Route: Kalalau Trail (HI)

Hawaii, US
20.9 mi

The Kalalau Trail is a 10 mile trail that leads from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach along the Na Pali Coast on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. This website has information and media that will help you plan your outing to the secluded Kalalau Beach and/or Kalalau Valley. The Kalalau Trail is part of the Hawaii State Parks system.

The Kalalau Trail provides the only land access to this part of the rugged coast. The trail traverses 5 valleys before ending at Kalalau Beach where it is blocked by sheer, fluted pali. The 10-mile trail is graded but almost never level as it crosses above towering sea cliffs and through lush valleys. The trail drops to sea level at the beaches of Hanakapi’ai and Kalalau.

The out & back has a Strava segment.


Gregory Wagner added:

I'd just like to make a few comments about this trail, having run it myself at a fairly relaxed pace this past weekend in about 5:50 (including 50 minutes at the beach at the end).  There was a fair bit of mud on the trail for me.  Water can easily be obtained from any of the streams passed on the way provided you bring purification tablets.  The beautiful waterfall at the end of the trail is a particularly logical place to refill.

I had GPS watch / barometer with me, which recorded the total length of the trail at 10.1 miles.  It's possible that the trail is a bit longer, but I doubt it's fully 11 miles as is usually published.  Also, its barometer estimated the one-way elevation gain at around 3,100 feet, which I trust more than estimates based on GPS or elevation data sets (since the whole route is traversing steep terrain, these estimates are probably not very accurate).  So the total trail out and back is perhaps roughly 21 miles and 6,200 feet of gain.

The condition of the trail is determined by how much rain there has been and how much mud is on the trail.  The trail is well built and not too technical except in the two miles from the trailhead.  The trail is well graded and there are few steep sections.  There is one section of trail which descends eroding slopes and traverses above cliffs at mile 7 which frightens those unused to heights (but is safe if one is careful).  The greatest danger is posed by storms and heavy rain, since the trail crosses countless small streams and a few large ones, which can swell into impassible raging torrents.  However, this requires a particularly strong storm I think.

This trail is unbelievably beautiful, and the Kalalau Valley at the end of the trail -- hemmed in by sheer cliffs rising 4,000 feet above the ocean, guarded on east and west by wild complexes of pinnacles and fluted ridges, and teeming with life and blessed with a beautiful pocket beach, accessible on land only by the Kalalau Trail -- is perhaps one of the most beautiful places in the world.  I think a strong runner could manage a pretty fast pace and under 4 hours would not be too difficult.  It could be fun to run this trail fast if one has the chance to do it multiple times - which would be pretty fantastic - but for a first time trip it might be difficult to move fast even if you try because you will find yourself rooted to the earth, gaping at the panorama of endless ocean, waterfalls streaming from cliffs thousands of feet above you, and rock formations too wild to believe they are real.


Super excited to be going for the female unsupported FKT on the Kalalau Trail. This place holds a special place in my heart. I journeyed out on the Kalalau for the first time after my mom passed away in 2016. It was a special experience that I'll always cherish. The route is tough, but I'm ready to give it a whirl. Although many women have run the Kalalau, none have ever submitted the route for FKT consideration. I'm looking to beat the fastest female times listed on Strava for my own legitimacy and then submit my results. Mahalo.

I'll be attempting the female (unsupported) FKT on the Kalalau Trail this Monday - November 25nd. Although I've run this route before, I've never completed this with the intent to run it fast. Super excited to give it a go and cap off a wonderful year of training and racing. 

I ran from Ke'e to Hanakoa Falls on Saturday to get a taste of the trail since it's "reopening". Although I ran in pouring rain, the trail was just as wonderful as I remembered with the sweet smells of guava, rotting leaves and that indescribable smell of windex. That was a strong run and hoping this Monday will be even stronger. Thanks!

I’m going for the FKT on the Kalalau Trail (supported) on Wednesday, January 29. 

Going for unsupported male FKT tomorrow morning 2/3/20. Starting around 0800 local time.

4 hours RT on Kalalau? Amazing. That’s fast for one way.

I’m going for it. 2020 Kalalau unsupported on Wednesday, November 18th.