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Off the Beaten Path: Hit the Trail on These 5 Lesser-Known Hikes in Hawaii

by | Mar 30, 2021 | At Home In Hawaii

Hiking in Hawaii is an experience like no other. From lush jungles teeming with life to vast barren craters, the variety of terrain on these islands is second to none. Whether you were born for the outdoors and love nothing more than a challenging adventure, or you’d prefer to spend the day lounging beside a waterfall, there is always the perfect spot for you to enjoy all the beauty that Hawaii has to offer.

While the islands boast a number of world-famous hikes—such as the Haleakala crater of Maui or the Kalalau trail on Kauai—we’re here to shine a light on some of the hidden gems of Hawaii. Here are 5 lesser-known hikes that we absolutely love!

Waipio Valley Trail — Big Island
MODERATE

Also known as “Valley of the Kings,” this historic site was once home to Hawaiian royalty! The beautiful, 4.7-mile out-and-back trail offers a view of Hi’ilawe Falls at the valley floor, one of the tallest in Hawaii, plummeting a staggering 1,450 feet into the jungle bellow! Although you can’t venture too far into the valley due to it being located on private property, the views from the cliffside and along Waipio Beach are top-tier. As you trek across the valley, you may also be greeted by some friendly wild horses! Make sure to pack plenty of water, as fresh water is unavailable in the valley.


Makaleha Trail — Kauai
Difficult

Makaleha Trail

If you’re an experienced hiker who loves adventure and doesn’t mind getting muddy, this is a world-class hike! This 2.8-mile roundtrip trail begins with a slippery hike upstream but is more than worth the trek as it ends with the beautiful sight of Makaleha falls. These cascading waterfalls tumble over two rocky ledges into a chilly mountain pond below, a perfect place to cool off and enjoy the view!

Tip: This trail is known to be challenging for some. Use the river as a guide to avoid getting lost and be prepared with good hiking shoes. Avoid the trail in the wake of a large rainfall as flash floods can be dangerous.


Lahaina Pali trail — MauI
Difficult

Lahaina Pali Trail, Maui

This historic trail is ideal for those who like a challenge! Best tackled early in the day to avoid the heat, this winding trail takes you through the rocky grasslands of the West Maui Mountains, culminating in spectacular views of central Maui and Haleakala from the windmills! Long before the highway was built, this trail was actually the preferred route to get to Lahaina. The hike is 3.8 miles to the top or 5.0 miles through the mountains. Bring plenty of water and another car to drive back if you’re planning on hiking through to the other side, as it’s a one-way journey.  


Alelele Falls — Maui
EASY

A short, 0.3 mile hike near Hana, this underrated waterfall is typically less crowded than those seen at the beginning of the road to Hana, which is a shame since this might just be our favorite! Dropping down a stunning 50 feet into a natural pool, these falls offer a quiet retreat after a long day of driving.  


Kuilau Ridge Trail — Kauai
MODERATE

This is a 2.25-mile out-and-back trail that offers fantastic valley views and an otherworldly variety of Kauai’s flora! An easy-moderate trail that can be muddy at times but remains a great family option for those of all hiking abilities. During the hike, you will encounter a great picnic area with two tables and a shelter!

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