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Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi'ai Falls
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mini location map2012-11-26
38 by photographer avatarMike_Fels
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Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi'ai FallsKauai, HI
Kauai, HI
Hiking avatar Nov 26 2012
Hiking11.30 Miles 2,094 AEG
Hiking11.30 Miles   6 Hrs   2 Mns   2.25 mph
2,094 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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A friend and I had decided we wanted to do a hike different from the usual. So we ended up on Kauai to hike the Kalalau Trail along the Napali coast to first beach (Hanakapi'ai Beach) then to turn inland to Hanakapi'ai Falls. Our wives decided to sit this one out.

We were staying in Princeville so it was only about a 40 minute trip to the trailhead at Ke'e Beach. The hike started at 7:00am. The weather was great, overcast so we didn't have to worry about excessive sun. There hadn't been a lot of rain recently so the amount of mud on the trail was much less than usual.

Starting out as early as we did (considering it was Hawaiian time) we had the trail to first beach to ourselves. At the 1/2 mile point there we were at a high point in the trail giving us the last beautiful view of Ke'e beach. Probably the roughest portions of the trail to first beach were in this first 1/2 mile. There were places where seeps caused some very slippery areas in the trail.

At 2 miles we hit first beach. The first official greeting upon reaching the beach is a warning sign saying "HANAKAPIA BEACH WARNING! DO NOT GO NEAR THE WATER UNSEEN CURRENTS HAVE KILLED" then about a hundred hash marks "VISITORS." This is pretty common at most northern Kauai beaches in the winter. The rocky portion of the beach is literally covered in hundreds of cairns. My guess it probably started out with a few monuments to people lost in the surf, but then it got popular just to build them. A group of 4 people were camping here, otherwise the beach was empty.

Tide was fairly low when we arrived, but appeared to be coming in. During the exploration of the beach I went out to check out a small cave. As soon as I stepped into the cave sploosh a wave hit oblique to the entrance but suddenly what had been a dry entry now had 4 inches of salt water to wade trough to be back to dry land. I figured, oh well it wasn't going to be the last time my hiking boots got wet.

The hike to the falls again was fantastic in its views. The trail was a bit rough with tree roots and branches. There were 5 stream crossings. I learned years ago to wear non-waterproof boots and just wade into the streams. The deepest water I had to hit was just over 2 feet deep. My friend was trying to stay dry by rock hopping which worked well until about the third crossing when suddenly he looked like he was trying to get intimate with a large boulder. After that his high water line was about equal to mine. Luckily his camera survived the brief dip.

There were probably a good ten minor waterfalls in the stream and it's tributaries along this trail.

Suddenly through the trees we got our first view of Hanakapi'ai Falls. It exceeded our expectations. Shortly after that was a sign saying "END OF TRAIL" and another "DANGER FALLING ROCKS DO NOT GO BEYOND THIS POINT". So we did what any self respecting guy would do, continued on. It was well worth it, shortly we were right at the base. There was a great pond for swimming, if it were wanted. I bet the falling rocks really made a nice splash. About 50 feet up on one side there was a wide cave opening that offered a great view. The shear vertical walls curved around the falls. Green ferns and mosses covered most surfaces.

Hanakapi'ai Falls is said to be as high as 1600 feet tall but only the bottom 410 feet are visible from the trail. No matter how you measure it Hanakapi'ai Falls is one of the most beautiful falls I have seen.

We got sprinkled on a few times during the hike, but heck it's Hawaii. We got in some minor side trail excursions, but there wasn't much opportunity. Luckily we had our hiking boots and hiking poles to make it past slippery areas without problems.

Probably one of the hardest points of this hike was to not stop every ten feet to do a 360 saying oooh! and aaah! Even so I took a good hundred pictures during this hike, none of which came close to portraying what it really looked like. There wasn't a view that wasn't first rate. Some areas of the trail were in pretty poor shape others were excellent.
Cane Toad

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