The Sleeping Giant With this hike, I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant. Welcome to Kauai!

The Proper Function

The Sleeping Giant

he Sleeping Giant, also known as Nounou Mountain, is located on Kauai, Hawaii. The formation received its name due to its resemblance of a reclining human figure, and from a Native Hawaiian legend about a giant who, after great labor and overeating, lay to rest and has yet to be awaken. Myth states that when the natives feared being attacked, they would light fires behind the giant thus frightening the invaders away towards other islands.


Sleeping Giant

Ascending A Giant

The Sleeping Giant trail, named the Nounou Trail, has three different routes in your attempt to awake the giant. You can take either the east route (most scenic), west route, or the Kuamoo-Mounou route. We chose the east route where the first half of the trail consists mainly of switchbacks that will have you cutting through an abundance of guava trees. Be sure to stay on the main trail as wild pigs create paths that can create undesirable detours. You will see yellow mile markers in 0.25 increments which will help.


Noun Mountain Trail

Eventually you will reach a picnic table where you can see the entire Wailua Valley from Anatolia to Lihue’. This area is known as the “Giant’s Chest” and marks the half way point of the hike. Guidebooks will often say that this is where most hikers should stop. Continue another 0.5 miles further there is a sign that reads “Trail Ends Here”.

It’s beyond this sign when you’ll begin your adventure hiking over the Giant’s chin and nose. If you are weary of heights, you will be exposed to sheer drops on both sides, so continuing may not be in your best interest. In order to reach the chin of the Giant, you’ll need to do some basic rock climbing, which can be slick if it has been raining. Past the chin there is a steep trail that will lead you to the nose of the Giant and a fall in either direction will most certainly lead to death. Once on top, you will be greatly rewarded with a 360 degree view of Kauai! Look towards Mount Waialeale and on a clear day you can see multiple waterfalls flowing. The view is, literally, a once-in-a-lifetime experience!


The Sleeping Giant Trail


“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” – John Muir

Prayer Box

No Postage Required

As we ascended The Sleeping Giant, we veered off the main path (22.06328 – 159.25457) and came upon a prayer box mounted between some bamboo. I wanted to look inside, but didn’t out of respect for those who perhaps had a deeper understanding than I had. In fact, I made a joke that since the flag was still raised maybe we’d have a chance to meet God when he came to collect the mail. It’s usually that type of humor that alerts me that something far deeper exists.

The image of this box suspended on a mountainside was beautifully symbolic for so many things. I’ll admit, I don’t pray as much as I should and when I do it’s often out of concern for someone I love. The idea of taking your worries, placing them into a box and closing the door on them seemed simple, yet powerful.  It’s in God’s hands. It’s about trust. It’s about letting go.


Naounou Trail

Function Details

Take Highway 56 and turn inland onto Haleilio Road. The road begins to curve towards the end and you’ll look for the parking lot on your right. The trail starts at this parking lot which lies adjacent to the Department of Water pump site.



This Proper Function
(Approximate Data)
Party Cloudy
2,315ftElevation 13.7hrsDistance From You
State, RegionHawaii,Northeast
Coordinates22.063558°, -159.350472°
DirectionsView on Google Maps
Time4.5 Hours RT


Dan is an explorer for The Outbound and founder of The Proper Function, an outdoor editorial. He is passionate about exploration and can’t stay put for more than a week.