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On Walkabout On: The Waikoko Road to the Jurassic Park Gate

Basic Information

  • What: The Jurassic Park Gate
  • Where: Kauai, Hawaii
  • Distance: 6 miles round-trip
  • Difficulty: Difficulty: EasyMediumHardDifficult
  • More Information: Kauai.com

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

Narrative

Something widely advertised on Kauai is to take a tour of the island very sights that were used in various movies.  One of the most popular sites is where the gate for the movie Jurassic Park was located at.  After doing a little research on where the gate was located I decided it would make for a nice hike to walk to the gate instead of taking a paid-for four-wheel drive tour.  The hike to see the gate begins at the Keahua Arboretum which is accessed by turning left on Kuamo’o Road just after the Wailua Bridge on Kauai’s East Coast. The road goes by the Opaeka’a Falls lookout.  The road turns into Road 580.  Keahua Arboretum is about 8 miles down the road:

It is a pretty drive to the Arboretum as Road 580 passes various country homes before entering into the dense vegetation of Kauia’s interior.  The Keahua Arboretum begins where the road comes to this tributary of the Wailua River:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

From here the road becomes a four-wheel drive only route.  So I parked my car at the lot and proceeded to take my shoes and socks off to walk across the river.  The water was not all that cold compared to creeks I have had to ford in Colorado:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

This section of the Arboretum is a large picnic area where people can relax and check out the various species of plants that surround the park.  For example the Arboretum has a few of these beautiful Rainbow Eucalyptus trees:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

These trees like many other plants in Hawaii are not native to the islands.  This tree is originally from the Philippines, but like many other introduced plants in Hawaii they thrive here:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

The Arboretum is the trailhead for a number of popular trails in the area, however I was not going to follow a trail, but instead hike up a dirt road known as the Waikoko Forest Management Road to the Jurassic Park Gate.  I found the road to be quite muddy:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

Despite taking my shoes off to cross the river earlier it did not take long for them to become drenched walking down this road.  I should have packed my waterproof hiking boots, but did not due to the weight they would add to my already heavy luggage that I brought to Hawaii. As I continued down the road I did spot a few small creeks the road passed over that I did not have to ford:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

I eventually came to another water crossing that I would have to ford:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

This time I just walked across it with my shoes on since they were already drenched:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

Fording the river actually helped get all the mud off of shoes at least for a little while until walking on the road covered them in mud again.  As I continued down the road I did enjoy the lush vegetation that surrounded me:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

There were plenty of flowers to see as well:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

Before reaching the Jurassic Park gate I had to cross yet one more small creek:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

After this creek crossing the road was extremely muddy, but I pushed on and eventually came to the Jurassic Park gate:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

Considering the effort I put into getting to the gate, it was a bit of a let down considering it is just two poles in the ground now.  Compare these two poles to what the gate once looked like:

Jurassic Park gate image via ScienceFiction.com.

While I was at the gate two four-wheel drive vans filled with tourists arrived.  The tourists were surprised that I had walked all the way from the Arboretum to the gate; especially with the wet and muddy conditions.  It really wasn’t all that bad.  It had took me about 2 hours to reach the gate.  From the gate I pushed on down the road to where a small pond is supposed to be located.  Most of the tourists decided to follow me to the pond because the road was too muddy for the vans to continue on. Along the way the native Hawaiian guides that accompanied the tourists did a lot of cool demonstrations on tools, clothing, and food the rainforest can provide.  As we walked up the road it was very cloudy, but I could occasionally see a nearby peak make an appearance:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

This section of the road is very near the center of the island where the 5,066 foot Mt. Waialeale is located.  This mountain is the high point of Kauai and is considered one of the wettest places on Earth due to its average rainfall of 462 inches a year.  The day I hiked up this road was a perfect example of typical Mt. Waialeale conditions where the peak is usually encased in clouds:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

Here is a picture of Mt. Waialeale on a rare clear day that I took from the Lihue Airport:

I always find it exciting when I am on Kauai and happen to spot Mt. Waialeale peaking out from the clouds.  Anyway as myself and the group of tourists continued up the road we eventually came to the small pond that is created by a dam on the creek:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

Here is a picture of the creek that flows down from the upper regions of Mt. Waialeale:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

There is actually a trail that leads further up the creek to an area called the “Blue Hole” which is right at the base of Mt. Waialeale.  I thought about continuing on up the trail, but unfortunately as I was checking out the pond the mountains became increasingly encased in clouds and then it began to heavily down pour:

Picture from Keahua Arboretum

The Hawaiian guides recommended that I not continue on up the trail because of the rain.  They felt that the down pour would not let up any time soon and to try and hike up here another day.  I believe in listening to local advice and these Hawaiian guides were as local as it gets; so I decided to turn around and head on back to the Keahua Arboretum.  From the pond it was about a three mile walk back to the gate.  This makes the hike six miles round-trip which felt longer due to the mud and river crossings.  Since it was now down pouring I decided to start jogging down the road to get back to the Arboretum quicker.  As I was jogging down the road the tour vans started coming back down the road and one of the drivers offered to give me ride back to the trailhead.  Considering the rain that was coming down and quickly took the driver up on his offer.  The guide dropped me off back at the Arboretum where I gave the driver a big thank you for the ride.

Conclusion

From the Arboretum I drove back to where I was staying in Poipu.  When I arrived back at the hotel it was beautiful and sunny out.  That is the thing about Kauai, the weather in the interior can be horrible, but along the coastline, especially the South Shore the weather is usually beautiful.  Overall I found the Jurassic Park Gate to be a bit of a let down, but I enjoyed the hike until the heavy rain started to come down.  So for anyone thinking of hiking to the gate be prepared for inclement weather even if where you are staying at is sunny and beautiful.  I will definitely be back to hike further up this road at some point to see the Blue Hole, I just hope the weather cooperates next time.

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