Kalalau Trail

5 stars from 6 reviews
Address northwest end of Kuhio Highway, Kapaa, HI 96746
Spectacular, breathtakingly gorgeous trail. Advanced hikers only.

Features
• General: Photo Opportunity • Hiking: Hiking
• Hiking: Length: 10+ Miles • Hiking: Level: Experts Only
• Hiking: Nature Walk • Hiking: Out & Back Trail
• Hiking: Ridge Hike • Sightseeing: Great Views
• Sightseeing: Waterfalls • Water Activities: Water Sports

Matt Anderson's Take
The Kalalau Trail is an 11 mile long (each way), out and back style hiking trail along the Napali Coast on the west side of Kaua'i. It's currently closed with no word on when it will reopen but we'll show you all about it here.


This is an infamous trail and intended only for the most advanced hikers. This is not a family friendly hike or one you would just randomly wake up and decide to do. The Kalalau Trail requires some advanced planning and preparations.


It is possible to hike part of the Kalalau Trail as the first 2 miles or so are often considered to be of moderate difficulty. If you're up for that challenge you'll end up at Hanakapi'ai Beach on the Napali Coast which is certainly an epic place to spend some time.


If you continue on beyond Hanakapi'ai Beach then make sure you're properly equipped and prepared for the difficult task ahead. This one is no joke with incredible narrow ledges where a slip and fall will almost certainly lead to your death.


There is a particularly scary section known as "crawlers" ledge that wraps around the mountain with what feels like 12 inches of path and vertical cliff on one side and a vertical drop off on the other. This alone has caused many advanced hikers to pack it in and head back the way they came.


The words "na pali" mean "high cliffs" for a good reason as the cliffs in this area reach around 4,000 feet above sea level. Views of the ocean are incredible, as are those of the Kalalau Valley and various waterfalls along the way.


The Kalalau Trail was originally built in the 1800s and if you're wondering how it looked back then, well, hike out and you'll see because this place is as close to unspoiled Hawaii as you're going to find. Parts of the trail were rebuilt in the 1930s but to call certain areas "sketchy" is an understatement.


Those who take the 11 mile journey will cross five valleys through lush landscapes and end at the spectacular Kalalau Beach. This isn't a day hike as the full journey takes a full day, each way, for most. If you're looking for a day hike then stick with the first 2 miles and stop at Hanakapi'ai Beach.


Because it takes a full day to reach Kalalau Beach at the end, you will be camping over night and thus will need to have a camping permit with you. Knowing the weather on this hike is important as as making sure people know you're going on it and when to expect you back.


If you're not in the mood for hiking this trail but want to see the Napali Coast, local companies offer tours via helicopter and boat.
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Matt Anderson
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Tom T
Joined: Sep 2013
Reviews: 579
Likes Received: 33
When I think of the beauty of Hawaii, Na Pali Coast Trail immediately comes to mind. I've hiked the 2 miles in to the beach, then up a mile to the first waterfall several times, but this past year I took the time to hike the 11 miles to Kalalau, and what an experience.
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Ellen R
Joined: Jul 2016
Reviews: 89
Likes Received: 108
This is a challenging hike just to the first beach. Also challenging to hike the mile on a poorly marked trail upstream to the waterfall. If it has been raining don't go. Kauai county rescues stranded people who are wise enough not to attempt to cross the swollen stream a couple of times a year. The county also rescues injured persons who are transported by helicopter a couple times a year. When you see a red helicopter in the sky someone is in trouble.
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tina l
Joined: Apr 2016
Reviews: 1
Likes Received: 0
We love the coast and hiking so we thought this would be a great 2 mile hike. We started early so we would have time to enjoy the view! And it was spectacular! The path is easy if you are under fifty but older people had a harder time navigating the rocks and path. I wore my Fitbit and it claimed 39 floors walked! I believe it. Mostly straight up too.

But we took our time and let those in a hurry (although I don't know why) scurry past us. Every tree, bush, and view was so beautiful that we had to stop and enjoy it! Be sure you take water and wear shoes you don't care if they get muddy because they will get muddy. Layered clothes are best if you plan on staying at the top because you do enjoy a temperature change. Oh, did I mention we only did the first half mile? Maybe next time we'll go farther but it was the best 1/2 mile of the day!
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Frank J
Joined: Apr 2016
Reviews: 3
Likes Received: 2
This was a beautiful, challenging hike for us. At nearly 50 years old it took everything we had to do it in two days. Spectacular views, dangerous terrain, and a beautiful beach at the end. But honestly not breathtaking, just nice. My wife twisted her knee, on the way in so it was a challenge to get out. But she did it. Two days 22 miles, through the wind, rain, and falling rocks! But it's not the 6th hardest hike in the world for no reason.
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Sue K
Joined: Mar 2016
Reviews: 196
Likes Received: 9
After much consideration, I just hiked to Hanakapi'ai Beach, two miles along the trail. I would love to have done the whole trail to Kalalau, but I hear it's pretty tough! This scaled down version, however, gave me a taste, and is adequately stunning. I stopped for a snack on the beach before making my way back. The trail is very beautiful and an opportunity not to be missed.
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Dlnr P
Joined: Aug 2015
Reviews: 1
Likes Received: 0
STATE AND KAUAI COUNTY RELEASE KALALAU TRAIL SAFETY VIDEO
Designed to Inform Hikers About Preparation and Risks

The Kalalau Trail in the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park is likely the most heavily used hiking trail in Hawaii. An estimated 500,000 visitors and residents use the spectacular trail each year. Sandwiched between the ocean and the towering cliffs of the Na Pali Coast, the trail is widely featured in guide books, on travel websites and in blogs.

“There’s little doubt the Kalalau Trail is one of the crown jewels of the entire system of Hawaii State Parks,” said Dan Quinn, administrator of the DLNR Division of State Parks. “Due to its immense popularity, hikers often arrive at the trailhead without having made the proper preparations for what ultimately is a pretty tough trek, especially for beginning hikers,” Quinn went on to say.

The six-minute-long video, produced by DLNR in cooperation with the Kauai County Fire Department and Civil Defense Agency, highlights some of the challenges hikers might face on the Kalalau Trail. It focuses on the first two miles of the hike to Hanakapiai Stream, which is the length the majority of hikers make. A state permit is required to traverse beyond Hanakapiai Stream or Hanakapiai Falls. The entire trail is 11 miles long and those wanting to go beyond Hanakapiai can obtain permits from the Division of State Parks.

Kalalau Trail Visitor Safety Video:
https://vimeo.com/135624713
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