HARD 459 reviews
#2 of 10 trails in

Ka'au Crater [PRIVATE PROPERTY] is a 5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Honolulu, Hawaii that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November.

5.0 miles
2020 feet



nature trips

rock climbing

trail running






wild flowers




old growth

over grown



private property

no dogs

This hike is challenging and can be slippery and dangerous. If you don't know how to navigate in the outdoors you should consider another trail that is well-marked OR hike the trail in a counter-clockwise route as far as the waterfall and return the way you came. This is an amazing hike with three waterfalls and gorgeous views of Honolulu, Kaneohe, Kailua, Diamond Head, and Ka'au Crater. This hike is not too challenging until the 3rd waterfall which you climb up to get to the ridge portion of the hike. This is where it got extremely muddy and a bit dangerous. The view from the top of the ridge is incredible! Pack more food and water than you think you'd need, it's very steep and tiring. The trailhead is cleverly hidden behind the mailboxes on left of the road at the end of Waiomao Road which is a right turn off of 10th Street. Get out of your little car and you will see the hand lettered sign on the tree behind the mailboxes. The trail starts DOWN into the streambed / rain forest.

Loved the hike !! Did all falls ...took a few spills due to the wetness on the narrow trail .....

Beautiful hike, super wet today. Waterfalls were amazing! Hike safe!

6 days ago

If it's raining or wet, think twice about going around the crater ridge unless you have cleats and rope. Mildly treacherous mud climbing and sliding will ensue. A light amount of rain had all of the falls raging, making the third one impossible to cross the standard way, instead requiring dangerous and fun mountain goat gymnastics up both sides to make it to the top. At that point you can go left to find the exit route, or go right and try to hurt yourself. Results after 6 hours: bruised, cut, sore, mud covered, smiling.

As always, please continue leaving as much of your trash on the trail as possible, it gives me great satisfaction to collect it.

11 days ago

Holy cow this thing is hard, first and second waterfalls are what one normally expects, but third is almost rock climbing followed by a climb along a ridge with winds threatening to blow you off, do not attempt of its raining! All that said, beautiful trail, amazing sights, and the view from the peak! Definitely do this hike if you can handle it!

12 days ago

Best hike on the island - tons of mud and tons of fun - if you are old and slow and take lots of videos and it is rainy - plan on a 10 hour hike

18 days ago

To start off, believe the reviews. We thought reviews were exaggerating that a 5 mile hike would take such a long time. THEY WERE RIGHT. After about 6 hours, covered head to toe in mud, this hike was definitely one to remember.

The start of the hike is right behind a set of mailboxes on the street Google Maps leads you to, easy to spot. You descend deep into the jungle-like forest and begin walking along a stream bed. Markers lead in both directions and I have yet to discover if they brought you along slightly different paths or if all ways led to Rome, but I'm going with the latter. We stuck to the right side since we read that that one contained the waterfalls. TIP: Remember this part of the trail. On the way back, we ran into a couple who had been lost for an hour trying to get out. Luckily my boyfriend has a great memory and led us all out, but it can get awful confusing since the markers are scattered.

After about an hour of going up/down, the gradient pretty flar, following a thick water pipe and its rusty, corroded predecessor (#tetanus), we reached the first waterfall. Climbing up it was fairly easy. I tend to avoid ropes as much as possible since you can't tell how long they've been up there, but the majority looked secure (safe for one highly sketchy orange one). The second waterfall came shortly after and it was even more beautiful. The third waterfall was a series of smaller falls that lead you up the mountain until you reach the crater opening. You use a series of ropes for 0.25 miles to walk up them.

Once you get to the crater, it resembles a typical ridgeline trail. Pine trees at the beginning, then quickly shifting to open area and lots of mud. LOTS. You'll continue to head upwards to the highest peak, and then loop back along the ridge. Beautiful view. Unfortunately for us, as soon as we reached the ridge, it began to rain, hard. We pushed on to get to the peak, but once at the peak, quickly turned back. The mud was extremely slippery and we did the majority of the open ridgeline sliding down on our butts / as low to the ground as possible. I wouldn't recommend doing this part of the hike in the rain to any unexperienced or nervous hikers. It was very nerve-wracking. We went slow and steady, sneakers slipping every few feet. There wasn't much to hold on to except the mud below us, hence the butt sliding. Once we reached the forest covering, we got to the waterfalls, and it took us just as long, if not longer, to get down, since the rocks were all super slippery from the rain. I read that the way down on the other side of the loop is easier.

Once done with the falls, we were ready to exit the hike, but still had another hour of mud to trek through. At this point, we walked straight through every stream and mud puddle, no longer slightly concerned by the mud on our faces and fact that it had soaked into our underwear. We brought enough water but definitely not enough food (only 2 Clif bars for 6 hours of strenuous hiking, silly mistake) so we were getting a little tired. By the time we finished, we were incredibly satisfied, but vowed not to look at mud for another 24 hours.

Then came figuring out how to get into the rental car with as little damage as possible.

All in all, great hike, pretty easy to follow, not overly strenuous on a sunny day but twice as hard (and dangerous) on a rainy one. Bring extra food and water, I promise you won't regret it,

26 days ago

Beautiful, yet difficult hike. Not recommended for children or the faint of heart. Doable for athletic teenagers and adults. Beautiful views and waterfalls, but steep ridges and lots of scrambling required. Bring bug spray and lots of water. Totally worth it!

29 days ago

I am in decent shape and this trail kicked my butt. Definitely not for the out of shape or faint of heart - although I personally do have a fear of heights but was still able to finish. Climbing up the third waterfall was great fun, not technically challenging but long and got strenuous by the end. The crater rim is steep and muddy and by far the most difficult and dangerous part of this hike. There are helpful ropes in many spots - but there are also several spots that could have used a rope but didn’t have one. Took about 6 hours round trip, including a couple short breaks.

1 month ago

Amazing hike, but must be physically fit to take on. 3rd waterfall is a series of rope climbs and so by the time you make it to the crater your body is getting fatigued. Absolutely stunning stunning hike, really beautiful.

1 month ago

not easy. once you get up the 3rd waterfall its dry crumbly rock or mud to the top of the crater. not in bad shape physically but i was not ready for the 5+ hours of complete physical activity this required. rock climbing was cool and the ropes helped but it you have to have faith in the rope.
bring snacks and no joke about the water friend had 2 lt. and she was out before we truly left the ridge. also bring bug spray, and sunblock. i got roasted on the ridge and that didnt help the water issue. if you have removable pant to shorts i recomend those as the ridge has lots of prickly and slicing plants. i got a few scrapes from the plant life not rocks. the veiw was amazing and while i question my sanity this was deffently an amazing hike. just not for the faint of heart.

1 month ago

Amazing hike! Definitely don’t do this on a rainy day. It was sunny and beautiful blue skies. The rim I believe is harder to hike than the actual trail going to the crater. Mainly because of all the rope and climbing over rocks. And then sliding down the ridges. My one and done. Good luck to any hikers.

Bring lots of water and food! I had 2 liters of water and a water bottle and ran out before the end of the hike.

1 month ago

TO ANYONE PLANNING ON DOING THIS HIKE: Can someone please bring up a rope to replace the (almost broken) rope directly after the first waterfall? The rope was badly worn and needed replacing ages ago. I would do it myself but I am leaving Honolulu. That aside, I did this hike yesterday and was absolutely blown away. I highly recommend for anyone wanting an amazing hike that keeps delivering. However I wouldn't recommend this for a beginner. The crater rim is very narrow at places with high drops on either side, and it can also be quite slippery at many places. The climb up the third waterfall is not for those with a fear of heights either. The whole hike took four of us a little over seven hours. We stopped ages for lunch and screwed around quite a bit on the rim. If you were keen the hike could be completed much quicker.

1 month ago

Kaau Crater was amazing !!! 3 dope waterfalls and the view hiking the rim is insane. This hike kicked my ass but was well worth it ! Bring lots of water, food, and expect some rope climbs, and plan for around 6 hours of hiking !

1 month ago

Never did the Crater rim yet, but finished the Waterfall loop and it was shorter but just as rewarding! Loved it and can’t wait to go back to the rim!

1 month ago

DISCLAIMER: this trailhead has been riddled with car breaking. Yes, many windows broken and property stolen of them. You can see the evidence in the “parking lot” as it is filled with glass shards. My recommendation is to not even leave valuables in the vehicle and especially do not leave any valuables visible.

Aside from that, it was a nice hike with beautiful waterfalls. Slow going at some parts, would say to research this trail a little before starting as it took longer than you’d expect. There are many waterfalls included in this trail, just keep on exploring and you’ll get to see them all! Would recommend this hike just be vigilant of the vehicle break in crime.

1 month ago

Favorite!! I prefer hiking up the 7 waterfalls to the crater rim and returning counter clockwise on the northern ridge. Hiking the perimeter of the crater is advanced and should not be done when saturated/muddy!! Even micro spikes didn’t assist with slippery conditions.

1 month ago

Favorite hike I've done so far on the island. Complete with waterfalls and amazing views from the top of the crater ridge.

1 month ago

we went with locals and they said this was the most beautiful hike they've been on. With that said it was also one of the hardest. There were a lot of swearing, blood, sweat, mode and rain. If you are affraid of heights, scaling waterfalls or getting wet go somewhere else pretty tough but easily most beautiful.

2 months ago

Ka’au did not disappoint. We went on a high wind advisory day which I do not recommend as it was pretty sketchy along the ridge with 30 knots of wind. Bring good grippy shoes and plenty of water. Longer pants would also be helpful as it is unmaintained and some of the fauna is prickly. We found going counterclockwise was the better way to go because overall hiking the waterfalls wasn’t as difficult as it looked but going backwards down may have been hairy.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and I would suggest it to anyone who is adventurous and athletic.

2 months ago

This hike definitely had accurate reviews.. definitely challenging. I went on a day when it had not rained and it is extremely muddy at the beginning, then goes to dry and crumbly up on the ridge, so the hike is slippery pretty much the entire time. Be sure to wear shoes with some good grip. The views were absolutely amazing and time to hike was about 5-6 hours. Helpful to use this map as there are a couple trails that could lead you in the wrong direction. Overall, definitely unforgettable!

2 months ago

This is a very difficult hike. Not for the faint of heart or inexperienced.
I am in decent shape, not a navy seal by any means but have strong legs.
You will need to pull yourself up some rope climbs and lower yourself down on ropes as well.
After the third waterfall is where it gets a little crazy but also impressive!
Beware the wind on the top of the crater, there is not a lot of room and the wind can certainly push you around a bit.
It’s slippery!! Very slippery!!
A lot of roots, mud, and slippery rocks.
Pack a couple litres of water and some power snacks!
It’s a very challenging but also beautiful hike if the clouds are gone!
Took us about 5hrs30min

2 months ago

This hike has everything you need. waterfalls, ridge walking, scrambling, and amazing views. it's a tough hike, but well worth it.

2 months ago

Awesome hike, just a few slippery areas getting to third falls. From there was nice and dry this past Saturday. Take 2-3 liters water and some snacks. Took us about 7 hours for the loop. Lots of people out on the weekends.

2 months ago

LOVED the added versatility of the pipe crossings and climbings. Didn’t particularly care for the lack of hiking etiquette of others on the trail. Most of the trail only has enough space for one person at a time. And other hikers wouldn’t always yield or give the right of way, which makes things a little dangerous. We only went to the first waterfall and it was definitely an adventure. I wouldn’t call this hike hard or technical at all. To the first waterfall there aren’t any big inclines. Only thing I’d consider intermediate level are the narrow ledges. We went on a Saturday and it was VERY crowded.

2 months ago

Amazing hike with incredible views but very tough. I missed the left hand turn back too and ended up hiking along a precarious ridge before looping back to the wa’ahlia ridge parking lot.

2 months ago

Challenging but so very worth it. Perfectly navigable and even though “unmaintained,” still easily done. The rope climbs require a bit or upper body, and I would recommend only to those who are in moderately good or better shape. Don’t underestimate the need for bringing water: a couple of guys I met at the top had just a large water bottle between the two of them. And they were _hurting_.

2 months ago

Pretty adventurous hike, though I only got to do half of it! My hiking buddy and I didn't think to look at the All Trails app for the path down while on the ridge and instead traversed the entire ridge, then went down a different ridge, and ended up in the Waʻahila Ridge State Recreation Area parking lot. No idea how much longer that ended up being mileage wise (if anyone has done this before I would love to hear about your experience!), but would definitely recommend keep an eye out on the left for the trail downward if intending to do the full loop counterclockwise.

2 months ago

This was the jungle adventure hike I’ve been wanting to have since I was 10.

I continued along the ridge to the next northern peak, which I recommend, although this is dangerous.

Best done counterclockwise. All you need is a bottle of water and acceptance of the fact that you’re going to get muddy.

2 months ago

I wouldn't take pets or children on this hike. Lots of sketch ropes you have to use.

2 months ago

Pretty amazing treck. If this is intermediate, I would like to see difficult.

Being a life time out doors man and graduated multiple survival schools...Id say don’t take this on unless you are in extreme physical shape or doing just a part or a hike in camp.

To do in one day muddy with some stops took about 5 hours and we were moving when we moved.

No trail and only say a few folks on the hike and no one on the crater. You can cut the crater out if you want.

The hike up the 3rd waterfall is epic and is about a few hundred feet. A rolled ankle would be tough and shoe choice is key.

Recommend a wet dry shoe. I wore keens and was fine. Waterproof hiking shoe is prob best.

The counter clockwise path was the best choice as we saw all waterfalls first, climbed up vs down. The split is in the creek bed as you follow the pipe when you first start.

One of the best hikes I have been on. Good for kids that are 12-13, but there is some bouldering and significant upper body strength required if you do it all counter clockwise.

Drank 2 liters of water and light snacks.

Do it!

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