FATMAP difficulty grade
The Kalalau Trail goes 11 miles each way and while it can be done in a single day, most hikers camp en route and take 2 days over it (camping is only permitted at a forested streamside campsite at Hanakoa Valley (at the 6 mile mark) and Kalalau Beach - the finish point of the trail.
Permits are required to camp and a permit is also required if you want to hike the whole trail in a day (ie.
without camping), although it is permitted to hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls and back without a permit.
Visit the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resource Online Reservation System to reserve your permit.
The scenery and terrain on the trail is staggering in both its quality and variety, with the wonderful views of the Pacific Ocean, sheer cliffs, waterfalls, streams, valleys and even stone walled terraces where early settlers lived and farmed taro (a type of vegetable).
The trail crosses 5 major valleys and undulates all the way to Kalalau beach and there are a number of river crossings which can be treacherous after bad weather (a good rule of thumb is to never cross a river deeper than your knees) but quickly return to normal levels when the sun reappears.
The trail itself can also be slippery after bad weather, and the risks of hiking this trail are exacerbated by the lack of cell phone coverage on it.
Despite these risks, the vast majority of hikers have a wonderful time on this trail and return to civilisation confirming its "epic" reputation!