Kauai's Canyons. Waimea, Olokele, Loli Waialae, Koaie, Poomau, Iliiliula, more.

The Loli River Gorge. Short but Sweet.

I lack the skills to do justice to the magnificence of the Canyons of Kauai but I'll do my best. Kauai's Canyons top all I've seen with the possible exception of Zion National Park. The Grand Canyon falls short. All subjective opinion of course.

The source of the Loli River is the Loli Bog just below where the Old Waialeale Trail makes it's turn to the east after climbing out of the Waialae Stream Gorge. It gradually descends as it heads southwest, passing north of Kaholuamanu and crossing the Waialae Trail as it descends toward Waimea.

It cascades through Nawaimaka Valley, home to several endangered plant species, before it turns south and waterfalls steeply into Loli Gorge. Only about half a mile long, Loli Gorge joins Waialae stream about a third of a mile upstream from Poachers Camp.

Although called a river, the Loli is much smaller than Waialae Stream and since it drains a much dryer area, it probably drops to very low flow levels. Like all streams on Kauai, it is subject to flash flooding.

Loli River cascades through Nawaimaka Valley
Just right of Waialae Falls, the Loli River cascades through Nawaimaka Valley. View from Kukui Trailhead.
Loli River Waterfalls at the top of Loli Gorge
Loli River Falls at the top of Loli Gorge.

In May, we continued exploring Waimea Canyon. The weather was excellent and the stream flows for the most part, were very low. We began with a dayhike. If you hike up Waialae Gorge off Waimea Canyon, it's easy to overlook a gem, the bottom slot canyon of the Loli River.

The Loli river drains Loli Bog far to the east just south of the old Waialeale Trail. As you descend from Waialae Camp on the trail to Waimea, you cross the Loli near Kaholuamanu Cabin before it plunges into Waimea Canyon.

If you study your topo, on the way up Waialae Canyon from the Waimea River, a short distance above Poacher's Camp. It's on the south side of Waialae Stream, and you can spot the Loli cutting across a terrace looking almost like a subway tunnel under a canopy of Kukui(candle nut) trees. There's no hint of the wonders upstream.

Loli River Waterfalls at the top of Loli Gorge

Unlike many of Kauai's gorges, the Loli happens quick. Maybe only a third of a mile in, you're waterfalled and cliffed out (at least this hiker was.)

Being in the "Dry Zone," the canyon is unlike the entrance to Sacred Falls or Ma'akua Gulch. You'll cross some level sections covered with a thick layer of Kukui nuts before the boulder hopping starts. But the boulders (assuming it's not raining in which case you best turn around and leave. Quick!) aren't slippery. As canyon trekking goes, the Loli's streambed is a stroll.

In several spots, the stream flows through boulder caves under condo sized rocks, then widens out until it finally narrows. As in all Hawaiian streams, there are ample signs of destructive high water. A calm canyon, that can turn violent.

Dry, clean boulder hopping.

Looking downstream with K-Ridge in the background. Harsh sunshine is typical in the canyon as are mosquitoes. Sunscreen and DEET up.


Good place for a helmet.
The first neat cave. This one, I walked through.

I went around this cave/waterfall although I suppose it wasn't necessary, just easier.

Above the caves, you enter some serious narrows (Gotta work on the high contrast photography).

After you enter the final short slot, all too soon, you go around a corner and spot a waterfall ahead.

The Loli leaps off a lava ledge into a wonderful pool. Through the slot above, you can just glimpse another falls (of many no doubt) in a narrow but wider canyon.

Here I blew a chance for a product placement with my new Petzl Helmet. As I would discover, a brain bucket was prudent. As I enjoyed the view, "Crack!" a rock exploded into a puff of dust a few yards away.

The waterfall is only about 25 feet, but the alcove is overhanging, beyond my ability to go further. Near noon, the sunlight into the water gave the alcove a warm glow.

One last look before the long trudge out.

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