The Munro Trail is a scenic, moderately challenging and sometimes wet hike through the Koele uplands on the island of Lana'i. On a recent visit, we hiked part of the Munro Trail to Koloiki Ridge, around five miles round-trip and taking about three hours to complete.
The hike begins just behind the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele. Follow the orange posts to Marker 6 at the cemetery. To the right is the entrance to the Munro Trail. Beware of passing vehicles, as this is a surprisingly busy road, and the trail becomes narrow and rut-filled.
Also of note: as you ascend the trail, the air temperature drops considerably. Pack a light waterproof jacket. You may also discover, as we did, that the cold damp air renders your digital camera fairly useless. Pack a disposable film camera just in case.
It’s a short hike to the first vista, Marker 10, where you can see the islands Maui and Molokai in the distance, seemingly close enough to touch. On the day we hiked, however, heavy cloud cover obscured much of the view.
Still, the day held many surprises. The trees in the forest at this location are ironwood. Where we stood, we faced a mild drizzle, but the density of the forest was such that we could hear the water droplets stinging the ironwood trees like a pouring rain. Later, at Kukui Gulch, the scent of wild ginger was heady and intense.
The trail has a definite bulldozed-through-the-hills appearance. With its tall, deep sides, you feel as if you’ve shrunken in size. Above and all around you are trees; Norfolk pines and an occasional grove of giant guavas climb the sides of the hills.
A tunnel of branches (Marker 19) marks the start of the Koloiki Ridge trail. Expansive views of two gulches, Naio and Maunalei, coming together before meeting the ocean, and cool tradewinds are your reward at trail’s end.