After disastrous flooding well over one year ago destroyed Kuhio Highway on Kauai, it is set to reopen on Monday, June 17. With it, the hugely popular Kalalau Trail will also reopen, but with some changes that visitors should be aware of.
The Kalalau Trail is one of the most popular destinations in all of Hawaii. It sees up to 500,000 visitors per year, much of that traffic on the two miles leading to Hanakapiai Falls. The state parks division says that the closure of the trail meant the loss of at least $500,000 in camping permit fees.
Among the changes at the Kalalau Trail will be that park rangers will be stationed in the valley seven days a week. In addition to checking permits and ensuring the safety of hikers and campers, the rangers will serve as cultural liaisons. They will speak with campers and hikers about Kalalau’s natural and human history, and about the importance the area holds for native Hawaiians.
The rangers will be equipped with first-aid certification and supplies. They will also carry satellite phones for communication in remote areas. The amount of camping permits issued will be limited to 60 per day (illegal camping and squatting in the area has been a problem for many years).
It is especially important for visitors to be aware that parking at the trailhead in Haena State Park is prohibited. Hikers and campers at the Kalalau Trail will need to be dropped off or take advantage of a community-run shuttle into the park.
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The changes are being made to reduce the number of visitors to the Kalalau Trail and Haena State Park. It is one of the most premiere nature areas in the world, and it has become ever more popular. It is part of an effort to encourage responsible use and enjoyment of natural resources that is growing around the world.
The Kalalau Trail to Hanakapiai Falls and Hanakapiai made the news in recent years as inexperienced and/or unprepared hikers have needed to be rescued, have been serious injured, and in several cases drowned in flash floods and deadly currents at the beach. The changes at the trail seek to minimize the number of these incidents.
Visitors are well-advised to speak with park rangers before heading out on the 11-mile Kalalau Trail. It is a two-day trip for most, which is plenty of time to find yourself in a dangerous situation. The rapid growth of eco-tourism has seen many natural areas around the world degraded, and many a hapless tourist injured or killed.
The Kalalau Trail is certainly one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Hiking and camping enthusiasts, both visitor and resident, are thrilled with its reopening. The changes they will encounter are intended to preserve its beauty and to ensure the safety of all those who enter.
Contact Hawaii Aloha Travel for more information about Kauai’s Haena State Park and the Kalalau Trail. We’re local experts and will be happy to help you plan the ideal experience.