Makaleha Trail is a 2.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Kapaʻa, Kauai, Hawaii that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round.

Length2.8 miElevation gain849 ftRoute typeOut & back
HikingForestRiverViewsWaterfallWildflowersWildlifeBugsMuddyOver grownRockyScramble
Description
Waypoints (4)
Facilities
Getting There

A must do trail for advanced hikers. This trail ends with 3 waterfalls and if you want to continue for another .5 mile, you will end at another waterfall. Lush green forest, cool stream and after 1.5 miles, you will see the first 3 waterfalls. You will climb over boulders in the stream and on top of branches of fallen trees. Optionally, you can continue on another .5 mile to the waterfall on the right. Jump in the ice cold water for a nice swim.

Parking is at the water tanks at the end of Kahuna Road north of Kapaa.

Once parked, you pass the water tanks and follow a dirt road until it ends. Continue past the end of the road. Do not take the small trail to the right that will take you to the water tunnels. You will need to cross the stream left about 40 yards past the road. If you look across the stream there will be an opening right next to an old concrete bridge. The trail is not maintained so there will be times where you might venture off course. Stay close to the stream and you will not get too far off course. You will cross the stream several times. There are large boulders that you will need to climb sometimes. The track is muddy at times as well due to the amount of rain this part of the country gets.

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Reviews (432)
Photos (246)
Activities (299)
Completed (814)
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Loren Feldman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarApril 16, 2021
Hiking

Wow. That was INTENSE. We were not expecting that. Boulders. Mud pits. Waist deep River wading. I ATE IT multiple times. Was it pretty? Yea. But that was not for the weak. Very advanced. There is no true trail just stay close to the river. It took us 5 and a half hours to get to the final waterfall. Beautiful but proceed with caution LOL

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Elissa Conomos
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 12, 2021
HikingBugsMuddyOver grownRockyScramble

Some areas are not well marked but as long as you follow the footsteps and stay course with the water you’ll be fine! Wear shoes with good grip and prepare for for some water wading, rock/tree climbing, and bushwhacking.. trust me the waterfall at the end is worth it! Climb up the ledge on the left and jump off (just make sure you jump towards the waterfall where it is deeper). A true multi-terrain hike ;)

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Briana Nettie
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarApril 4, 2021
Road biking

Awful trail. Out of the 2 hours I was on this trail maybe 4 minutes in total were on a marked trail. This obstacle course of hell is mostly a mix of rock climbing and swimming and then then few times you do walk it’s in mud and you are constantly ducking over tree limbs. Waterfall at the end is unimpressive and dirty. Convinced this trial is made to trick tourists into do the shittiest trail known to man

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Lisa Gerber
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 28, 2021
Hiking

Rugged trail with lots of navigation challenges. Download the map and plan for a good adventure, full body workout and totally worth it!

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Christopher Caulfield
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMarch 27, 2021
Hiking

READ THIS - here’s my unfiltered review: I’ve done hikes across the country and this was by far the most annoying hike I’ve been on. The end result is rewarding - beautiful waterfall and you can swim in. Why annoying? It’s incredibly easy to get off trail but to be honest -75% of the time there was really notrail! Very slippery, muddy, TONS OF BUGS, lots of branches in the way to go under or over and SO MUCH bush whacking. I definitely will not be doing this trail again - but the final view again is incredible. If you do it: COME mentally prepared to be frustrated most of the hike from the lack of trail quality, HYDRATE, bring swimsuit, and bug spray. If you have health or joint/back issues - this hike is NOT for you.

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Curtis Lewis
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Hiking
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Michael Coston
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Hiking

2nd time doing this and still got a bit lost. Just know you’re pretty much going straight up the stream, but there are several “trails” you can take. This hike is definitely an adventure!

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Keith Eshelman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 22, 2021
HikingMuddyOver grownScrambleWashed out

Great adventure hike but with all the recent rain the trail was hard to follow, lots of washes that veer you off trail if you weren’t paying attention. Was told as a rule of thumb to just stay close to the river and that helped a lot. I didn’t find the all trails map/route exact and accurate, just plan to have to troubleshoot your way up there.

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Sheila San Juan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 8, 2021
Hiking

My husband and I did this hike on Monday, February 1. We started at around 10:30am and got back to our car by 4:30pm. So it was a total of 6 hours to Secret Falls and back! Hands down one of our favorite hikes, ever. We just loved how lush and diverse the flora was. We walked through a bamboo forest, waded across the river several times, climbed through branches, and hiked over boulders. Slipped in the mud a couple times and fell on my butt. But it was so much fun! Oh, and spotted some white tailed tropicbirds soaring, which are very majestic like. Shoes: I wore Teva open-toed sandals and did just fine (I’ve done at least 40-50 miles on the sandals already). My husband wore some thin-soled grippy shoes (kind of like Merrill’s glove shoe line). - bring a light rain jacket - Some areas have lots of mosquitoes (I went home with 28 bites) - not recommended for inexperienced hikers - hope you don’t mind mud! - it’s a little easy to lose sight of the trail. I recommended downloading the map. Just remember to be alongside the river.

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Daniel Skoldberg
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 1, 2021
HikingGreat!

Pretty fun hike. Beautiful scenery and a refreshing waterfall. The first 2 river crossings were pretty obvious... I think I crossed 2 more times towards the end when the trail is basically hugging the river. Took me 1hr and 15 mins to reach the falls.. got a little lost on the way back but all in good fun. I brought felt bottom tabi’s and couldn’t picture it any other way.

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E B
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 24, 2021
Hiking

You can’t do the river crossings without some wading. But this hike is really fun for a high difficulty trail. It’s not totally obvious from the map where the crossings are so keep an eye out. Lots of different terrain and the waterfall pool at the end is really excellent.

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Olivia Ghee
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Hiking

Very disappointing. There was no clear spot to cross the stream so we had to turn back. We are experienced hikers and wanted to cross but maybe the water level was too high for that to happen.

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Naja Hartford
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I hiked this trail in May 2019

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Chana Chana
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Hiking

At the end you will get what you work hard for. Should leave yourself the mark where to cross steams. And be prepare to get lost. Have fun!!

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M Zerres
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 28, 2020
Hiking

Not the longest. It’s the 2.8 miles described. And not steep. But you will use all of your skills. The payoff at the end is worth it. Getting out seemed harder than getting in. Enjoy

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Arch P
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 14, 2020
Hiking

Amazing water falls, but quite a trek up. Muddy slippery and hard to navigate as there is no clear path. You will have to zig zag across the river a few times. Definitely feels like more than 2.8 miles. I figure at least twice that length. WEAR shoes with good wet traction.

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Kealaonaona Iopa
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Hiking
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Kai Srihaput
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HikingGreat!MuddyRocky

2.8 my favorite I’ve done those far. Sometime trails is hard to navigate. Stay near the water.8

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Kealaonaona Iopa
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Hiking
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Kealaonaona Iopa
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarOctober 4, 2020
Hiking
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craig netzer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 12, 2020
HikingMuddyScramble

There are a ton of trees that have been knocked down over the years, and HAU bushes so you’re constantly lifting your legs up super high or bending underneath branches. This triples the effort involved as it is most of the trail. The rocks are very slippery. The bamboo forest is cool and the waterfall at the end is spectacular. There is no way that the distance is 2.8 miles one way I got 4.4 miles one way and 8.3 miles total. Even with a break, it took a good near six hours of hiking. Super muddy. Anything you wear will get wet and muddy. One of the few trails on Kauai were bug spray is recommended this is the third time I have done this trail and I’ve let myself go and I’m out of shape so I needed 11 packets of mustard to keep from fully locking up with severe cramps by the end of the trail.

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