Kalauao Falls Loop Trail is a 5.4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Honolulu, Hawaii that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.
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.
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.
Your going to get lost.
You get lost easily
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
DONT GO PAST THE WATERFALL.
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.
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.
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...
My husband and I hiked this today; we backpacked our two daughters (4 and 19 months). This trail is rated hard and I agree it is hard but not extreme. We are both in excellent shape (I am a fitness instructor/trainer and he is a triathlete). Today the trail was about as perfect as it was going to get. It was muddy, in spots, but that is par for the course with waterfall hikes. The descent down is steep but manageable and was the best part (in my opinion). The waterfall was flowing and the water was a clear blue and beyond amazing! Waterfall is absolutely worth it, we all went for a swim:).
My suggestion would be to google this trail and read blogs or watch a U-Tube videos so that you DO NOT MISS the 2 major junctions that lead to the falls. One is at the very beginning of the Aiea Loop and the second is about 20-30 min from that point. When we go back I plan to take my 12 year old daughter. This trail is NOT for young children and unless you are in excellent shape I would NOT backpack young kids. If you are, then GO FOR IT, just make sure you have a spotter to help guide you through the sticky areas on the way up and down. It took us 2 hours IN and 1.5 OUT. We LOVED this hike and it's my favorite waterfall to date on Oahu.