Supplemental: The Kalepa Ridge Trail
Koke'e State Park
If you came to this page looking for the general narrative of our hike down the Kalepa Ridge Trail, then you have come to the wrong place. You should go here
This page serves as a repository for supplemental pictures of our Kalepa Ridge hike. Additionally, it is written in a more 'guidebook'-like fashion, rather than as a narrative of our particular trip.
Supplemental images that are not in the general narrative are shown with a special color around them.
The Kalepa Ridge Trail is an infrequently-used trail that leads downhill from Kalalau Lookout in Koke'e State Park, on the island of Kaua'i. The trail follows the crest of Kalepa Ridge towards the ocean. The trail offers incredibly spectacular views of the fluted cliffs of the Na Pali Coast, but from a unique 'above' vantage point. At the lower end of the route, you can look straight down onto Kalalau Beach.
The trail is unofficial, meaning is it unmarked and not officially maintained. However, it is in reasonable shape and is fairly straightforward to follow - if you know what you are looking for.
The Kalepa Ridge Trail does have sections with big dropoffs. These dropoffs (and the general sense of exposure) get bigger the farther you go down the ridge. Since the route is a 'there-and-back', you simply choose the point at which you feel no longer comfortable continuing, and turn around.
Kalalau Lookout Parking Area
As mentioned above, the Kalepa Ridge Trail is un-marked. To get to the start of the trail, follow highway 550 up into Koke'e State Park, following it until you reach the Kalalau Lookout (which is not that far from where the highway ultimately dead-ends). There is generous parking in several areas around the lookout.
The Kalalau Lookout
From whichever parking area you use, walk to the Kalalau Lookout itself. The Lookout is protected by a steel green railing. Go to the left (the western) end of the green railing. You will notice a faint path leading down into the bushy forest just below the railing, on the other side. This is the start of the Kalepa Ridge Trail.
There is a small space at the left end of the main railing where you can squeeze through (there's another smaller fence which continues on further to the west, and there's a point where these two fences meet that you can get over).
Start of Kalepa Ridge Trail
The faint path heads steeply downhill for a few feet and enters the forest. Hidden just a few feet into the woods is an old rusted white sign. There is nothing particularly decipherable on it. However, if you see this sign, you are on the right path.
Continuing down through thick brush, the trail is quite steep and can be a bit slick. You might want to bring hiking poles for extra stability.
The upper part of the trail cuts through fairly thick forest and brush, with no views. It is easy to follow here, though, even though it is slightly overgrown. However, you only have to hike about ten minutes before you get to the first views. These first views are quite nice: Laid out before you, at an edge of red volcanic earth, is a spectacular view down into Kalalau Valley. These are only the initial views, though - it gets better as you descend.
Views into Kalalau Valley
After the initial brushiness, the trail enters a very nice section of open Lama tree forest, with a faint but followable path leading over grassy ground. Off to the right is the beautiful open abyss of Kalalau Valley.
The path continues down the right-hand side of the broad ridgecrest, more or less following the cliff top above Kalalau Valley. At times, the trail winds through some thick brush, but these sections are generally short. At other times, on the cliff edge, the trail is at times on bare red volcanic soil, and at other times on a thick turf of open grass.
The ridgecrest has several sections that are flat. These flattish sections are connected by short, steep grassy descents. Although the trail is followable, much of the time you are walking on actual grass (i.e. there hasn't been enough traffic to wear an actual dirt path into the ground).
Exhilarating Precipice walk