Hike to the First Waterfall on the Ka'au Crater Trail

Ka'au Crater Trail

This hike takes you through the dense rainforest in Upper Palolo, across streams and over hills, and ends at a large waterfall. 

Directions: 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. You should see signs for the Buddhist temple; follow them onto Waiomao Rd. You will continue on this road until it ends at a private lane... there should be a little parking area on the right side of the road near here, just make sure you don't park in someones space or prevent people from passing on the road (there are likely to be others parked on the side of the road so use them as a gauge). 

The Trail: You will find the trailhead just a little further up the road, and into the jungle you go. The trail is single track and it begins by winding its way down to a stream. You will follow this stream for a short time, crossing it multiple times, and eventually you will find a large pipe running through the forest, this pipe will serve as your guide. You will follow the pipe up the valley for about a mile further, weaving back and forth along the hillside and gaining elevation. There are a couple clearings along the way where you will be able to see the surrounding scape but, besides that, the majority of the hike is spent under the cover of the canopy. After about an hour you will be able to hear the roar of the waterfall... when you can see the waterfall you will also see a little trail that drops down towards the creek, follow this trail to the bottom of the falls. The waterfall drops 50+ ft down into a decent size pool, and the pool drains into the stream which you are now quite familiar with. This is a great place to set up and have a sandwich or snack if you brought one... chances are you will want to stay here for a bit. 

  • You will notice that the trail splits just before the waterfall and continues up the valley... this waterfall is just one of 3 large waterfalls on the Ka'au Crater loop. The total hike is about 5 miles; it takes you up the valley, past the 3 waterfalls, to the Ka'au crater, then around the ridge of the crater and back down the valley. It is a much longer hike but for those with a day to spend hiking this may be a great choice!
  • This hike is not recommended if it is raining or has just been raining as it could be fairly hazardous... Make sure to check the weather before heading out.

Pack List

  • Water (even though it is shaded this is a hot and humid hike)
  • Snack
  • Hiking shoes (this is a very muddy trail and traction is important!)
  • Camera: as long as you are confident in your water crossing abilities, or have a waterproof backpack!
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RT Distance 2.5 Miles
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Forest
River
Waterfall

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Fun, very muddy hike

Well worth the effort! Make sure to bring water & prepare to get very muddy. It took us 3-4 hrs total to get to the 1st waterfall & back. Highly recommend, we‘re planning on doing the full loop next time.


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