Kalalau Trail – Kapaa, Hawaii - Atlas Obscura

Kapaa, Hawaii

Kalalau Trail

This narrow coastline trail through the dense Kauai wilderness is among the most beautiful and dangerous in the world. 

The Kalalau Trail winds more than 11 miles through Kauai’s Napali Coast. Dense, muddy rainforest, rocky inclines, unpredictable weather and narrow paths along sheer cliffs has earned it the reputation of one of the most dangerous trails in the world. This trek is not for the faint-hearted, however enduring the difficult trip is well worth the effort.

The trail weaves it’s way between dense rainforest valleys and steep, rocky cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean below. One particularly notorious stretch, Crawler’s Ledge, is no more than a foot-wide ledge of crumbly rock hundreds of feet above the rocky coast.

Hikers must cross three streams before arriving at Kalalau Beach. Due to frequent, unpredictable downpours, streams can quickly overflow and become impassable. It’s not uncommon for hikers to be stranded along the trail until flooded streams return to their normal levels. Hikers who are willing to make the effort are rewarded with beautiful views of one of the most dramatic coastlines in the world.

Update: Due to flooding in April 2018 and the ensuing landslides, access to the trail is now closed. The county is working on opening access again, but there is no ETA for when that will be.

Know Before You Go

Limited parking is available at the trail head so arrive early. Camping along the trail is allowed only with a permit. Sites are available at Kalalau Beach at the end of the trail or at about the half way point in Hanakoa Valley.

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