Hiking along cliffs on the Kalepa Ridge Trail

This specific hike wasn’t on our already packed Kauai trip itinerary, but I’m glad we found it! The plan for the day was to drive from our condo in Princeville all around to the other side of the island to visit the Waimea Canyon (aka the Grand Canyon of the Pacific) and find a hike in the area. Over an excellent pre-hike breakfast at Kountry Kitchen in Kapaa, we looked through the guidebook and the internet and found Kalepa Ridge Trail on the AllTrails app.

Hike overview: ~3.5 miles total (out & back), ~2-3 hours
Trails: Kalepa Ridge Trail

This is an unmarked, unofficial trail that starts at the Kalalau Lookout point, which is almost at end of the main road through Waimea Canyon State Park. There’s a parking lot and restrooms at the lookout, and plenty of tourists taking in the views of the Kalalau Valley. Once on the trail, we saw a total of <10 other hikers during our entire hike.

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The Kalalau Lookout on a cloudy day

The trailhead is a bit hidden to the left of the lookout. Walk all the way to the railing and enjoy the views of the valley that you will soon be hiking along the edge of. Then turn left and follow the railing to where it becomes a chain link fence. On the other side of the fence you will see a path — that’s the beginning of the trail. When we were there, there was a hole in the fence big enough to climb through. The easier way is to go through the gate about 20 feet away.

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One entrance to the trail. Looks legit.

The trail is unmarked but there is really only one obvious path. You’ll know when you get to the end because you can’t go any further without walking off the edge of a cliff. From that spot you can see the Na Pali Coast, the ending point of the famous Kalalau Trail (part of which we did the next day).

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It makes sense why this is not in any guidebooks — at times it can be dangerous as there are literally cliffs on both sides of a narrow trail. But take extra care near the steep drops and it’ll be an awesome hike with incredible views.

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Clouds hiding 1000 ft drops

Apparently this is actually a hunter access route for locals to hunt for pigs and goats. We didn’t see any pigs or goats, or hunters for that matter. We only saw chickens… in the parking lot.

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Some portions were grassy and wide

We happened to go on a cloudy day so the views were often obscured but it felt like we were hiking among the clouds. At the times when it cleared up, the scene was pretty freaking cool. I would definitely come back to do it again on a hopefully clearer day.

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Really narrow trail along the ridge with drops on both sides
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Views of the Kalalau Valley through a brief clearing in the clouds

After the hike, we stopped at a couple lookouts on the drive back out of Waimea Canyon. Then we made a required stop at Porky’s Food Truck for a Kalua pork hot dog and got massive amounts of shave ice at JoJo’s down the road.

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Waimea Canyon from a lookout

Tips:
– Wear shoes with proper grip — it gets slippery in sections
– Bug spray
– Long pants would be nice — some parts of the path are overgrown and narrow so you’ll be brushing up against branches and ferns

Resources:
Street view of the gate at the trailhead
http://www.hawaii-guide.com/kauai/hiking_trails/kalepa_ridge_overlooking_kalalau_valley
http://www.alohafrom808.com/2013/01/kalepa-ridge-kokee-kauai-trip-2013/
http://alltrails.com/trail/us/hawaii/kalepa-ridge-trail

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One Comment

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  1. I always like those smaller trails. Good tips about the bug spray and long pants. Glad you didn’t slip off the edge.

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