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Kalalau Trail

Trail Length: 22 mi (round trip).
Activity: Pedestrian
Difficulty: Difficult
Terrain: Wet gulches to open ridgeline
Elevation Gain: 800 ft
Trail Brochure: Kalalau Trail

Park Name: Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park

Description:

REHABILITATION OF KALALAU TRAIL, NAPALI COAST STATE WILDERNESS PARK, KAUA'I BEGINS

9/24/12 - LIHU'E - A project to identify and restore priority sections of a popular 9-mile section of the famed Kalalau Trail began this month. Work on the trail from 2 miles in at Hanakapiai and to the trail’s end (11 miles) at Kalalau beach is being conducted by Pono Pacific Land Management, LLC and is expected to be completed by the end of November 2013. This work is designed to stem and reverse the erosive forces of nature and feral goats that have contributed to the deterioration of this rugged historic trail.

Most hikers are not expected to face delays as work is happening after the 2-mile mark at Hanakapi‘ai. HIkers who go beyond Hanakapiai, and overnight campers with permits may experience short delays when trail work crews are encountered.

Preliminary work is currently underway, and repair work is slated to begin in eroded sections near mile 8. Work will then shift to other prioritized trail sections. Trail crews will camp for a week at a time near the work location, working long days to reduce the cost on helicopter transport, and then be off for a week.

The Kalalau Trail provides the only land access to this part of the rugged coast. Originally built in the late 1800s, portions of the trail were rebuilt in the 1930s. A similar foot trail linked earlier Hawaiian settlements along the coastline. The trail traverses 5 valleys before ending at Kalalau Beach where it is blocked by sheer, fluted cliffs (pali). The 11-mile trail is graded but almost never level as it crosses above towering sea cliffs and through lush valleys. The trail drops to sea level at the beaches of Hanakapi'ai and Kalalau. The first 2 miles of the trail, from Ha’ena State Park to Hanakapi’ai Beach, make a popular day hike.

ADVISORY: You may be exposed to the following hazards in this park:
FALLING ROCKS
FLASH FLOOD
HAZARDOUS CLIFFS

The trail to Hanakapi’ai falls and beyond Hanakapi'ai is recommended for experienced hikers only.

For most backpackers in good condition, hiking the11 miles will take a full day. Those without camping permits for Kalalau Valley are therefore prohibited from attempting the entire 22-mile round trip hike in a day. For those with camping permits, get an early start to avoid overexertion in the midday heat.

For experienced swimmers knowledgeable in local sea conditions, nearshore waters offer limited opportunities for swimming and bodysurfing. Naturalists will find a number of points of interest. Native and introduced tropical plant species abound. Many rare native plants grow on inaccessible cliffs. Wild goats are often seen along the trail route.

Directions: The trail begins in Ha'ena State Park at the northwest end of Kuhio Highway (Route 56) about 41 miles (a 1 1/2-hour drive) from Lihu'e Airport. Leaving vehicles overnight at the trailhead is not recommended.

Additional Info: Climate/Seasons: Throughout the year, temperatures seldom drop below 60°F. Summer weather (May to October) normally brings steady tradewinds and occasional showers while winter weather (October to May) is less predictable. Tradewind showers are more frequent during the night and early morning. Infrequent widespread storms cause flash floods.

Gear: Travel light. Lightweight hiking shoes with good traction are popular. Camping gear should include a lightweight sleeping bag or blanket, sleeping pad, tent or tarp, cooking stove and fuel, water purification tablets or filter, first aid kit, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, rain gear, toilet paper, and biodegradeable soap.

Permits Required: Obtain all permits online at hawaiistateparks.org or any State Parks office. Camping fees for Na Pali Coast are $15-20 per person per night. A maximum stay of 5 nights is allowed in Na Pali Coast State Park. Within the 5-night maximum, no 2 consecutive nights are allowed at Hanakoa.

PLEASE NOTE: CAMPING PERMITS FOR NAPALI COAST ARE EXTREMELY POPULAR, AND OFTEN SELL OUT WELL IN ADVANCE, PARTICULARLY DURING SUMMER. PLEASE PLAN ACCORDINGLY.

AS OF JANUARY 1, 2012, DAY-USE HIKING PERMITS FOR THE KALALAU TRAIL HAVE BEEN DISCONTINUED. DAY HIKING IS NOW ALLOWED WITHOUT A PERMIT UP TO HANAKOA VALLEY (6 MILES IN FROM TRAILHEAD). ANYONE PROCEEDING BEYOND HANAKOA VALLEY MUST POSSESS A VALID CAMPING PERMIT.

Facilities: The authorized camping areas along the trail do not have tables or drinking water. Composting toilets are available at Hanakapi'ai (day use only), Hanakoa, and Kalalau. All camping areas are located on shaded terraces near streams.

 
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