Makaleha Trail is a 4.2 kilometer 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, trail running, and rock climbing and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 4.2 km Elevation Gain: 258 m Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly

hiking

rock climbing

trail running

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

over grown

rocky

scramble

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.

hiking
bugs
muddy
off trail
over grown
scramble
3 days ago

The second best hike on Kauai! This is a very difficult hike and is easy to get lost on. Once you enter the forest you will follow the path for approx 500 yards before your first river crossing to your left. You will see the trail on the other side from where you are, but most people miss this, just look for a piece of steel sticking out from the river...this is where you cross. If at any time you feel like you're on the wrong path, (you probably are) just remember to keep following the river and you'll pick it up again. There are several trails that climb up towards the mountain, Stay Off of these!!! you always want to be down close to the river. Look for the piles of rock to point you in the right direction. The trail will be muddy and you will be crawling through and over a literal Jungle Gym. The safest way to navigate through all of this is by going barefoot, a lot of people injure themselves from wearing the wrong shoes. Bring plenty of water and snacks, and definitely avoid this trail if it's raining, because flooding here is a very real danger.

hiking
bugs
muddy
off trail
over grown
rocky
scramble
7 days ago

For those seeking a challenging hike through fallen trees, mud, running water and boulders this hike is for you. The trail is difficult to follow, and sometimes requires you to cross the river. My advice is to wear good shoes that you don't mind getting muddy and wet, and stay to the left as much as possible on your way up.

hiking
bugs
muddy
off trail
over grown
rocky
scramble
8 days ago

hiking
11 days ago

very rough trail. not maintained at all so not recommended for beginners. very easy to get lost but just follow the river and you'd be okay. Try to go with a local or go in groups. The waterfall and the swim at the end it well worth it

hiking
muddy
over grown
rocky
scramble
14 days ago

I started this hike at 6:40 this morning, and I was the only one on the trail. Not bad, I followed directions from different people and found the concrete slab, and the rope on the tree, but still got turned around a LOT. Then it started raining. Got scared and turned back, disappointed, but then ran into a fantastic family of 4 going up. Decided to turn around again and go with them since I felt better about a group then alone. We followed the trail on both the left and right side, and crossed the stream when we had to. Found the stacked rocks, crossed to the right, and continued on the trail. At times we weren’t sure it was the right way due to the amount of crawling in, over, under, and around trees, but we finally made it (at this point I was at 5 hours of hiking for myself because I could get lost in a paper bag) The falls and views were beautiful and the water was so refreshing!! I felt like it was a scene from king kong or Jurassic Park. It was muddy and slippery and I nailed the same toenail 4 times (say goodbye to that one), and the drizzle made it worse sometimes. I wore my chacos and was fine but would have loved keens or something to cover my toes at least. I also wore leggings and was glad I did. On the way back I’m pretty sure we all took a completely different path, but still made it safely. Once you get an idea of the trails it makes it easier to spot them. Either way, you can go to the left or right of the river and get there and back again. Look for footprints and machete marks on the trees from time to time too. There’s only a few spots with pink tape helping to guide you, but if you keep sight/sound of the river you should be ok! Worth the struggle.

hiking
off trail
20 days ago

Start early like others have suggested. Trail is very hard to follow unless you have some type of guide. Woods, streams, bamboo Forrest on the first part then stream crossings and boulder hopping, and a jungle gym of climbing over crazy trees until you get back in the stream and hop up to the falls. This can get very dangerous if it starts raining past a sprinkle, the river rises and you are chancing not being able to cross again to get back. Overall a great trail although we didn’t make it to the falls due to said rain. Much more difficult when wet. We hiked for nearly 6 hours

hiking
28 days ago

We started too late in the day and had too much difficulty finding the trail and had to turn around. That jungle is thick and we were running out of sunlight - we had to use a flashlight in some parts! Go early in the day to see where other people have been. There were a couple of small swimming spots right at the beginning that were nice.

hiking
muddy
over grown
1 month ago

Start early to beat the crowds. By 10 people were passing us up as we are coming back down. You follow the river all the way up to the falls- it’s farther than most people thought. Trails are hard to follow. There are a bunch weaving in and out along both sides. Hug the left side of the river. We did the right side out of ignorance thinking it was the only trail and it’s easy to get turned around. The landscaping is just beautiful. Lush vegetation, big trees, bamboo groves, and lots of boulders. Not a hike for the casual hiker or anyone who would have difficulty bending low under trees, stepping over high branches, or walking from boulder to boulder. Trail is slippery and lots of places that could be difficult for some. Bring bug spray and a bathing suit if you want to go swimming at the falls- you will get wet and muddy in this hike. All around a 5-star hike for anyone who likes a challenge with a great reward. I give it for stars four lack of a clearly marked trail.

hiking
1 month ago

The first half of this trail is definitely moderate, but overall I would rate it as hard. There are high consequence / no fall zones where you will need four points of contact on a slippery muddy ascent. You will be contorting your body around thick jungle trees/roots/growth. If a flash flood were to occur while you are in a river bed portion- it could be fatal as there is not always an easy path to high ground. Many slick parts where you can easily get injured, and you will definitely need to use route finding skills. Would not recommend for casual hikers or small children. Overall this is an amazing jungle hike through beautiful terrain and an amazing waterfall with the most refreshing swimming hole imaginable at the end. If you are not sure where the trail is, best bet is to follow the river up until you see the next trail opening on the bank. Lots of helpful locals were on the trail lapping us barefoot. Probably took us two hours in and an hour back (much easier once you know the route)

hiking
muddy
off trail
over grown
scramble
1 month ago

High on the adventure scale with barely defined trails on the first half followed by a completely trail free section before arriving at the fork in the river about 3/4ths of the way in. Download the map and reference it when you feel lost, the waterfall is worth it.

Load More

Featured Trails