Kalauao Falls Loop Trail

MODERATE 86 reviews
#1 of 3 trails in

Kalauao Falls Loop Trail is a 4.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Honolulu, Hawaii that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
4.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1361 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

rocky

scramble

no dogs

Lessor known trail that starts from Keaiwa Heiau State Park off the more commonly known Aiea Loop Trail down into Kalauao Valley to visit Kalauao Falls and Pu'u Uau. This trail was originally created in 1930 and later modified in 1965 by HTMC. This trail is an intermediate level trail with some steep climbs and descents into the valley. It is best done after a good rain, though not immediately so as it will create some pretty high brown waters. Its best after a couple of days as the water settles into a clear blue hue. The trail is generally well marked with orange ribbons and a few pink bottle caps. There is one short section above the waterfalls (if doing this loop clockwise), where there are several parallel trails that makes it a little confusing. Lookout for the ridge trail after the 14th crossing. Once on the ridge, there are lots of really tall Ti plants. Its not much of a switchback - more like straight up. Watch out for muddy sections with loose footing. The ridge is a beautiful place that connects up to Pu'u Uau. This hill is where the junction from Aiea Ridge and Aiea Loop meets. Return back to the start along Aiea Loop Trail.

21 days ago

With all the amazing trails Hawaii has to offer, this is one to visit but not one to keep coming back to after the first time. Trail is well-marked but we turned around and returned the same way we came. The trail was trickier to follow on the return leg but the point where you start climbing is well marked. We did it with 3 kids, aged 7, 8, and 14. It was about the right length although the 7 yr old was challenged in several of the crossings.

hiking
25 days ago

Such an amazing waterfall! And we were the only ones there.... probably because we were the only ones crazy enough to hike this thing. The reviews and description say that after the falls it’s pretty straight up the mountain to get back to the ridge, with mud and very loose footing... well that was an understatement for sure. It was literally back up the side of the mountain after following the stream for a while. Thank goodness we are quite fit and hiking smart. Super glad we did the whole loop but if I do this one again it will be straight out to the falls and back up the same way we came..

Going clockwise to the falls is pretty easy and straightforward, it's been well marked. I loved the falls, it was flowing well even on a sunny day! but it's been raining a lot overall the past month which is probably why. If you just want to see the falls, best to just go back out the way you came in. I decided to try out the loop because I hate repetition and loved the idea of a challenge. I think people might hunt here and that's why there's kind of a bit of excessively random trail markers? Might be wrong, but it's really just a guessing game after the falls, eventually I just started hashing my way up the ridge no trail. Accidentally ended up finding the trail anyway(After an hour or so)! You have no idea how happy I was to see that yellow rope lol from there is was really easy again, just a simple ridgeline trail. it was definitely a bit overgrown at times but nothing unbearable. the trail past the falls just needs to be remarked! otherwise I really enjoyed this trail.

3 months ago

IF YOU DO THIS TRAIL MAKE SURE YOU HAVE SOME TYPE OF NAVIGATION SYSTEM. We did this trail counter clockwise like the other hiker suggested which was the only possible way to fully complete this hike. The trail is only marked from the clockwise entrance to the actual water fall. After that it is completely overgrown with brush waist high. It also doesn’t say that you have to walk the river bottom but you do. This hike took four and a half hours with two experienced hikers. Would not do again.

hiking
3 months ago

this was a beautiful hike, ended up going back the same way we came in. It was hard to make definition as to where the trail was heading. After we saw the magnificent waterfall. lots of boar tracks, and fruit trees... and beautiful land scape.⛰

3 months ago

We watched a you tube video on how to find the falls. It definitely helped. Did about 8-9 stream crossings and stream was flowing pretty hard . This did make for a nice flowing falls. Definitely go after a rainfall and you won’t be disappointed.

hiking
3 months ago

do it counterclockwise.... couldn't find a trail back up after the waterfall.... thought I did, up a steep hill only to find a dead end. hiked up til the trail was really overgrown...I ended up turning around and hiking out the way I came in. will for sure go ccw next time. beautiful hike in the valley and I didn't see one person... the rain may have been the reason for that tho.....

hiking
4 months ago

We managed to do the deserted loop today. Arriving at waterfall was okay but pretty steep down. Go up above the waterfall, then continue upstream until you see two orange ribbons on vertical branches by river, and go straight up the mountain until you find the next marker, crazy up on boars’ trail. We got lost because we found more markers going upstream after those two. Should have read review before. Be prepared and careful, very wild and essentially no trail up the ridge until you hit Aiea Loop again. Experience hikers only.

hiking
5 months ago

THIS TRAIL IS AWESOME! It has everything that you'd want for a "moderate" hike. There is fruit everywhere and the scenery is out of this world! Check out our video!

https://youtu.be/BubrdwWB_mo

hiking
7 months ago

If you are looking for adventure , this is a good trail! Quite easy until the waterfall, then get ready to look for only few signs on your way, pink signs can be anywhere, on trees, leaves, ground...half fun half annoying to find these signs! But after all , happy to have done it! Would not recommend with a child. My wife was inexperienced and did it bravely!!

hiking
8 months ago

Hike was pretty miserable overall. The decent down isn't bad but the "trail" too the waterfall is slippery and possible ankle tweakers. The falls were dry today so that was a bit anti climatic. The next half of the trail is rough, the accent is long and exhausting, great views but not well maintained. Very steep and could be a danger too younger or in experienced hikers.

Would not hike again.

hiking
8 months ago

This trail is very hard to follow. We turned left when the loop split. We missed the turn to continue and had to retrace our steps using the offline map I had already downloaded (luckily). Finding the waterfall was easy but after that the trail was not well marked and we got lost several times. Once we finally found the trail (using the map) it was very steep up the ridge and very overgrown. I would rate this hike as hard due to the un marked trail and steep climbs up the ridge. If you're looking for a view this is not the hike for you. The waterfall is just ok. This hike took us 4 hours to complete.

hiking
8 months ago

Went with my kids and baby. Had to backtrack because we passed the mango tree. Our short little legs had a hard time climbing down the rocky part of the trail. It rained a little so the trail was slippery. The waterfall is pretty small and not what we expected. We decided to come back the way we came because we didn't want to chance the other half of the trail with everyone's reviews saying that half isn't maintained.

9 months ago

fun loop.

10 months ago

Challenging but good fun. Be prepared for hike up.

hiking
10 months ago

got lost coming back up, we couldn't find the turn to go back uphill. It takes some strength and endurance to get back up once you do find your way back.

The waterfall was on the small side, but not a lot of people are there to crowd it.

11 months ago

I am not even sure why this is rated difficult. I was very disappointed.

walking
11 months ago

Mislabeled as HARD. Nothing hard about it.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I love this trail. People get lost because they don't know where to turn. About 20 min into Aiea Loop, there is a trail to the left. If you get to the big power lines you have gone too far. Follow the side trail down the ridge for about 30 min. Check this app periodically for the next turn - it's on the right by a big mango tree. Then you'll go straight down the cliff to the river. Once at the river turn right going upstream. It seems like a long way but is worth it. Go after a big rain. Lastly, leave the way you came. The rest of the loop is not maintained and is not pleasant at all.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Your going to get lost.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

You get lost easily

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Once we found the first junction it was a pretty easy trail to follow. Very hard to miss the second junction at the Mango Tree. Be prepared for a workout on the way back up.

hiking
Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Absolutely miserable hike. Would not recommend. The descent down was muddy and slippery. It was just plain dangerous. You have to cross the river 8+ times and each time you're risking falling in. The rocks are slippery and there is no safe way across. Don't bring any valuable electronics (such as non water proof cell phones or camera gear) with you! The waterfall is underwhelming at best. For anyone brave enough to go past the waterfall, you're in for a bad time. There's no clear path whatsoever and no cell service to help you find your way. You're going to get lost and wish you hadn't gone! So many bugs and my legs have so many scratches on them. Even heard some wild boars. Wear long pants if you must do this part of the hike and be prepared to be grabbing onto every available branch and tree to help you up the cliff. We got so lost that we just slid down the hill (after the ascent and after walking along the ridge) to meet up with the regular SAFE path.

Extreme hikers ONLY! Turn around at the waterfall if you value your life/sanity!!!!!!!! We did the full loop and it took almost 7 hours.

hiking
Sunday, February 05, 2017

Great hike! Missed the mango tree but back tracked and found it. Best to do after it rains the water fall was a small trickle but worth the hike to see in my opinion. Would not recommend for children under 5.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Not a loop. Didnt track distance but i wouldnt rate as hard but took a lil heart going back up the hill for my wife. I will do again my wife never will. It was her first hike in HI.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Yea it's not a loop hike it's best out and back to the waterfall but beautiful two pugs handled it like champions there not your average dogs though!

Monday, October 31, 2016

DONT GO PAST THE WATERFALL.

hiking
Monday, October 31, 2016

Started off awesome on the Aiea Trail Loop. Missed the ascent down to the falls, had to double back. A little mud on the way down to the falls, it had just rained the night before.

The falls were cool and peaceful. Tier 1 approx 8 feet high. Tier 2 / top of falls approx 22-25 feet high. We didnt jump in, but felt around the bottom with a big stick. Prob can jump, think it's 5-8 feet deep.

Should have turned around at the falls and headed out the same way we came in. Trail and ridge past the falls was VERY overgrown, VERY muddy, and we got lost several times costing us at least an hour. REC you DO NOT try to climb up the ridge past the falls. If you do, wear pants, long sleeves, and plan to grab everything and anything to get up the ridge. Plan enough time to get lost several times if you go past the falls.

Did 6M in 5.5hrs. Would hike to the falls again, will NOT do complete loop past the falls again.

Read 2 e review too. Spot on. Follow Amber Levi's recorded track. Mahalo.

Monday, October 10, 2016

I had to look up the hike on a blog to find the junctions, the first you can't miss, it's the first MARKED trail on your left about 15 minutes after starting on the aiea loop. The second is at a mango tree about 30 minutes down the ridge. The tree has purple paint on it. Stay to the right when you're walking through the roots, from there it's a well traveled path down to the creek. From there just go up stream, the path is poorly marked. Took us about 2 hours in all.

Overall this was a very fun hike. The whole trail is lined with edible, delicious fruit like lilikoi. The pool below the waterfall is so beautiful and deep enough to jump into. 5/7 would do again.

hiking
Sunday, October 09, 2016

The first junction is actually quite distinct and happens about 10 minutes into Aiea Loop Trail. If you follow the Aiea Loop Trail you will see the first junction on your LEFT as the Aiea trail looks like it forks. It's marked with two pink ribbons, one on either side of the entrance. It looks sketch because you feel like you're descending down a tunnel of overgrown trees and bushes. The trail here is narrow, muddy, with standing water in parts, and full of tiny flying bugs.

The second junction will be on your right about 25-30 minutes from the first junction. It is an unassuming entrance...I missed it my first time. Side note - if you miss it and you keep going straight, you hit a neighborhood (if anything happens, this is faster than back tracking through to Aiea Loop Trail). As you're walking, the trail widens and a patch of high grass in the middle of the trail marks the second junction (hikers have walked around this patch of grass going left and right) . There is a big mango tree on your RIGHT and it is marked with a pink bottle cap and an orange ribbon tied to the branch that slopes downwards. This is the path you take to descend down to the streambed. You can tell this is the path because of all the deep ruts from previous hikers. There are some markers along the way and they are surprisingly intact.

When you get to the bottom, follow the stream bed (go RIGHT). Here the markers are less distinct. You are basically taking a path along the stream and crossing over it to connect back on the trail as there are sections where you can't rightly continue on the trail. So you're left crisscrossing the stream. If you lose the path, just follow the stream. There were parts where it was just easier to walk on the rocks than to find the trail again (not sure how effective this is if it's been raining a lot).

After I reached the waterfall, the fun ended. There really is no clear path after the waterfall. You have to climb to the left of the falls (if you're facing it) to continue. At the top, the markers are even less distinct. I was able to follow the trail some but got completely turned around. The path was overgrown, muddy, took me up the mountain, and then down in a nonsensical manner. I tried to follow the trail via GPS and failed miserably. If you look at the side of any mountain and swept your hand in a broad motion, that is basically the trail. Most of the markers were trampled on, broken off, buried in mud, and definitely not where a trail may have been. I saw boar prints and turned up mud piles and some trash left by irresponsible humans. After an hour of this, I gave up, and went straight down the mountain until I hit the stream and followed it back to the falls. To the ones who actually made this loop, I'm really curious to know how you did it.

- Wear proper shoes. The descent and ascent is slick. Hold on to branches but make sure they aren't dry because they will crack and break off and you will have a one way butt ride down. I didn't go directly after a rainfall and although I'm sure the waterfall would've been more spectacular, the trail would've sucked more.
- Use a lot of bug spray or wear pants and long sleeves or do both. There are a ton of mosquitos on this trail.
- Remember your entrance to the stream. It's marked by two ribbons on either side. It's a matter of knowing when the ascent will start. When I came down, a couple was trying to find the entrance and I was able to show them. By the time I was ready to get out, I had lost my nerve and couldn't remember how far down the stream from the waterfall I had to go. Made it worst that I saw rock pilings that I didn't remember seeing on the way to the waterfall (thought maybe some good soul had marked the entrance back up the trail). Second guessed myself and turned around to meet up with the couple I had saw at the waterfall. To that couple and their adorable baby - THANK YOU SO SO MUCH.

Overall, I didn't enjoy this hike partly because of all the bugs and partly because my mind was set on a loop trail but I ended up wandering in the forest. I should've taken it as a sign that no one talked about hiking the entire loop, only about the path to the falls...

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