Makaleha Hike

HARD 53 reviews

Makaleha Hike is a 2.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Kapaa, Hawaii that features a waterfall. The trail is only recommended for very experienced adventurers and primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

2.6 miles
436 feet
Out & Back

dog friendly


nature trips





wild flowers




over grown



A must do trail for advanced hikers. This trail ends with 3 waterfalls and if you want to continue for another 1/2 mile, you will end at another waterfall. The trail begins at the end of Kahuna Road north of Kapaa. Lush green forest, cool stream and after 1 1/2 miles you will see the first 3 waterfalls. You will climb over boulders in the stream, on top of branches of fallen trees. The hike will be slow, but with patience, you will get there. Optionally, you can continue on another 1/2 mile to the waterfall on the right. Jump in the ice cold water for a nice swim.

9 hours ago

This is an advanced 'hike' for experienced adventurer's only. Do not attempt this hike solo unless practicing extreme caution (make sure to check in with a friend). I recommend you read the majority of reviews so you know what you're getting yourself into. This is one of the most difficult to navigate 'trails' I've done, probably ever. I was definitely off the trail for 15-20% of the hike, if not more. Hiking up the stream is a bit easier than through the woods, but be cautious. Ideally this hike should be done with someone that's done it at least once. Or not. I did it alone, plus four or five decently long 'side-hikes' that branch off from the main path. Incredible pictures. Incredibly sketchy (at times). This is the first time I've ever felt the need to blow my hiker's safety whistle (built into my backpack) on my way back down. The whistle was only ever answered by the native birds but, I felt I had a tool if needed. From my POV, as long as I hiked downwards and not far from the stream I'd be close by. This turned out to be mostly correct. Thankfully I had trekking poles. Pants recommend. Full charge battery recommended. I left covered head to toe in mud and water. One of the most difficult sets of hikes I've done. Didn't see a single trail marker. I mostly followed muddy boot prints and broken vegetation. The views were beautiful but you should really only attempt this if you're feeling masochistic (or have some hiking friends on the island) :) Happy 420!

I generally never believe that a trail will actually be “hard” but this one definitely is though thoroughly enjoyable. Plan to get very dirty and be very sore the next day. We found ourselves climbing up the stream boulders for a good portion because we lost the trail and eventually made it to the waterfall. Not for beginners, bumped my head, scraped everywhere and broke a knuckle slipping off a rock. It was all worth it for the story and reaching the waterfall at the end.

20 days ago

Parts of it are a jungle gym/puzzle that you have to beat to continue (ie contorting your body around fallen trees, placing feet carefully on mud covered everything). Even finding the trail is a puzzle, quite frequently. But if you're looking for a challenging beautiful trail, (w/waterfalls), this checks all the boxes!

1 month ago

It was beautiful but we got lost and things got a little sketchy for us.

1 month ago

Very challenging, but well worth the hike!!!
Continue past Makaleha Falls (extra 1/2 mile) to the right until you come to Hidden’ll be glad you did...spectacular water fall! It’s been raining a lot lately so Hidden Falls was impressive! This one will go down as one of my “All-time Favorites!”

1 month ago

Having read previous reviews, my husband and I knew what we were getting into. We had a blast! Definitely not your average trail-not the easiest to follow at times and you are spending alot of time scrambling over and under trees and rocks. Go in to it with a sense of adventure and know that you are going to get wet, and you will have fun. More advanced hike.

1 month ago

gorgeous after a rain storm, but very slippery

1 month ago

gorgeous after a rainstorm, but very slippery

2 months ago

Right when I was wondering if it was even worth the effort, I came out of the canopy and decided it was! It was definitely taxing. The hardest part about this hike is the route finding, and that’s coming from someone who has lots of experience hiking off trail. I’d say it’s more because of all the false trails. I guarantee you’ll end up backtracking. Don’t take trails that stray too far up hill from the stream. Seems like most the trail was on the right hand side of the stream (while looking up valley) but you cross left a few times, one of them very early into the hike. That’ll take you through the bamboo and you’ll need to cross again shortly thereafter. At one point you reach an island in the stream, follow it to the top and and go left toward the huge boulder with hau all over the place. Shortly after, you’ll end up on the right hand side again going through tons of hau (this must be what a jungle gym is made after). The going is slow, it’s definitely wet and slippery. I did it in hiking sandals but I’d just as soon go barefoot because traditional rubber soles just don’t grip these rocks, even with good tread, through realistically you should probably just wear tabis or micro spikes. Helpful hint, look for fresh tracks in the mud, bark rubbed off the hau, and boulders that look like they’ve been stepped on many times. I only saw a couple cairns and a few tags, and not even in really helpful spots.

3 months ago

Amazing ending to this climactic adventure that has a surprise around every twist and turn, duck and weave, and trust me there are a lot of them. It is definitely not for the faint of heart but the whole way is beautiful lush and green. This is for those that want an adventure but know your body and know your limits and when to turn around because you may not be able to follow this trail. Coming from someone who has experienced it, my group got lost for about thirty minutes until we found two other hikers that had already found their way and they put us on the right track. In all though I would say the journey and destination are worth all the mud, rock climbing, river crossings, and getting lost. Love, love, loved this hike it checked all my boxes for a great hike.

rock climbing
3 months ago

So we went on the trail and let me tell you the advice of the others about is not for the faint of heart. You really need good water shoes and good navigation skills because the trail markings are actual pieces of clothes like a hat and tee shirts but you also have to have enough sense to know when to say wth let’s just get in the river for crossing it. That is another point, just stay near the river. You will thank me later. Be ready to climb slide and get so dirty you want to jump in the water at the end. But this hike is so worth it at the end. It is a beautiful sight and very secluded. One of the best things to do on the island. Just be ready and be aware of your body! Good luck and happy trails.

5 months ago

Very hard. I lost the trail several times and never got to the waterfall. Trail is not marked. Very difficult to see where to cross stream. And very difficult to pick it back up once you cross. It is VERY HARD. Prepare to fall on your butt at least once. Rocks are very slippery, trail is very overgrown. BRING WATER!!!

5 months ago

It’s dangerous. Lots of climbing over and under things. Crossing the river several times...yer going to get wet. Totally worth it.

5 months ago

This trail is full of surprises and is not for your typical hikers. We started our hike on a cloudy day where it had rained the night before. The trail was muddy, wet and slippery. The maps on all trails show loops where those who plotted the trial circled to find the route.

I would not attempt this trail with flip flops or any type of sandals. If you have sturdy water shoes (think of fly fishing boots) they would be best. If not just plan on walking in the water several times with your shoes on.

Anyone hiking this trail should be nimble and agile on their feet. You will sometimes be climbing over trees, and sometimes choosing to climb from tree to tree instead of trying to scurry under them. On our return it started to downpour rain. The water in the stream definitely rose quickly... not flash flood like but definitely noticeable in making our final crossing sketchy. Be aware of the water levels if it is raining or cloudy above.

This definitely is as marked: for advanced and experienced hikers.

Once you reach the point where you can see the water falls you will appreciate the hike.

8 months ago

This trail is breath taking! Wear long pants & long shirt. Lots of bugs and bush. Follow trail even into the stream. Sadly I was not experienced enough to finish, since it it pretty extreme, I did get to see one waterfall & it was amazing. Be safe!!

8 months ago

No signage or trail markings whatsoever. Trail is a single track meandering up a river valley, crossing the river a number of times. rocks very slippery and hard to navigate. Trail probably too dangerous if the river is higher. Pretty sights near the end, but not worth the effort compared to others on the island. GPS track very helpful to find trail on the way back. Wear water shoes, you will get wet.

8 months ago

Absolutely beautiful and I will remember this hike as one of my lifetime favorites. The trail was difficult to navigate and there were quite a few forks in the road, but it was doable. It wasn't necessarily tiring, but an athletic body is helpful in order to squeeze under and over tree branches. The hike is definitely muddy. I were regular running shoes, though hiking shoes with good grip would have been welcome! I had the falls all to myself and it was well worth the trek!

10 months ago

Nice little jungle adventure

11 months ago

pretty awesome hike but hard. hard to keep a track of where the trail is the first river split Y, keep to the right side river path but the path is located in the land between the two rivers.
take right side at the 2nd Y.
recommend: good shoes, long pants + mosquito repellent+ download a trail.

11 months ago

Other comments describe the walk accurately - definitely a scramble and need to have you wits with path finding and boulder hopping footwear. Well worth it for the falls and the rewarding swim in the pool.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

This trail has many challenges. The hard rating is not for the length now the elevation but for the obstacles. Ensure you are in decent health. This trail is not only physically challenging but mentally as well. The hidden falls are about another 700ft past the end of the trail. Take a right where the river splits into a Y and you will eventually be rewarded with an amazing view and great swimming hole.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

This is one of the coolest hikes I've ever done. Hands down. Utterly awesome.

That said, it's a mission. Tough scramble that you need to be highly mobile to handle. It's hard, but not impossible and, as long as it's not raining, not dangerous (aside from maybe twisting an ankle). If it's raining, stay clear as flash floods can happen.

The trail is not well marked, but, as long as you follow the stream - on either side, or just rock hop through the middle - you'll get there. Hang right as you come to the two valleys (maybe 1/2 mile from the end) and get ready for this unreal pool fed by a gorgeous waterfall.

If you're brave, scale the waterfall 20' up to enjoy the second level pool. This place is so rad. Honestly.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

This was more of a trek through the jungle than a trail. You will climb over trees, roots, rocks, and will cross the creek several times. The "trail" disappears frequently and is difficult to find so it is very easy to get lost! That being said, once you get to the falls you will be rewarded with a gorgeous double falls and a nice cold pool to take a dip in. There was not a soul in sight when we were there. When in doubt about where trail goes, cross the creek and you are likely to find it on the other side. Definitely watch every step you take - its sketchy. The way back is much easier to navigate. Good luck!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Difficult. A natural jungle gym. Must have good sense of direction and a willingness to adopt the spirit of your ancestors (apes). An amazing challenge in wayfinding, but not unachievable. Tara an would be proud. Where grippy shoes.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Awesome trail! It's not an easy hike, so prepare yourself for climbing over trees, walking through mud and streams and climbing up and over rocks. There's a fork in the stream about 1.5 miles in, take the right stream, it'll bring you to the big waterfall. The waterfall is absolutely breathtaking and worth the crazy hike. Water shoes will definitely help. Preferably ones with good grip for the slippery mud.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Rough going but worth the trouble!

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

This is an awesome hike, due both to the absolute beauty of the surroundings and the fact that so few people attempt it. I'll let others describe the hike, but one important thing to note is that the unmarked trail head is straight ahead at the end on Kahuna Road. After parking, proceed up the unpaved road keeping the large water tank on your left. Any other route will put you into the middle of nowhere. Many thanks to my Barefoot Kauai guides, Trev and Cody for a great day.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

this is a fantastic, but very challenging hike. very muddy, and wet, as you constantly cross over the stream. the waterfalls aren't large, however, they are nice. there is also an incredible bamboo forest along the trail.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This hike is tough. Be sure to wear Tabis (can buy at Walmart in Lihue), as you will be crossing the creek repeatedly and it is very slippery. Hiking poles are also useful. You will get quite a workout climbing over the horizontal trees, it is like a jungle gym, especially at the end. Take this trail to experience what Kauai is really like.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This is the first 5 star rating I've given on any hike. I've hiked many trails on Kauai and I will put this one at the top. I've read that this hike is only for advanced hikers and I am not advanced. After doing this one, I can see why. It's only 2 miles if you go to the very end. The hike took us 5 hours and 40 minutes round trip. It's challenging from the start to the end. You will climb boulders, walk on top of trees, wander off course because the trail is not maintained. At the end of the 1 1/2, before your very eyes will be 3 waterfalls. Do not turn around, continue for another 1/2 mile to your right and you will come to another waterfall. Stunning! After 2 miles of hiking, it's very rewarding. Use your judgement on whether you should go or not. It's dangerous because of the large boulders and you will need to cross the stream several times. If you fall and break something, you're in trouble. There are no medical facilities, population, nothing! You will not get help immediately. We did not see anyone on this trail and it was a sunny day with no rain. Keep in mind that this part of country gets a lot of rain. The county has closed trails because folks have been injured on the trails, file lawsuits and I would hate to see it happen to this trail.

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