Kokee State Park Nature Trail: Where Plants Come to Life

Experience the living classroom of the Kokee State Park Nature Trail, where plants come to life.

Difficulty: Easy
Kokee State Park
.10 miles
Map: Google Maps

Located behind the Kokee Lodge and Kokee Museum, the Kokee State Park Nature Trail offers visitors a brief stroll that showcases the unique plant life that can be found in the area. The interpretive trail is especially recommended for individuals with an interest in plants, trees and nature.

Kokee State Park Nature Trail

The trail is a short loop on the edge of a forest that takes visitors about five minutes to complete. Interpretive signs along the trail highlight various plants and trees that can be found in the state park.

A welcome sign near the entrance has a map of the trail along with plants and trees to look for on the trail and in Kokee State Park.

The ʻŌhiʻa Lehua tree is the backbone of the Hawaiian rain forest, reads this interpretative display on the nature trail. The trees are known for their colorful red and orange flowers. The wood is very hard and was used by ancient Hawaiians for making spears, idols, tools and posts for house framing. Unfortunately, the trees are being threatened by Rapid Ohia Death (ROD), a fungal disease that clogs the trees’ vascular system and often leads to quick deaths.

Ahakea trees are smaller trees that can grow up to 30 feet. Well-suited for the Kokee area, this rarer tree grows in dry to damp forests primarily at elevations between 1,000 and 2,000 feet.

The entire trail is within sight of the Kokee Lodge and Kokee Museum area.

Laka’s Realm

Sign near the entrance to the Kokee State Park Nature Trail reminds visitors about the sacred nature of the forest.

Laka, the goddess of Hula, is also the goddess of the forest. She has reproductive energy that allows plants to grow and thrive, according to Hawaiian tradition and mythology. It is often customary for Hawaiians to ask permission to Laka before entering a forest or picking plants. Perhaps you will ask permission before entering her realm.

Respect the Nature Trail

Visitors are urged to respect the nature trail (and the sacred nature of the forest) by not littering, by not picking plants and by remaining on the trail. Visitors are encouraged to uphold these rules on trails throughout Kokee and beyond.

While you’re in the area, be sure to stop in the Kokee Lodge for food, refreshments and souvenirs, and the Kokee Museum for a wealth of information about the area’s flora, fauna, history, trails and more. Nearby are some of Kauai’s most spectacular attractions including the Kalalau Lookout and Waimea Canyon, and some of the island’s best trails including the Awaawapuhi Trail and the Alakai Swamp Trail.

Overall, the Kokee State Park Nature Trail is an interesting destination for nature enthusiasts and a unique opportunity to learn about Kokee’s plant life while fostering a deep sense of respect for the natural attributes of the area. Information gleaned from the trail will help visitors to identify plants and trees found in Kokee State Park and to support preservation and conservation efforts in the area. Each step on the trail unveils a new plant or tree, offering valuable insights into the delicate balance of nature. By learning about the plants, their ecological roles, and their cultural significance, we gain a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of all living things.

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