The Kalalau Trail Is Hands Up The Most Incredible Hikes In America
The Kalalau Trail is a trail along Nā Pali Coast of the island of Kauai in the state of Hawaii. The strenuous trail runs approximately 11 miles (18 km) along the island’s north shore from Keʻe Beach to the Kalalau Valley. Expert hikers can complete the roundtrip 22 mile trek as a day hike, but the average hiker requires a two-day minimum and will camp along the trail. Camping is only permitted on the beach at Hanakoa Valley (6 mile mark) and Kalalau Beach.
Napali and the Kalalau Valley have scenery so magnificent that they are published worldwide in magazines, calendars and postcards. While hiking to one of the most beautiful and remote beaches in the world is a long trip, one can get a small glimpse of the coastal views and lush jungle from a mini-version of the 22-mile round trip Kalalau Trail
The trail is located in Nā Pali Coast State Park and access is controlled for the purpose of conservation. A limited number of permits are issued for camping in Kalalau Valley every year. In spite of the efforts of the state of Hawaiʻi, many people camp at Kalalau Beach without permits.
The trail is notable for its remoteness, beauty, difficult terrain and dangers. Backpacker Magazine listed it as one the “10 Most Dangerous Hikes” in the US. Outside magazine rated it as one of “The 20 Most Dangerous Hikes” in the world.
To hike the entire trail and also spend time exploring Kalalau Beach and Valley takes 2-3 days. Most people are day hikers that don’t ever make it all the way out to Kalalau. The popular day hike from Kee Beach to Hanakapiai Beach , approximately 2 miles along the trail (four miles round trip) receives the bulk of hikers, or even continue on 2 more miles up the valley to Hanakapi’ai Falls.
IMPORTANT SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS FOR HANAKAPI’AI BEACH AND STREAM:
Use extreme caution crossing the stream and if there has been consistent heavy rain recently or the flow is high, do NOT cross at all. If you want to cross without getting your feet wet, you can sometimes skip across the rocks if you head inland a few meters; however it is far safer to get your shoes wet (or take them off and put them back on the other side) than it is to potentially slip on a rock and fall.
Please do not place yourself at risk by walking on boulders that are wet with sea water – if the boulders are wet it means that the waves come up that high (even if they are far away when you are looking at it – wave heights vary greatly between sets and getting washed off the rocks is a very common way people get injured or drown). Even in the summer time, when the beach is deep with white sand; people sometimes venture along the lava rock shelves on both ends of the beach. Many people have met their demise by being swept off these shelves by large waves after venturing on them at a low point in between sets. If the rocks are wet – stay off! A local rule of thumb is to watch the ocean for 20 minutes before going in or walking in a tidal zone.
– Get a hiking stick or see if you can grab one! Fortunately enough you may find one at the beach and it could be literally your lifesaver.
– Wear comfortable shoes that you also wouldn’t mind getting wet. You could ended up just wading directly through the rivers because the rocks were so slippery. Heed the warnings that the trail becomes dangerous if it rains; you could get lucky that the rivers were safe enough to cross but at certain points you would definitely had fears of getting swept away.
– Bring TONS of water and snacks!
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