Friday, February 20, 2009

The Kalalau Trail

Sure, the Kalalau Trail can make you feel like skipping. The 11-mile groove in Kauai’s roadless Napali Coast is one of the world’s most popular and scenically staggering hikes. But it is also demanding. Even big-league trekkers who knock out 20-plus miles in the Rockies or the Sierra will not make the Kalalau Valley on a round-trip day hike. Slippery footing, an undulating trail, and steep drop-offs call for caution and a slower pace.

If hiking the Kalalau, bring big-boy boots or lowcut Gortex athletic shoes, a hiking pole, plenty of food and water, and prepare for sun and rain.

You don’t need to do the whole trail to get the thrill since spectacular views of the coast are achieved after only a half-mile, and the trail’s best beach (though treacherous for swimming) along the way, Hanakapiai is two miles in. A great waterfall lies two miles upstream from this beach, via a trail through a jungle valley. For most adventurers, the eight-mile round-trip falls hike will fill the bill.