Kauai’s Sleeping Giant is no yawner
The signature landmark on Kauai’s Coconut Coast (the east shore) is Nounou Mountain, known as the ‘Sleeping Giant,’ since its ridge looks like the face of a rather large warrior in repose. Hikers have a choice of three trailheads. All routes cover three-plus miles round-trip and climb just over 1,000 feet before converging below the giant’s ‘forehead.’
Lower elevations of the trail penetrate a diverse forest reserve. Common along the trail is the pandanus tree, whose long pointed leaves were (are) used to make baskets, hats, and footwear. The exposed root spokes of the pandanus actually allow it to slowly move toward water sources.
The east side trail affords sea views all the way, but also is exposed to the sun, which can be a bad thing.
Nounou is a stand-alone peak near the coast—larger peaks rise inland. From the summit are circular views.
One portion of the trail is steep, requiring use of all four limbs, though it is not dangerous for the careful hiker. What is dangerous is the walk out to the giant’s chinny chin-chin (above), where one slip leads to a free fall.
Nounou Mountain is a ridge cleaved by the Wailua River by far Hawaii’s largest waterway. This agricultural heaven was chosen as the major settlement by Hawaii’s first Ali’i (royalty). They built seven heiau’s (temples) from the coast inland, extending to the base of Mount Waialeale, the wettest spot on earth with about forty feet (yes, feet) or rain per year.
Kauai Trailblazer has the details on all three Sleeping Giant trailheads, as well as many other trails on the Coconut Coast.