January 26, 2003
A reassuring thing about the Powerline Trail is that it’s virtually impossible to get lost, as it’s basically a utility company service road. You just follow--you guessed it--the power lines. These are hardly scenic, but a hiker can’t complain too much, considering that the track, which follows an ancient route, has been considerably improved. It’s a straightforward way to explore Kauai’s seldom-visited interior, offering wide vistas of lush mountain ridges and valleys.
It’s easy to find the northern trailhead. Just south of Princeville, keep an eye out for the sign for the Princeville Ranch Stables. This is Po’oku Road. The trail starts about 2 miles down this road, near an easily spotted water tank.
About half a mile along the trail, there’s a picture-postcard view off to the right of lovely Hanalei Valley. Another half mile or so along, look for waterfalls, which vary according to rainfall. Heading further south, on the right is the lush Hanalei Forest Reserve and to the left, Moloa’a Forest Reserve.
In contrast to the more popular coastal routes, hikers on the Powerline Trail practically have the place to themselves. It is used primarily by mountain bikers (a lone biker was the only person we encountered) and hunters (wear bright clothing if that fact makes you nervous).
I believe I may have annoyed my husband and a friend along the hike, for I kept stopping to examine plants or spot birds, whose astonishingly varied songs were too often drowned out by the intrusive whomp, whomp, whomp of helicopters flying from Princeville Airport on sightseeing trips - viewing Kaua'i from the air is becoming increasingly popular. Unlike the helicopter passengers viewing panoramas from the heights, however, my object was to examine things close at hand.
This exercise in micro-tourism paid off, as there are a number of species of lovely wild orchids along the trail, not to mention an array of birds, insects, and plants. My field guides got a thorough workout. Every few paces, it seemed, there was some new facet of nature worth exploring. Really, I think the rewards of going distances and viewing expanses fall short of the simple pleasure of pausing to see exactly what color a dragonfly’s wings are.
From journal Hanalei, Hana Hou!