I want to hike the Kalalau Trail in December

Old Sep 21st, 2011, 05:38 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 250
I want to hike the Kalalau Trail in December

I know it can rain a lot on the North Shore of Kauai in the Winter months. I will be in Kauai again over Christmas and the New Year. Can anyone tell me what to expect if I want to hike the first two miles to Hanakapi’ai beach and then up the valley to the falls? My DW is petrified of heights!
lunabug is offline  
Old Sep 21st, 2011, 05:57 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 499
I've done the hike twice. Also, I've backpacked for over 30 years. The trail is poorly maintained but during normal times, it is not a problem. However, during the rain it is a slippery, ugly, muddy mess. I've seen people coming off the trail with bloody cuts on their knees and legs. Having said that, people traverse it all the time and the views from the trail are beautiful.
wbpiii is offline  
Old Sep 21st, 2011, 07:50 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,798
I would not attempt either after a rainfall or during the rain. We found the trail to the falls semi-dangerous due to stream crossings, poor trail markings, and very slippery and narrow trails and this was in July.
iamq is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 07:17 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,597
It's a very steep trail mostly all large rocks not dirt. Most parts are in the shade so for some time after a shower ( which are often daily in this area) the rocks are dangerously slippery with slick muddy water. It's an exhausting climb for the average person. Try it with the realization that you might not make it as far as you planned. Turn around and go back before you reach the exhaustion point or it becomes too slick for safety.
montereybob is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 11:36 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
We hiked the first 2 miles of the Kalalau one February and I don't remember this being a strenuous hike. There were a lot of people hiking this trail--I remember there were some in flip flops. We didn't go up the valley to the waterfalls. There were some small streams that came across the trail that made it somewhat muddy in parts--we wore hiking boots--your running shoes would get muddy.

The trail follows the coast and climbs a bit along the cliff so you have really great views of the valley and out to the ocean. We also saw whales from the trail. It's the most famous hike in Hawaii so we wanted to hike at least the first 2 miles. We should have hiked this trail before the other hike we did on Kauai.

We also hiked the Awa'awaphui/Cliffs/Nu'alolo Trail which is still our favorite all time hiking trail--I thought this trail was fairly strenuous. We hiked it on a wonderfully clear, sunny day. It took us most of the day and we only ran into 7 hikers the entire day. Be sure to check out trail conditions at Kokee Lodge Ranger Station, if you do hike this trail.

We started down the Nu'alolo, which goes through a forest for a couple miles until it reaches a ridge with great views. After about 3 miles we arrived at the intersection of the Nu'ololo and the Cliffs trails. We continued beyond this and walked out to Lolo Vista, our favorite spot on this trail. Helicopters flew below us and there was a spectacular view out across the Napali cliffs--you can see this spot in the Harrison Ford movie "6 Days/7nights". We loved the sign at at the edge of the cliff "Trail ends here"--the cliff just drops off there. We crossed the Cliffs--I wished we had our trekking poles--this part was a bit scary--had a picnic at a table there on the Cliffs and then headed to the Awa'awapuhi Lookout. The last couple miles were all uphill and I was tired.
LindainOhio is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 12:24 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,798
It is not that the trail is "strenuous" that makes it potentially dangerous. It is not that steep or long. It is the condition of the trail on a particular day that can make it dicey. If it has been raining and it is muddy, even hiking boots are not going to keep some folks from sliding down parts of the trail. I am not advocating NOT doing it, but pick your day for doing it carefully and as Bob said, you can always turn around and go back.
iamq is offline  
Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 08:39 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 250
Thanks guys. Frankly, I am not concerned about a bit of tough conditions. Life threatening might be a problem though! LindainO I will check out the trail you are talking about.
lunabug is offline  
Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 08:47 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 250
DW watched the movie 'A perfect getaway' It's going to take a bit to get her on this trail. We absolutely loved the hike on the cliffs east of Poipu though.
lunabug is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2011, 11:25 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,787
LindainOhio, was the Awa'awapuhi trail just strenuous or also dangerous (as in trails washing away, etc)? Are hiking shoes necessary?
sf7307 is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2011, 03:11 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
We did the whole loop on a dry sunny day. I would not do it on a rainy day. It was so clear, we could see Niihau. Parts of the Cliffs trail (it connects the Nu'alolo to the Awa'awapuhi) had washed away and it would have made me more comfortable if I had had trekking poles or a walking stick. Ask the ranger at Kokee lodge about the conditions of the trail before you start.

If I was only doing one of the trails, I would do the Nu'alolo because the view from Lolo Vista was the highlight of the hike for us---you do have to walk out to the Vista on a narrow ridge. Not for someone afraid of heights. You can then check out the Cliffs Trail and see if it looks ok--the most washed out portion was at the beginning. You can always turn around here if you think it looks too dangerous to cross.

We are in our fifties. My husband is very fit and did the hike in running shoes. I wore boots and thought the final uphill was strenuous. I think there is a 1500 foot elevation gain.

If you do the loop hike, you will not end up where you started. We were picked up by some very nice drivers who took us back to the car--about 1.5 miles downhill. Some people park their car at the end of the Awa'awapuhi so the car is there when they finish hiking. They get a ride or walk down the street to the Nu'alolo and start there. If I remember, the trail starts close to Kokee Lodge
LindainOhio is offline  
Old Sep 28th, 2011, 10:54 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,713
Time for me to chime in ...

A few years ago, after having done the first two miles of the Kalalau Trail, I decided to go back and continue on to the waterfall. I waited for a dry, sunny day -- when it had not rained the previous night.

Of course, about mid-way through, it started pouring. To make a long story short, I fell face first into a few inches of water in a stream bed, turning it blood red. At first, I couldn't move and wondered if I might drown in a few inches of water. Nothing was broken and I was able to limp back. I had a lump on my leg the size of a baseball.

I would not do that trail again. I think there are extraordinarily beautiful things to see in Kauai that do NOT require risking my life. And honestly, I thought it was beautiful -- but not as nice as the views I've gotten at the Kalalau Lookout, and on several hikes (described below).

Here's an excerpt from one of my trip reports:

I’m a nature lover, so for me, Kauai is paradise. I can’t imagine a place with more beauty—and with so much variety in such a relatively small area. You don’t need to risk your life or be an experienced hiker in order to be rewarded with breathtaking views in Kauai. I’ve previously done four miles on the Kalalau Trail (to the beach—and then on to the waterfall), and I preferred the views that I saw on this trip’s less-strenuous hikes—that required less effort than climbing over jagged boulders and tree roots, and having to navigate dangerous, slippery trails.

Most days, I walked the length of Hanalei Bay with my feet in the water—either early morning, or at sunset. Gorgeous!

Several mornings, I walked the beautiful path beside the Princeville golf course to the St. Regis Hotel. Gorgeous views of the mist-draped mountains—and at the end, I was rewarded with great beach, and Bali Hai views. That beach is one of my “magic” places

My favorite walking path is the one that runs 4.1 miles from Kapa’a past Kealia Beach. The concrete path is shared by bikes, joggers, and walkers, and is a non-stop photo opp. It has a restroom and drinking fountain. There were almost always surfers to watch, and in the winter I’ve spotted lots of whales from the path. The views are so beautiful I walked that path more times than I can count. It was a good way to walk off my Kountry Kitchen pancakes, although looking back on those massive macadamia/banana treats, I probably would have had to walk to Tahiti to burn off those calories

Another fantastic walk was along the surf from the Kauai Beach Resort toward Lydgate Park. The rugged surf, the views of Sleeping Giant, and the ocean splashing my feet made it perfect.

My first big hike of this trip was the Kuilau Ridge Trail. This East side trail was accessed from Kuamoo Rd. past Opeakaa Falls, just before the stream and arboretum. It was a little bit slippery in spots due to the previous night’s rain—drier on the way down, after the sun had baked it—but not nearly as demanding or treacherous as some of Kauai’s better-known trails. I loved it. It’s 2.1 miles each way and is categorized as “moderate.”

Hike #2 was the Okolehao Trail—accessed (heading North) by turning left immediately after the first one-lane bridge (just before Hanalei). It starts with beautiful views of taro fields. This 2.3 mile trail, also categorized as “moderate,” is quite demanding because it’s very steep—but was well worth the effort. In addition to the “wow” vistas there were beautiful wild orchids along the trail. At the top, there were phenomenal views looking down on Hanalei Bay.

The highlight of my hiking was the Canyon Trail at Waimea Canyon/Koke’e State Park. I’ve done this trail several times before, and once again, I could barely believe anything could be so beautiful. It’s even harder to believe that this scenery is in Kauai—and not somewhere like Arizona or Australia’s Blue Mountains. After a few stops to look at the views of the canyon, we headed to the Kalalau Lookout. What a wonderful surprise to find that the road has been repaired. In the past the potholes were horrid.

At the end of the road was what must surely be the most beautiful view on earth—the Kalalau Lookout. I stood in awe of the beauty and photographed it from every angle. I had to tear myself away to hike the Canyon Trail. 3.6 miles, the trail is classified as “moderate,” and has some challenging spots. I’d done this trail several times before but was still overwhelmed by the beauty.
Songdoc is offline  
Old Sep 28th, 2011, 02:16 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 499
"I think there are extraordinarily beautiful things to see in Kauai that do NOT require risking my life."

Exactly!
islandaze is offline  
Old Sep 28th, 2011, 02:17 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,787
Songdoc, we're going to be in Kauai for just 5 days (next week, yea!!) so your post is so timely. We did just buy some trail shoes -- do you think we'd need them for the Canyon Trail, the Okolehao Trail and/or the Kuilau Ridge Trail?
sf7307 is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2011, 12:42 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 1,596
My 5'3" frame found the Kalalau trail to be a jump and a climb instead of a hike. And, yes, I slipped and fell and wore red dirt all over me. DH thought I just wasn't watching where I was going until he fell and busted his beehind.
iceeu2 is offline  
Old Sep 30th, 2011, 11:01 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,713
I did all of those trails with good sneakers -- but if I'd had them with me, I'd have worn hiking shoes. It's just so bulky to pack an extra big pair of shoes. I'm hoping to find a hybrid that I can wear as a comfortable sneaker -- and use as a hiking boot, as well.
Songdoc is offline  
Old Sep 30th, 2011, 01:31 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,787
These are the ones I got - they are incredibly comfortable, and although I won't wear them as a "general" shoe, according to the reviews I read, many people do:

http://www.merrell.com/US/en-US/Prod...oab-Ventilator
sf7307 is offline  
Old Oct 1st, 2011, 04:23 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,713
Thanks for the suggestion!
Songdoc is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2011, 10:59 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,787
>>>

Songdoc, could you clarify please? I'm looking at a map of the trails in the Koke'e/Waimea Canyon area. You can open the pdf from this link:

http://www.hawaii-guide.com/kauai/sp..._hiking_trails

It looks to me like the Kalalau lookout is aways past the Koke'e Lodge, whereas the Cliff Trail/Canyon Trail and Waipo'o Falls are to the southeast of the Lodge. So I'm confused by your post, did you DRIVE to the Kalalau Lookout and then DRIVE back to the Canyon Trail trailhead?
sf7307 is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2011, 06:39 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,713
"did you DRIVE to the Kalalau Lookout and then DRIVE back to the Canyon Trail trailhead?"

YES--I DROVE to the Kalalau Lookout -- and then drove back to the Canyon Trail trailhead. Sorry for the confusion.

It's maybe a 10 minute drive each way. And from the Kalalau Lookout I continued driving (just a couple minutes) for more views before driving back to the Canyon trailhead.

And FYI, long before reaching the lodge there are several overlooks that are well-marked and offer spectacular canyon views. It's really quite easy -- because there's only one road, and everything is well-marked ;-).
Songdoc is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2011, 06:58 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,787
I've been to the lodge a number of times, but this is the first time we'll do any hiking up there. Thanks for the clarification!
sf7307 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
slbrown
United States
17
Jun 2nd, 2016 05:33 PM
james_lee
United States
8
Feb 25th, 2010 06:55 PM
Mousegeezer
United States
11
Oct 5th, 2007 11:27 PM
sueoz
United States
6
Jul 6th, 2006 05:54 PM
Big Red
United States
35
Aug 12th, 2003 12:43 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO