Ka'au Crater [PRIVATE PROPERTY]

HARD 511 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.

DISTANCE
5.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2020 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

birding

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

old growth

over grown

rocky

scramble

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.

hiking
1 day ago

A few of the ropes were questionable and climbing around the boulder on fall 2 was a touch nerve wracking, but amazing hike!

2 days ago

Super fun :)

3 days ago

I did not do the crater rim loop and my RT was about 5.5 miles. My portion I’d rate as moderate. In mid July after a week of no rain (on Oahu) it was still muddy but minimal on the rim portion I did. I took the left trail fork at the top of the third waterfall and met the return loop after about .3 miles. The ascent up the third waterfall is long but not slippery with slow cautious steps. The rim trail looks difficult and I would guess is about 1 mile.

6 days ago

Muddy and awesome with some of the best views ever. Some of the lines are getting worn.

14 days ago

I’ve read a lot people complaining about the mud, but deal with it, it’s an unreal hike that takes some time. If you want to cut it short pack a lunch and eat at the first waterfall, but if you’re trying to push it to the limit go all the way. Love seeing people on this trail and consider it the best kept secret of Honolulu.

hiking
15 days ago

My husband and I did this trail as first time hikers. It was deffinetly hard and dangerous but we ended up fine. We made it to the top of the crater; however, it started to downpour so we turned back around to climb down the waterfalls. I would not wear tennis shoes if I were you. The rain and mud completely ruined our running shoes. However, we had so much fun climbing up and down the trails. Bring water, snacks and take pictures. :)

23 days ago

The crater itself is quite beautiful but this trail is just ridiculously muddy. I made it halfway to the point where you start to climb up high around the crater.

At a certain point I found the trail to be impassable. It became a slide of mud and I could not get traction with my shoes. There was no rope or anything to hold onto. I’m not sure how prior reviews mention doing the trail in tennis shoes. I was going clockwise around crater and found that the mud slides made it impossible without some decent hiking/climbing gear.

Also I ended up going backwards on the loop as the trail up the mountain was more obvious than one continuing down river to waterfalls.

rock climbing
24 days ago

Previous reviewers really under exaggerate the sheer amount of mud that is on this trail. The ENTIRE trail, from start to finish, is covered thick in mud and mud covered rock. Mud will get everywhere on you, and will lead to you slipping often and slipping hard, guaranteed. My partner and I both came out with a ton of cuts and bruises, and see high potential in someone getting seriously hurt. There's more slipping/twisting/sliding than actual walking.

They also fail to portray the number of rope-climbs that this trail requires. There are at least 30 if not 40 ropes scattered throughout the trail ranging from anywhere between 4 and 40 foot vertical elevation gains up a sheer mud/rock cliff or waterfall.

At this point I feel it necessary to point out I'm 23 years old, have gone to the gym almost everyday for the last 7 years, and came prepared with energy/food/water.

There are ribbons which are somewhat helpful, but they aren't very reliable, which especially holds true since the actual trail doesn't entirely match up with what AllTrails has (there are parts where the trail splits then reconnects [so there are two options to advance basically] but the app shows the trail as never splitting at that specific location, so it's easy to take one route, not realize the second route is there, then continue onto the end of the second route and head backwards in a big circle, thinking you're advancing when you aren't. No, I'm not talking about the crater portion either.).

The end along the ridge line has drop offs which are too intense for me (and other groups I found), especially with the severe winds at the top. The trail narrows to ~2ft with sheer drops to either side to guaranteed death. Falling to a broken ankle I can handle, but falling so easily to death just makes me lose interest real quick. Too sketchy up there.

Overall, the risks really outweigh the rewards for this trail, and I would recommend people find other trails where the rewards are better while requiring less risk in the process.

hiking
25 days ago

Amazing hike! This was 6.5 miles start to finish. Not sure what route is only 5. There are a few very steep scary spots for anyone terrified of heights. Amazing views and not many hikes you can climb up a waterfall!

hiking
25 days ago

Take the trail on the East end up and back unless you are confident in your climbing ability. The waterfall climbing section was not steep and had plenty of rope, but it is very muddy on the way there so bring a change of clothes for when you leave.

Amazing views from any of the ridges. Completely out of this world.

26 days ago

Sketchy hike but fun. It ended up being 11 miles round trip!

28 days ago

Cheap thrills if you’ve got the skills!

hiking
1 month ago

The hike and the waterfalls are beautiful. It was muddy and slippery but I hiked it in tennis shoes due to lack of planning and made it out perfectly fine! Got to swim in the waterfall! Would definitely recommend it.

1 month ago

This is a great Hawaiian hike with lush tropical forest, epic waterfalls, and ridge with incredible views. For much of the first section, you slog through mud following a pipe that crosses the stream a few times. Markers are actually fairly consistent. The third waterfall is a bit tricky at times, but has an incline which makes it definitely doable. If the water were flowing more heavily if would be quite treacherous. Ropes are well done and sturdy. I am moderately afraid of heights and found the ridge challenging for that reason, but there is brush on both sides and often a crevasse with edges that made me feel fairly safe. We did not go all the way around the ridge due to time. We hiked up the waterfalls and up to the top of the ridge where you can look out over the windward side from a grassy spot. There is a trail that allows you to connect with the other leg of the loop without going all the way around the crater. You do not have to go back down the waterfalls. Does seem like it would be more than 5 miles if you went all the way around. It took us 9 hours but we stopped and swam in the waterfall, etc.

1 month ago

Went on this trail later in the afternoon and it also had stated raining. Trail was extremely muddy and slippery. We got about halfway through and had to turn around because of the rain. Probably was out there for about 4.5 hours because of the conditions. On the way back we had a difficult time finding the trail from the creek leading out and to the street since the heavy rains turned the exit into a small waterfall or stream of sorts. Luckily the maps portion of the app was able to redirect us out. I would like to go on this trail again when the weather is good and early in the morning. All in all,
great views of waterfall and some challenging climbs up the sides of several of the waterfalls. We had a blast despite the conditions. Be safe and cautious.

hiking
1 month ago

Incredible views of Waikiki and the windward said of Oahu. Definitely worth the effort to do the whole trail but for us the hardest part was the last 500 ft up to the ridge summit and the descent which has us slipping and sliding the whole way down, often on our butts. The waterfall portion was not as hard as we feared as there are plenty of ropes that provide a sturdy way up. Definitely a muddy hike making it difficult in terms of foot placement but overall not too physically strenuous.

1 month ago

Easy! However we didn't do the rim because of high winds. If you don't like high places pick another hike. My wife cried a little out of fear but I was able to talk her up the falls. Also get ice spikes so you dont fall off the rim.

hiking
1 month ago

Did this hike 21 April 2018 with some friends took us 7 hours it was rainy and muddy and being very careful along the crater ridgeline. A lot of people did not continue on to the crater they just did waterfalls and turned around. Which in my honest opinion is more sketchy to climb down those waterfalls than to continue around the crater. This hike is not a easy hike so I would not recommend small children or the elderly. They are some sketchy areas for sure. But we all had a big smile on our faces when we completed the hike and was grateful and humble to come out in one piece!!!

hiking
2 months ago

Quite muddy and a bit challenging up the third waterfall... but the best hike we’ve done in Oahu so far!

hiking
2 months ago

If you want to climb the sides of waterfalls and hike thru the jungle, look no further.

We cut out the crater by taking the shortcut, because the summit was socked in with clouds when we went. Just be ready for a long hike -- especially if you plan on doing the whole thing.

2 months ago

Awesome views. Quite tiring not so much the difference but from the scaling. One of the best trails in Ohau.

hiking
2 months ago

Very challenging. Between the thick mud, wading thru the water and climbing the slippery rocks, you'll definitely find the challenge you are looking for. We went the entire route, up through all 3 beautiful falls to the crater ridge and around. (Fortunately there are ropes on the more challenging areas.) Beautiful view of the island at the top. We then came down a different trail to avoid climbing back down thru the water falls. Again, extremely muddy but wow, what a hike! A big beer is a definite must at the end!!

2 months ago

It has it all.. mud is a slight issue so timing is a worthwhile consideration.

hiking
2 months ago

It is a wonderful hike with amazing views. We have gone there few weeks ago, was very muddy. But so much fun! Must worn, IT IS NOT A 5 MILES HIKE!!! IT IS 9 MILES. So be prepared for a long walk with multiply stream crossings, climbing up the waterfall and the summit, multiply thing ridges. Bring lots of water and snacks. Took us about 6 hours. Very fun hike. Highly recommend.

2 months ago

Can be very wet and muddy, and when it's been raining can be quite dangerous. The first part of the trail now has to skirt around a private property, but the trail is public. Be very careful about going to the edge of the first falls - the rocks are extremely slippery and several hikers have died here. The climb is moderately strenuous but the views from the south edge of the crater are great. Considered a "muddy hike."

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

3 months ago

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

3 months 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.

hiking
3 months 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!

3 months 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

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