kauai jungle hike

Kauai Secret Tunnel to the North Shore

The Kauai Secret Tunnel to the North Shore is the most challenging, remote, and unique hike in all of Kauai.

In the 1920’s a sugar company blasted a tunnel through Kauai mountains to divert river water to sugar fields. Years ago, the sugar company downsized and abandoned the tunnel.

The Wife and I drove down the unmaintained gravel road to the Secret Tunnel to the North Shore trailhead. The road was barely passable with a four-wheel drive SUV. We even got stuck on the muddy road after the hike! Had it not been for the generosity of a local, we’d probably still be stuck there.

Enough about the road. The trail was muddy, overgrown, and difficult to follow. It was not an “official” trail of any sort. Both of us ended the hike with cuts and bruises on our hands and arms from the thorn-like bushes that seemed to grow everywhere.

kauai jungle hike

The hike may have been difficult, but the scenery was breathtaking.

kauai wilderness

Finally after four long, slow, and painful miles, we made it to the tunnel.

Kauai Secret Tunnel to the North Shore

For the next mile we hiked through the dark and damp tunnel. While the river was long gone, the Secret Tunnel to the North Shore was still filled with ankle deep stagnant water.

Secret Tunnel to the North Shore Kauai Hike

About 3/4 of the way through, the tunnel opened up briefly to give us a view of a waterfall.

Then it was back in the Kauai Secret Tunnel to the North Shore. We emerged from the tunnel on the back end of the north shore of Kauai. The area we were at was so remote, the tunnel was the only way to reach it.

We took a brief moment at the river. Then we turned around, and did it all again.

bushwhacking kauai


Live the Adventure

There’s actually a second tunnel that you can continue on to. We didn’t. Accessing the second tunnel is supposedly even more difficult than getting to the first tunnel. We were already bruised and bloody enough for one hike.

To reach the trailhead for the Kauai Secret Tunnel to the North Shore, take 580 from Wailua until it becomes gravel. Continue 2.5 miles. At one point there’s a fork in the road, take a left. The trailhead is located at the first gate you come to. It starts off down an active hunter’s trail. Be warned, the road was nearly impassible when we went. If you do this trek you do so at your own risk!



Dave is a nomad, avid hiker, and ultralight backpacker. He covers thousands of miles each year on foot, primarily in North America. You can find him traversing the desert, backpacking in the mountains, or running your local trails.