Kalalau Trail | Napali Coast | Kauai, HI Website: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/hiking/kauai/kalalau-trail/ Know Before You Go: This trail requires a camping permit and a parking permit if you are going to hike more than 2 miles. The permits are available 90 days prior through the Haena State Park website. Also, they close this trail due to heavy rains and other extreme weather conditions. If the trail is wet, it makes it extremely difficult to hike as the rocks and the mud are very slippery. A day pass is required if you only hike the 2 miles. There are stream crossings and wet areas on this hike, so you may want to wear waterproof shoes. Regardless of the weather, be sure to take enough water with you as there are not water sources along the trail unless you have a filtration system. Also, be sure to take sunscreen. Length: This trail is a total of 11 miles one way. We hiked an 8-mile loop to Hanakapiai waterfall. Time: It depends on how far you hike. Our 8-mile loop took us all day as the footing was slippery. Difficulty: Difficult. Terrain: Crushed aggregate, dirt/mud, rock. Dog-friendly: Pets are not allowed on this trail. Kid-friendly: Parts of this trail are treacherous with very little between you and a long drop. Be sure to keep a close eye on kids, and limit hikers to older kids.
The Kalalau Trail is one of the most amazing trails we’ve hiked. Located on the north shore of the island of Kauai in Hawaii - called the Napali Coast - this trail is a destination for hiking enthusiasts all over the world. It features spectacular views of emerald-covered cliffs, turquoise ocean and lush rain forest. Its claim to fame is being featured in the Jurassic Park films. Thankfully, the only wildlife we saw were chickens - no dinosaurs.
This trail is the reason we visited Kauai. We read about it when researching hiking in Hawaii and decided it would be worth the extra flight to stop on Kauai for a couple of days specifically to hike this trail. We are SO glad we did!
The trail on the north end of the Kalalau begins south of the city of Princeville. We rented a car so that we could leave our vacation rental early enough to get an early-morning start. We had gotten a camping permit and a parking permit so that we could hike further than the 2-mile limit allowed by a day pass.
The Kalalau Trail is a challenge for several reasons. One, the traffic. Despite the state’s efforts to restrict the numbers on the trail with its new permit system, it’s VERY busy. We actually hiked this on the day after Christmas, thinking it would be pretty quiet, but it was a mob. We had to pull off every so often to let people pass both from behind and going the opposite way. The heavy traffic poses a safety issue at times as some hikers don’t observe hiking etiquette - in fact, one teen pushed past me and knocked me down on slick rocks, only to fall himself a few yards ahead.
Another reason this trail is challenging is because of the steep ups and downs. There are very few flat stretches on this trail, and 8 miles of climbing was plenty even for these experienced hikers. Not only that, the terrain is slick even on a dry day. The mud that never seems to go away makes it slick and can be quite dangerous. Be ready to get dirty, to use your hands, your butt, and whatever else you need to scramble forward. Wear good, grippy hiking shoes or boots.
Enough with the disclaimers now.
This trail is stupendous. The views of the cliffs meeting the ocean are spectacular. The rain forest is gorgeous and filled with lush greenery, mossy rocks, beautiful flowers and surprisingly pretty but feral chickens. (Yep, chickens. They’re exotically colored and EVERYWHERE on Kauai.) You can hike this as a multi-day out and back along the coast or take the Hanakapiai Falls turnoff at the beach to make an 8-mile unforgettably gorgeous loop to a paradise waterfall.
Wow! What. A. Trail.
Hanakapiai Waterfall (Take the spur at the beach for this 8-mile loop)