Meandering in Kaua’i on a Cross Bike

All things considered, negotiating a bike as a piece of important luggage on a ‘vacation’ isn’t easy. The past few times we’ve gone to visit Lauren’s parents on Kaua’i, Hawaii, I’ve been so bummed to not have a bike with me.

Not that Kaua’i is a cycling destination, moreso because everything we’ve hiked here is totally bike friendly, aside from a few hike-a-bike moments up some mangrove forest or down a waterfall.

After taking two weeks off four our road trip, Lauren agreed to let me bring my cross bike. I argued that it’d offer me two or so hours a day of fitness, thus making me less restless during all the family time outings. Remember, Hawaii means ‘chill’ and sitting still is something I’ve programmed out of my daily repertoire. Must. Keep. Moving.


Since we’re staying on the North Shore, I spent a few hours navigating Google Earth, looking for anything that resembled a pig, jeep, or hiking trail. Powerline Trail is an obvious candidate, but this time of year, it’s so overgrown and swampy that it’s not worth bushwacking for miles.

Knowing this, the other morning I still tried accessing it from the northern trail head. No dice. So on Friday, I made a quick route, starting at the Kapaa Middle School, up and over to the Moalepe trail and down the Kuilau hiking trail / fire road.


The riding here is best described as moist and slick. Luckily, any rain quickly drains and my WTB 40c Nano tires made minced meat of the roots and rocks. Bunnyhopping the lower gate at the end of the trail was the finale I needed before hitting the brat of a wall leading into the Powerline Trail.

Let me preface this by pointing out that there is absolutely nothing that can kill you in Hawaii. No snakes, no cats, no ticks, no leeches, no poisonous or venomous anything. Save for hog hunters and their dogs. Especially after they’d killed two cases of beer in their pickup trucks. In fact, that’s probably all these swollen locals kill…


When I rounded a corner and encountered two of these swarthy drunks – more importantly, their dogs – it was made apparent I wasn’t welcomed, so I turned around and descended back down to the middle school.

This ride is super chill, but resembles more of a MTB ride than a road ride – leading into the rationale that MTB rides can be much shorter than a road ride and still leave your legs burning. 20 miles and 2,100 feet of muddy fun – update: yesterday, I rode with some locals and we mixed in some more miles.

Nothing a nice glass of bourbon and a Ahi fish taco can’t subside.

  • Tyler Howarth

    I hope you swung by Bubba’s Burgers

    • that place is the worst! haha. so gross. Monico’s Taqueria is the jam!

    • Bubba’s is pretty terrible.

      Mark’s Place is the spot for plate lunch.

  • Chris van der Kaap

    great shoot, great colours and great trail. tnx, John. Can’t wait for my Kona, Hawaii Mauna Loa adventure.

  • Tom

    Looks so peaceful.

  • Jamie McKeon

    does look like Oz

    • That’s what I thought @jamiemckeon:disqus

  • Needs more Dinasaur.

    • Tom

      Cue Jurassic Park theme.

      • Adam Miller

        You’re in bad shape when the drunken hog hunters learn how to open doors …

  • Erik

    I’m headed to Kaua’i to honeymoon in two weeks! No bikes on board, but do you have some other suggestions on where to get one for a day or two? Or other great local spots not to miss? Thanks for the photos, can’t wait to get out there!

    • Go to “secret beach”, the Blue Hole, Napoli Coast, Kaua’i Cycles (buy a shirt!) and you can hike Powerline trail. Just be prepared for a long day!

      • Erik

        Nice! Thanks dude!

  • brieboyg

    I went to kaua’i in February 2012 for the first time and was amazed by the place. wish I had my bike with me but the hiking (sleeping giant trail and others) and surfing made up for it. can’t wait to go back. great ride photos!

  • Bayo30

    the WTB nano seems to be able to ride everywhere ! I’ve got mine and the ride perfeclty on every ground I put them on !

  • cork grips

    that switchback(8) really makes me feel things.

  • Peter Ryan Amend

    Awesome report, John! What trail camera are you packing with you on your rides?

  • mattprovidence

    Man, I love Kauai and spend a fair amount of time there, but have yet to bring a bike. Between all the lost, elderly tourists driving PT cruiser rentals, questionably sober boar hunters, and hairball shoulders, I stay out of the saddle. Maybe I’ll bring a cross bike next time! Head south and hit Savage Shrimp and the Koloa Fish Market!

  • Patrick Estrella

    Great report John, really makes me miss it.