Comprehensive Resources for Princeville, Kilauea and Hanalei residents and visitors

Kauai Trails on the North Shore.

The North Shore of Kauai is a hiking heaven and you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy most of the Kauai trails. However, be careful as some can be very muddy and slippery. It is highly recommended that you research all Kauai trails carefully and make sure you get the necessary permits where required.

The 19 Kauai trails are:

Hanakapiai Falls Trail
Hihimanu Summit/Trail
Kalalau Trail (Nāpali Coast)
Kauapea Trail (Secret Beach)
Ke‘e Beach Trail (Kalalu Overlook)
Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse
Limahuli Garden and Preserve Path
Mokolea Point Trail
Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park
Okolehao Trail
Pali Ke Kua Trail (Hideaway Beach)
Powerline Trail
Pu‘u Pot Beach Trail (Club Med Ruins Trail)
Rocky Quarry Beach Trail
Sea Lodge Beach Trail
Queen’s Bath Trail
Waiakalua Beach Trail
Wai Koa Loop Trail (Stone Dam Trail and Wai Koa Plantation Trail)
Wyllie’s Beach Trail

Scroll below for details on all the different Kauai trails, including the distance, difficulty and duration of each trail.

 

Kauai Trails

For more photos of hiking trails, beaches and more visit the I Heart Princeville Photo Gallery.

 

Hanakapiai Falls Trail
Hanakapiai Falls Trail is one of the most beautiful hiking trails in all of Hawaii. You should allow most of your day to complete this popular but challenging trail. It leads to the first part of the Kalalau Trail towards Hanakpiai Beach before heading inwards along the Hankapiai Stream. The full length of the trail to the falls is 4.5 miles out and 4.5 miles back, but most people opt to hike only to the beach which is 2 miles out and 2 miles back. The area is subject to flooding and other weather conditions which may lead to closures, and it can be very dangerous near the river and the shorelines. Do not attempt to cross the river during heavy rains. Flash flooding can occur without notice. Check the current accessibility at Haena State Park.

Distance: 9 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: 5-6 hours
Elevation difference: 2,664 ft

Advance reservations are required for visitors (except state of Hawaiʻi residents). For reservations and information: https://www.gohaena.com/

Kauai Hiking Trails on the North Shore
Hanakapiai Falls on the Nāpali Coast.
Photographer: Tyler Stableford / Courtesy of Getty Images

Hihimanu Summit (via Okolehau and Himimanu Trail)
This is an exceptional hiking experience but it is challenging. You will likely not encounter many other people while exploring. There are some narrow paths, a lot of rope assisted climbs and high elevations so gloves are recommended. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.

Distance: 5.7 miles
Difficulty: Challenging
Duration: 4 hours
Elevation difference: 2,454 ft

Kalalau Trail (Nāpali Coast)
This hiking trail is a challenging 11-mile (one-way) coastal trail along the Nāpali Coast. You can hike the first 4.5 miles to Hanakapiai Falls without a permit but any further than that you a permit is required. The trail ends at the secluded Kalalau Beach. Make sure you stay for two nights to enjoy the beach as it will be it is a full-day hike back. Several parts of this trail are quite dangerous, and many hikers have fallen into trouble over the years. It is a trail for experienced hikers in good physical condition. Limited overnight parking is available with a valid overnight camping permit; otherwise, you must pre-book a shuttle or private pickup when camping overnight. Permits are required and Rangers do patrol the area. Usually requires advance booking of up to 4 months in advance.  https://www.kalalautrail.com/information/permits/

Distance: 22 miles out and back
Difficulty: High
Duration: 2 days
Elevation difference: 6,177 ft

Na Pali Coast Hiking Kauai Trail
Nāpali Coast Trail

Kauapea Trail (Secret Beach)
This is a popular trail for walking, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day. To find it, take the Kuhio Highway past Kīlauea and turn right on Kalihiwai Road. Follow the road for about 50 yards and then turn right into an unmarked, unpaved road. Proceed to the end and park. Nearby is the foot path leading to the west end of the beach.

Distance: 0.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: Half an hour
Elevation difference: 173 ft

Ke’e Beach – Kalalu Overlook
Start from the Kalalau Trailhead and hike 1/4 mile to a viewpoint. From there you can choose to turn back or continue on. If you continue I is uphill over uneven rocks and is often muddy and slippery. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash. Advance reservations are now required for all visitors (except state of Hawaii residents). Please see the state park website for reservations and information; https://www.gohaena.com/

Distance: 0.9 miles
Difficulty: Challenging
Duration: 45 minutes
Elevation difference: 420 ft

Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse
This is a very popular area for walking along a short, paved trail leading to the historic Daniel K. Inouye Kīlauea Point Lighthouse (builtin 1913). It’s a great location for spotting nesting sea birds and humpback whales (in the winter), so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. The Refuge is beautiful to visit year-round. Access requires a reservation and entry fee. For more information, visit:  https://www.kauairefuges.org/plan-your-visit.

Distance: 0.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 15 minutes
Elevation difference: 82 ft

Kauai Trails at the Kilauea Lighthouse

Limahuli Garden and Preserve
The Limahuli Garden and Preserve is a botanical garden and nature preserve on the North Shore of Kaua’i island, Hawaii. It is one of the five gardens of the nonprofit National Tropical Botanical Garden. This trail is great for hiking and walking and it’s unlikely you’ll encounter many other people.

Distance: 0.7 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 30 minutes
Elevation difference: 255 ft

Mokolea Point Trail
The rugged cliffs of Mokolea Point, part of the Kīlauea National Wildlife Refuge, are home to dramatic tide pools and the abandoned Kihili Rock Quarry. The quarry overlooks the crescent-shaped Kīlauea Bay from above the outlet of the Kīlauea River. The road to the promontory starts in Kīlauea and runs about one mile before it’s no longer maintained. You will need a 4WD vehicle to go any further or you’ll need to park and continue on foot.

Distance: 2.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: 1-2 hours
Elevation difference: 413 ft

Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park
Nāpali – the Cliffs in Hawaiian – is one of the most beautiful and remote areas on Kauai, but it isn’t just beautiful, it is also extremely dangerous. Many tourists have been rescued or stranded in the wilderness because of extreme flooding and the unpredictable riptides The 11-mile trail begins at Ke`e Beach and traverses along narrow footpaths on high cliffs above ocean, ending at Kalalau Valley with many with steep inclines and declines. Trail conditions may range from muddy puddles to dry, crumbly rock. Eroding cliffs and big surf sometimes take out small sections of trail. The trail is rated a ‘9’ out of ’10’ in degree of difficulty by the Sierra Club. Camping is by permit only at Hanakapi`ai (2 miles), Hanakoa (6 miles), and Kalalau (11 miles). Day use permit is required when hiking further than the 2-mile valley; Hanakapiai.

There is no stand alone “hiking permits.” In order to hiking trails from Haena State Park to Hanakāpī‘ai Beach or Hanakāpī‘ai Falls visitors need to purchase Parking and Entry Reservations for Hā‘ena SP. Make parking and entry reservations at www.gohaena.com. In order to hike past Hanakāpī‘ai Beach along the Kalalalau Trail a valid camping permit for Napali Coast State Wilderness Park is required, whether or not you choose to camp.

For more information visit https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/kauai/napali-coast-state-wilderness-park/park-info/

Pali Ke Kua Trail (Hideaway Beach)
This is not really a trial but a climb down to Hideaway Beach. Wear good shoes and be careful as it is a very steep path and people have gotten hurt. Use the public parking lot between the 1 Hotel Hanalei and the Pali Ke Kua Condos. Check ahead as the path is often closed.

Distance: Almost straight down
Difficulty: Challenge
Duration: 10 minutes down
Elevation difference: Steep descent

Okolehao Trail (Hanalei River Trail and Hihimanu Trail)
As you enter Hanalei, cross the iron bridge over Hanalei River and take an immediate left and follow Ohiki Road (the road between the river and the taro patches) to the trail head and parking. Designated parking for the trail is on the left and starts near the end of Ohiki Road. This trail will give you a workout, but you will be rewarded with captivating views of Hanalei Bay, Kīlauea Lighthouse, and the Napali Coast. The Hihimanu Ridge Hike continues on this same path but should not be attempted as it requires ropes in many places.

Distance: 2.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to High
Duration: 1-2 hours
Incline: 853 ft

Powerline Trail
Powerline is a difficult trail that literally cuts through the island from the North Shore to the upper East Side. Go to Kapaka Street, which is up the road from Princeville Ranch Stables. The beginning of the trail is at the start of a dirt road used to access the electric transmission lines for maintenance, the route follows the eastern boundaries of Halelea Forest Reserve, ending near the Keahua Forestry Arboretum in the upper Wailua area. There is a spectacular view of the island’s interior as well as distant sweeping ocean views. Be aware that this trail system is not maintained.

Distance: 13 miles one way
Difficulty: Strenuous
Duration: All Day

Puu Pot Beach (Club Med Ruins Trail)
Also known by its historical name, Kauakaniaunu or Hanalei River Ridge, and its popular name “Club Med Ruins,” this beautiful promontory borders the Hanalei River and Pu‘u Poa Beach. With a dramatic view of Hanalei Bay it is perhaps the most valuable and desirable piece of property on Kaua’i. It was named “Club Med Ruins” as a result of a failed 60 condo development by Honolulu developer Bruce Stark; the poured foundations and some walls can still be seen today.  It is an easy route that can be completed under an hour. It starts at the end of Plantation Road at the Nourish Hanalei Stand. Take the gate on the right to start and then 100 yards in take the left gate. The initial walk is very comfortable stroll but the last part, as you descend to the ocean, needs to be navigated carefully.

Distance: 1.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Duration: One hour
Elevation difference: 200 ft

Queens Bath Trail – Cautionary warning
The Queen’s Bath is a unique tidal pool surrounded by igneous rock and it has become extremely popular for hiking and swimming. The tide pool is a dangerous area and many people have been killed, injured, or needed rescue, so be very cautious as you descend, especially after rain the trail is very muddy and slippery. Queen’s Bath is closed in the winter and if the gates are closed you should not enter. There are no restroom facilities of any kind and trespassing on neighboring homes is not permitted. Parking is limited in this neighborhood and parking enforcement now consists of barnacle, a light-weight device equipped with GPS that is attached to the windshield using two large suction cups, preventing the vehicle from being driven. Citations are then paid over the phone to secure a release code.

Distance: 0.8 mi
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: Half an hour
Elevation difference: 100 ft

Rock Quarry Beach
This beach lies at the end of an unmarked dirt road and is backed by forest and enclosed by rock walls from the old quarry. It is usually a quiet beach which is the outlet of the Kīlauea River that creates a freshwater pool behind the sandbar. The pool is also a good launching place to kayak up the Kīlauea Stream. Dogs are welcome and may be off leash in some areas.

Distance: 1.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: Under an hour
Elevation difference: 285 ft

Sealodge Trail
This trail is on private property and may not be used without prior permission.

Waiakalua Beach Trail
To start the trial, take the Kīlauea Farm sign on N. Wailapa Road a few miles south of Kīlauea.  Turn towards the ocean drive to the end and then turn left on the dirt road that ends at the beach overlook. There are two trails, and both are steep and muddy. The easier one to the left goes to spectacular Waiakalua Beach and takes 15 – 20 minutes to get to there and back. The other trial takes 30 – 40 minutes to get to Pilaa Beach and back.

Distance: 0.4 miles
Difficulty: Challenging
Duration: 30 minutes
Elevation difference: 154 ft

Wai Koa Loop (Stone Dam Trail and Wai Koa Plantation Trail)
This is a popular trail for hiking, mountain biking, and trail running, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day. The trail is on private property, but you may access if you sign a waiver at the Anaina Hou Welcome Center. You can start your walk from there or alternately start at the Kaua’i North Shore Dog Park. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash. The walk passes through the Wai Koa Plantation, the largest Mahogany Forest in the United States. Owners have requested that hikers stay on the marked trail and not attempt to access the Stone Dam.

Distance: 3.7 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 2 hours
Elevation difference: 813 ft

Wyllie Beach Hiking Trail

Wyllie’s Beach Trail
This popular trial can be complete in under half an hour. Although there are areas that are steep, this is generally considered an easy walk. Park just outside in the public access lot, which is located just before the entrance of the Westin Resort in Princeville.

Distance: 0.8 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: Half an hour
Elevation difference: 265 ft

Note to readers:
Although we have a separate section for Kauai Beaches, Kauai Trials and Botanical Gardens, theses attractions are often intertwined so please review the other sections to find the information you may be looking for.
Best Beaches on the North Shore
Botanical Gardens on Kauai North Shore

For more information on other websites providing info on Kauai trails visit:
https://www.alltrails.com/lists/kauai-hikes-north-shore
https://makanacharters.com/kauai-north-shore-hikes/
https://www.journeyera.com/kauai-north-shore-hikes/
https://www.kauai.com/hikes
https://vacations.hawaiilife.com/blog/kauai/top-hiking-trails-north-and-east-side-kauai
https://theplanetd.com/best-hikes-in-kauai-hawaii/

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