Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Everything You Need To Know About Hiking Kalalau Trail

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Known to be exhilarating, terrifying, exhausting, and drop-dead stunning, the Kalalau Trail is one of the best hikes you could ever dream about traveling. The trail is located along the Nā Pali Coast of the island of Kauai in the island state of Hawaii. Ranging approximately 11 miles long, the trail runs from Ke’e Beach to the Kalalau Valley and is said to be one of the most beautiful and most dangerous hikes in the U.S.

If you’ve been contemplating whether or not to embark on this once-in-a-lifetime hike, you’ve come to the right place as we have everything you need to know ahead before you decide to make the trip.

Trail Overview

The Kalalau Trail is one of the most fabled hikes in the world as there are many stories associated with traveling it. Sitting on the shortlist of one of the most beautiful ocean fronts, this scenic hike is surely one to explore. The trail begins at the road’s end on the north shore of Kauai and crosses multiple Na Pali valleys. Located at Haena State Park, the trail proceeds 14 miles southwest. Along the trail, the valleys of Hanakapiai, Honolulu, Waiahuakua, Hanakoa, and Kalalau are crossed which features some of the world’s most gorgeous scenery.

Overall, it’s important to note that hiking the Kalalau trail is not beginner-friendly. This hike involves serious training and prior hiking experience to be able to navigate steep headlands, sea cliffs, and fording streams. And though the hike isn’t the easiest to embark on, its beautiful scenery helps to make up for it as this hike is one for the books.

Whether it’s a lack of time, physical limitations, or inexperience, most hikers choose not to make the full trip. The full hike consists of more than a single day, making it more feasible to backpack instead.

Permit Regulations

Permits depend on the duration of your hike. Hikers who are hiking to Hanakapiai Beach from Kee Beach do not need permits. However, hikers that plan on passing Hanakapiai Valley must have a permit. As for reservations, you can make a reservation up to 30 days in advance, but they tend to sell out pretty quickly. From there, transportation will need to be secured for a shuttle in order to be dropped off at Haena State Park or at the trailhead.

Trail Highlights and Points Of Interest

When hiking the trail, expect to see some pretty amazing scenery on your hike. While heading to Hanakapiai, hikers can see some amazing coastal views of the ocean’s shore. Hanakapiai Falls is also a must-see if you’re capable of making the trip, though it’s going to require a little bit of leg power to get there. Along the ocean side, hikers can expect to see deeply grooved cliffs and sharp pinnacles, making this hike ever so breathtaking in itself. Experienced hikers also note that Kalalau Beach sea caves make for a nice summertime hangout as well.

Safety Considerations

While hiking Hanakapiai, it is important to note that this hike is in fact dangerous during wet and stormy weather. Because of its extremely rugged terrain, this hike is considered a wilderness hike and requires important safety precautions to be taken. Wet weather makes the hike more difficult to embark on as rockfalls and terrain surfaces can become slippery. There is no reliable cell phone service on the trail, so be aware of that when trying to get in contact with the outside world. The hike should always be made with a partner or a group of experienced hikers.

Planning and Preparation

Packing snacks, water, proper hiking gear, sunscreen, and a map are all imperative. In addition to packing the proper hiking gear, good footwear is an extreme must as there are a lot of rugged areas while climbing the hike. Before making the trip, make sure to include tents, sleeping bags, blankets, and water filters. As for any hike, always be sure to check the weather forecast ahead of your hike to check for any storms or rainy weather.

People Ask: Kalalau Trail

Q: How do I prepare?

A: Preparing for the Kalalau Trail really only takes a few tips and well-practiced training beforehand. Packing the right gear, getting a permit, planning your trip accordingly, being respectful of the environment, and feeling prepared for the weather are just a few tips that will set you up for success.

Q: What is the scariest part of hiking the trail?

A: The trail is pretty steep with natural hazards ranging from strong water currents to falling rocks. While hiking, steep drop-offs into the water are especially dangerous, so it’s important to pack a good pair of hiking shoes with good grip.

Q: What is the best time of day to hike the trail?

A: First thing in the morning during the summer months from May to October.

Q: What is the difficulty of the trail?

A: This trail ranks as difficult for hikers and backpackers.

Q: How do I get a permit?

A: You can purchase a camping permit online or in person at any State Park’s district office.

Q: Where can I camp overnight?

A: Hanakoa and Kalalau are the only two authorized areas for camping.

Q: What’s it like hiking the trail?

A: It’s important to note that the trail is physically demanding, so make sure that you are in shape before making the trip.

Q: Do I have to be experienced?

A: This trail is not a beginner-friendly hike, so previous hiking experience or thorough training is a must.

Q: Can the trail be done both ways in one day?

A: According to hikers who have made the trip, hiking Kalalau is not designed for a one-day trip.

Q: How many days should I spend on the trail?

A: If you can, try stretching the hike out for 3 days. This will give you ample time to see all of the scenery and to feel like you have gotten the full experience.

Hiking the Kalalau Trail is not for the weak-hearted, however, if you can make the trip with proper training in advance, the proper gear and navigation and a hiker’s permit, you will certainly never forget this once-in-a-lifetime experience.


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