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Kalalau Trail, Hawaii, USA

The Kalalau Trail is regarded as one of the most beautiful short hikes in the USA, and possibly the world. It's a 35km, 4 hour round trip, with an elevation gain of 300 metres, but don't be too complacent in contemplating this hike, as the footing can be extremely tricky, the trail requires much ascending and descending, and the hot weather can be totally draining on your energy reserves. If you are fit and used to rugged outdoor recreation, then the Kalalau Trail should be given high priority on your hiking list.

Kalalau Trail, Hawaii, USA

Entry to the Kalalau Trail is free. Permits should be obtained from Kauai District State Parks office (3060 Eiwa St., #306, Lihue, HI 96766). There are 3 camping areas located along the Kalalau Trail. The best time to go is during the summer, from May to October. Outside of this season, the Kalalau Trail can be dangerous to navigate, due to the real possibility of flash floods.

To begin the Kalalau Trail, you will start at the end of Highway 560. The first part of this hike is popular, and offers outstanding views of the coastline. From there you will pass through Hanakapi'ai Beach. Although swimming is possible here, take care of the strong currents in the area. If you don't wish to do the entire trail and just want a view of Na Pail, you can turn around after hiking this trail for 400m.

From here you will trek to Hoolulu valley, a region with waterfalls, verdant cliffs, and steep canyon walls. Next you pass to Hanakoa Valley, where you may see mango and guava trees along the way. Camping is possible near Hanakoa Stream. You may take a side trip of 500m to Hanakoa Falls.

The next portion of the hike, to Kalalau Aeach, will expose you to a great deal of sun, so be prepared. The trail winds along a precarious cliff edge, then descends to Kalalau Stream. Fresh water may be obtained at the stream. Lovely, isolated Kalalau Beach finally awaits you after your arduous hike! There is a waterfall located at the end of the beach, where you can obtain some water. Swimming is possible here, but again not recommended, due to the dangerous powerful currents. You may camp here up for up to 5 days.

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