With sun rays struggling to push their way through the thick jungle canopy, mud splashing its way up your legs, and ropes to help lift your body over the nearly vertical terrain in some sections, the Ka’au Crater Hike is a full body workout not for the faint at heart. However, you will be rewarded with not one, not two, but three waterfalls.
The Ka’au Crater Hike is a five-mile unmaintained loop. The trail begins by meandering down to a stream, which you will follow until you see a large pipe. You’ll continue sloshing through thick mud with the Board of Water Supply pipe as your trail marker. The views will be limited, with nothing but thick jungle around and above.
After about an hour of hiking, you’ll be able to hear the waterfall. Once the waterfall is in sight, the trail will split. Follow the small trail leading to the base of the falls. From about 50 feet above, the waterfall will be cascading into the stream that you just spent the last hour following. Stop here to have a snack and enjoy the view.
Many people turn around and head back after enjoying the first waterfall. To continue on, head back to where the trail split and continue about ten more minutes into the valley until you reach the second falls. It’s about another 1.5 hours of hiking to reach the third waterfall. To continue past the third waterfall, you’ll need to ascend an almost vertical rope climb to the top of the falls, arriving at the ridge portion of the hike. From here, if it’s a clear day, you will have amazing views of the Ka’au Crater, Honolulu, Kaneohe, Kailua, and Diamond Head.
For those not comfortable navigating their own way (remember – this is an unmaintained trail), turning back and retracing your steps to the start after enjoying the third waterfall is recommended.
From Honolulu, head east on the H1 towards Hawai’i Kai and take the 6th Ave exit. Turn left onto 6th, right onto Waialae, and then left onto 10th. Follow signs for the Buddhist Temple, making a right turn onto Waiomao Rd. Continue to the end of Waiomao Road, and look for the trailhead behind the mailboxes on the left side of the road.
Ka au Crater Trail
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