The Kalalau Trial provides the only land access to this part of the rugged Napali Coast, known for being featured in the sweeping helicopter flyover shots in the film Jurassic Park. The there-and-back hike is 11 miles each way from the trailhead at Ke'e Beach for a total of 22 miles round trip. Some expert hikers can complete the 22 miles there-and-back in one day, but most hikers require two days or more with a camping permit.
While the views are astounding, the challenges are also significant. The Kalalau Trial was listed by Backpacker Magazine as one the "10 Most Dangerous Hikes" in the U.S. and by Outside Magazine as one of "The 20 Most Dangerous Hikes" in the world. This is for two main reasons: some eroded areas of the trail are along high, narrow cliffs, and there are three major stream crossings along the way (Hanakapiai, Hanakoa, and Kalalau) where waters can rise quickly with Kauai’s rain and become impassible.
The most strenuous part of the hike occurs after Hanakapiai Beach, where the trail climbs from sea level to 800 feet in 1.25 miles. In total, the trail traverses five valleys before ending at Kalalau Beach. Camping is only allowed at Hanakoa or Kalalau, and permits are required to camp. As of March 2015, hikers are allowed to go to Hanakapiai and up to Hanakapiai Falls as a day hike without a permit, but permits are required to hike past Hanakapiai even if you don’t plan to camp. The authorized camp sites do not have tables or drinking water. Composting toilets are available at Hanakapiai, Hanakoa, and Kalalau.