bring water and food, as well as rain and wind gear. Registration, at Kilauea Visitor Center, is required for day hikers who intend to walk beyond Pu'u Huluhulu.

The Hawaiian Islands contain some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Outdoor adventures on these island can be as short as a few hours or last several days and nights. Because the islands formed, and continue to grow, through volcanic activity they harbor many plant and animal species that don't exist anywhere else in the world. Each island supports many miles of beautiful public beaches. The island of Kauai is the farthest north in the chain, which makes it slightly cooler than the others. Much of Kauai's northwestern coast and interior is maintained as forest preserves and state parks.

The largest city on the island of Maui is Kahului on the northern shore. Lahaina on the western shore is a historic whaling port and historic district. Between these two communities lies The West Maui Forest Reserve. The eastern side of the island contains Koolau Forest Reserve, Haleakala National Park and Kahikinui Forest Reserve.

The Big Island of Hawaii is twice as large as the other islands combined. Hilo is the largest community on the island and lies on its eastern shore. The southern area of the island contains the natural areas of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kau Forest Reserve, Mauna Loa Forest Reserve, Hilo Forest Reserve and Upper Waiakea Forest Reserve. The western shore of the state supports many small communities and three Historic Sites.

With all the backpacking opportunities available, there are also some other recreational opportunities to consider; Camping, fishing, biking and spending time on the beaches are some local favorite things to do.

National Wildlife Refuges National Parks The Islands
Hakalau Forest Wildlife Refuge
Kealia Pond Wildlife Refuge
Kakahaia Wildlife Refuge
James C. Campbell Wildlife Refuge
Pearl Harbor Wildlife Refuge
Hanalei Wildlife Refuge
Kilauea Point Wildlife Refuge
Hawaii Volcanoes
USS Arizona Memorial


Hawaii State Parks:
Akaka Falls
Hapuna Beach Rec Area
Kalopa Rec Area
Kealakekua Bay
Kekaha Kai (Kona Coast)
Kohala Historical Sites Monument
Lava Tree Monument
MacKenzie Rec Area
Manuka Wayside
Mauna Kea Rec Area
Old Kona Airport Rec Area
Wailoa River Rec Area
Wailuku River
Maui State Parks
Haleki'i-Pihana Heiau Monument
Iao Valley
Kaumahina Wayside
Polipoli Spring Rec Area
Pua'a Ka'a Wayside
Wailua Valley Wayside
Molokai State Parks
Oahu State Parks
Aiea Bay Recreation Area
Diamond Head Monument
Hanauma Bay Underwater Park
Iolani Palace Monument
Ka'ena Point
Kahana Valley
Kaka'ako Waterfront
Keaiwa Heiau Recreation Area
Kewalo Basin
Kukaniloko Birthstones Monument
La'ie Point Wayside
Makapu'u Point Wayside
Malaekahana Recreation Area
Nu'uanu Pali Wayside
Pu'u Mahuka Heiau Monument
Pu'u Ualaka'a Wayside
Royal Mausoleum Monument
Sacred Falls
Sand Island Rec Area
Ulupo Heiau Monument
Wa'ahila Ridge Rec Area
Wahiawa Freshwater Rec Area
Kaua'i State Parks
Ahukini Rec Pier
Na Pali Coast
Russian Fort Elizabeth
Wailua River
Waimea Canyon
Waimea Recreation Pier

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