Light Source Photography by Lee Scott | ke'e to hanakapi'ai valley

ke'e to hanakapi'ai valley

July 30, 2014

sunrise on the kalalau trail

sunrise seen from the kalalau trail, kauai, hawaii

If i hike the kalalau, i always start early. Especially in the summer time when parking at ke'e can get crazy! 

We pulled into the parking lot at ke'e beach just before 6 am. There were already more than a few cars, and even a few people drying off after their (early) morning swim. (Side note, in the SUMMER it is quite popular to swim into hanakapi'ai beach and run out along the trail. But only in the SUMMER as winter surf conditions make this way too dangerous).

Our planned route was to hike to the bamboo grove in hanakapi'ai valley, then go up the hill a way's toward space out rock and then return to ke'e for a little beach time. I'll include a few pics of hanakapi'ai falls in this blog though, just so you get an idea of what awaits you at the end of the valley.

quintessential kauaiQuintessential KauaiKalalau Trail, Kauai quintessential kauai, kauai, hawaii

This view is from the .25 mile marker of the kalalau trail. It is one of my favorite views of the entire hike. They recently cleared out the heiau (hawaiian temple) dedicated to the hula that sits in ruins right below this spot. If you only hike a portion of the kalalau trail make sure you at least go this far-- mile marker .25. 


If you continue on the trail you continue to climb up the verdant cliffs one rocky step at a time. The views get more expansive after you round the bend at mile marker .5 and from here on out you are hiking the napali coast. The trail winds up and down smaller valleys in a rather monotonous (but beautiful) hike of red path, green hills and green apple and blue sea.

the napali coast seen from the kalalau trail, kauai, hawaii

This is why you are doing this hike! Views like this fill your soul with aloha!   

Two miles in and you arrive at hanakapi'ai beach where in the summer golden sand welcomes you with a rush of running waves. In the winter, however, a vicious shore break and nasty currents warn you off the beach and away from the surf. 

hanakapi'ai beach and wave hanakapi'ai beach in da summer, kauai, hawaii 

We rested here for a few pics and snacks, took off our shoes and frolicked on the beach. We didn't make any cairns, but we saw a lot of 'em!

Zen StonesZen Stonesa stack of stones, known as a cairn, at hanakapi'ai beach mark two miles on the kalalau trail.
Hanakapi'ai Beach, Kauai

zen stones, hanakapi'ai beach, kauai, hawaii

Well rested and refreshed by the cool hanakapi'ai stream, we turn mauka and head into hanakapi'ai valley. Here the trail narrows and becomes a little more difficult as you climb above the stream and enter into the valley jungle. Our destination on the day was the bamboo grove, maybe a quarter mile in from the beach.

bamboo in hanakapi'ai valley

bamboo grove, hanakapi'ai valley, kauai, hawaii


big tree, hanakapi'ai valley, kauai, hawaii

Continuing on towards hanakapi'ai falls, you will cross hanakapi'ai stream several times. Generally, summertime conditions are relatively dry and rock hopping makes the stream crossings pretty easy. During the wetter winter months, the entire trail becomes much more difficult as the stream rises and the mud thickens. 

Hanakapi'ai FallsDeptha look into hanakapi'ai valley and hanakapi'ai falls
Hanakapi'ai Falls Trail, Hanakapi'ai Valley, Kauai

depth, hanakapi'ai falls, kauai, hawaii


We hike back towards the beach and the kalalau trail proper and decide to go up the hill a little ways toward space out rock. Naomi's never been up this way so i wanted to show her these cool plants that line the cliff all the way up. 

along the kalalau trail

the kalalau trail in green and blue, kalalau trail, kauai, hawaii

We turn back here with the promise of hiking to space out rock next week. 

blue and green, kalalau trail, kauai, hawaii

one last glance over the shoulder, kalalau trail, kauai, hawaii

Our hike lasted 5 and half hours and we climbed 1,637 feet and descended 1,631 feet in about 5 miles. 

Afterwards, i enjoyed Hazelnut Ale from Rogue Breweries and an afternoon nap.



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