Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cruising Kauai's Kalalau Trail

The first two miles of the Kalalau Trail—an 11-mile cliffhanger on the roadless Napali Coast to Kalalau Valley—is now built for speed, thanks to a million-plus-dollar grant (and lots of elbow grease) that widened the trail and added water bars and log steps. A popular day hike to boulder-strewn Hanakapiai Beach is a four-mile roundtrip hike through a garden of tropical plants with vistas of the coast along the way. The trail suffers from over-popularity at times, but it is popular for good reason.

Though the Kalalau Trail is improved, hikers still have a panoply of choices to suffer death or serious injury on this trail. To come back in one piece: stay back from trail edges to avoid drop-offs, don't swim at the beach, and avoid the stream during rainy conditions (flash floods), and keep the kids in tow. And, yeah, don't take a header or a butt plant on rocks. A hiking pole helps. Having said all that, average hikers will have no problems.