Being centrally located on Kauai has been a wonderful thing! On days off when we want to get out and hike we can choose to go all the way North or all the way West on the island all in about an hours time. With so many hikes available on the island we have tried to hit the top rated ones that the locals or guidebooks have mentioned. Kalepa Ridge Trail is one of those amazing hikes that a local said to not pass up. (It is also spotlighted in the Ultimate Kauai Guidebook)
To get to this trail you must drive to Koke’e State Park in Waimea. The beginning of the “trail” is located at the Kalalau Lookout, just behind the fenced area on the left of the lookout. The first part of the trail is wet, muddy and steep. Prepare to test your hiking skills during the first .5 mile but once your past that it opens up to incredible views of the Kalalau Valley. The rest of the hike down is pretty mellow as you weave in and out of brush and trees and along some pretty high drop offs along the edge of the trail as it follows the ridge on the way down. Trekking poles or a walking sticks are highly suggested.
On our hike we came across a family of wild goats crossing the trail. We sat and watched them for about a half hour just as they roamed around and eventually settled down to soak up the sun on some rocks on the side of the cliff. We made our way to the end where we both sat in awe at the panoramic views of the Kalalau Valley and Napali Coast. We even got to see some people on the Kalalau beach (we will be making our hike there in March!)
Overall the Kalepa Ridge Trail is a short but moderately difficult trail in some spots. The views are to die to for though, this is definitely a trail that we will be hiking again.
With Lucas being a hiking guide on the island, we are constantly spending our free time hiking and exploring different trails across the island of Kauai. The Last two days we ventured out and did two hikes, one in Waimea Canyon called Awaawapuhi Trail and the other on the North shore going to Hanakapi’ai Falls.
The Awaawaphui Trail is a little over 6 miles RT. You can get to this trail by driving up to Kokee State Park in Waimea Canyon, at about mile 17 the trailhead is within a gravel parking lot on your left. It takes you from about 4,000ft elevation to the valley rim of Nualolo and Awa’awapuhi valleys at 2,500 ft. The majority of the hike is through shaded forest, with a continuous downhill trek on the way to a jaw dropping, panoramic view of the Napali Coast. One of the most amazing views of the island in our opinion. After an easy hike down, you must prepare yourself for the hike back up to the trailhead, 3.2 miles uphill which goes by pretty quick as your mind is constantly in awe of the view you have just seen.
After our amazing hike on the west side of the island we decided to go to the complete opposite side of the island to the North shore and do a hike we have had our eye on since we arrived on the island, the hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach and to Hanakapi’ai Falls. The hike to the end of Hanakapi’ai Falls is 8 miles RT. You can hike to the beach about 2 miles in if you want a short day hike but we suggest if your able, to do the entire hike there and back to the falls. Both are on the beginning section of the Kalalau trail which we have permits to do in mid march but we wanted to get our feet wet and see what the first part of the trail was all about.
We attempted to do this trail about a week ago but we were quickly halted about a mile and half into the hike when a lady broke her ankle and had to be heli-rescued out. That held us back about an hour which we didn’t prepare for and had to turn back around at the beach area as we were running out of time to be back before the sun went down. We arrived at the trailhead this time with the mindset that today was going to be the day we made it to the falls, and that is exactly what we did! The first 2 miles of the trail are a mix of uphill and downhill but you get tremendous views of Ke’e Beach and the Napali Coastline. When we made it to the beach we found a spot to take a little break before heading another 2 miles to the Falls. The hike to the falls was a bit more challenging than the first 2 miles we had done. You must hop across rocks to get over a few streams, and hike through some muddy areas as well as climb up wet mud covered rocks on the last .5 mile of the trail. But as you keep going you are greeted by some of the clearest water and small waterfalls as it leads you up for the grand prize at the end, Hanakapi’ai Falls. When you finally see the grand finale it is absolutely stunning! One of the best waterfalls we have seen in person, Lucas compared it to some of the Falls at Yosemite but with this one you can actually get up close and personal as well as swim in the pool below. Lucas braved the cold and quickly jumped in and right back out. The hike out went by fast as you knew what to expect on the way back. It seems like a long hard hike, but completely worth every step!
After 2 days of hiking a combined 14.5 miles we decided to take a day of rest, laying around the house and later going to spend some time on the beach! A much needed beach bum day 🙂