Kalalau Trail

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Along the Kalalau Trail

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.

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.[1] Outside magazine rated it as one of "The 20 Most Dangerous Hikes" in the world.[2]

The route[edit]

The first section of the trail is a two mile (3 km) stretch from Keʻe Beach to Hanakapiai stream and beach. This section is moderately strenuous and doesn't require a camping permit. The next section connects Hanakapiai stream to Hanakoa Valley, six miles from the trailhead. Up till Hanakoa Valley you are able to hike without a camping permit. Hanakoa Valley contains Hanakoa Falls and stream but the valley is a hanging valley with no access to the beach. The trail to Hanakoa Falls is not well maintained and sometimes difficult to follow. The trail begins after the Hanakoa stream crossing, just before the covered shelter. Anyone proceding past Hanakoa Valley must have a permit.[3]

The trail continues on to Kalalau Valley, a large, flat-bottomed valley almost a mile across. After hiking down Red Hill, it is about a half mile to Kalalau Beach requiring crossing Kalalau stream.

Camping permits are only issued for Kalalau Beach and are limited to 5 consecutive nights. You must wait 30 days after the end of your permit dates to get another permit. You are allowed to camp at Hanakoa Valley one night with a valid Kalalau permit.[4]

Kalalau Valley has a fair number of permanent and semi-permanent "residents" who are illegal squatters. They set up camps both up the valley and in the regular campground. Enforcement rangers have unsuccessfully tried to rid the valley of the illegal inhabitants. If you are caught camping without a permit, you will be issued a citation that requires a court appearance and a fine of up to $500.

The cost of permits is currently $20 a day per person out of state and $15 a day for Hawaii residents.

The most strenuous part of the hike occurs after Hanakapiai Beach where the trail climbs from sea level to 800 feet over 1 1/4 miles.


The dangers of the trail are significant. There are three major stream crossings (Hanakapiai, Hanakoa and Kalalau) that can rise rapidly. Exercise extreme caution when water levels rise. They can rise and fall rather rapidly, so best to wait, rather than to risk your life.

There are also narrow portions, especially after Hanakoa. The 7th mile of the trail is known to be especially dangerous. This includes the infamous "crawler's ledge", an especially uneven and narrow ledge against the cliff, as well as a rather long set of switchbacks immediately preceding it. This section could be very treacherous, especially when it has rained heavily as the trail turns into a mudslide. One slip can result in serious injury or death. —

Notable accidents along the trail[edit]

A recent fatality occurred in June, 2012 at Kalalau Beach campsite when a 30 year old woman fell to her death near the beach waterfall.[5]

Another incident occurred in December, 2012 in which a 31 year-old Japanese national was thrown from a cliff along the trail and critically injured, police, firefighters, and officers with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources closed the Kalalau Trail and conducted a comprehensive four-day sweep of the Kalalau Trail and Kalalau Valley as part of a search for the alleged perpetrator, Justin Wynn Klein. Despite evading capture in the Kalalau Valley, Klein was apprehended in Wailua on April 6, 2013 and subsequently indicted for attempted second-degree murder. [6]

Photographs and Images[edit]


  1. ^ America's 10 Most Dangerous Hikes - Kalalau Trail, Kauai, HI | Backpacker Magazine
  2. ^ The 20 Most Dangerous Hikes - Outside Magazine
  3. ^ Hawaii State Parks > Hiking > Kauai > Kalalau Trail
  4. ^ Hawaii Camping Reservation - Reservations
  5. ^ Woman falls to death at Kalalau - Thegardenisland.com: Local
  6. ^ Klein arrested at Lydgate after nearly 4-month manhunt - Thegardenisland.com: Local

External links[edit]

Media related to Nā Pali Coast State Park (Kalalau Trail) at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 22°12′01″N 159°37′13″W / 22.20028°N 159.62028°W / 22.20028; -159.62028