KE‘E — Swaths of caution tape and several signs bar entrance to the Kalalau Trail.
The trail is monitored by the Department of Land and Natural Resources and a few locals who have taken it upon themselves to protect the public and the place itself, but a couple of people have made it down the trail a little ways.
Speaking anonymously because it’s illegal to hike the trail, one man who has hiked a ways into the jungle says the five landslides that covered the trail have been cleared and helicopters have been dropping workers along the trail to get it back up to par.
“It’s looking good,” the man said, standing at the trailhead, looking past the caution tape. “It’s maintained and getting in good condition.”
The 11-mile Kalalau Trail, famous worldwide, is described as one of the most epic places to hike. It takes visitors past majestic ocean views, across streams and along rugged cliffs with narrow ledges.
It’s also dangerous. People have been injured and have died hiking it. Some have been trapped when heavy rains raised streams too high to cross.
Still, when it’s open, it draws thousands each year. But it’s been closed since the April 2018 floods hit it with landslides, washed away parts and covers areas with debris.
A DLNR State Parks spokesperson says maintenance crews have been working over the past few months to stabilize and clear locations, according to officials with the DLNR’s Division of State Parks.
Since February, a volunteer group, the Friends of the Kalalau Trail, have conducted twice-monthly work days to clear the first two miles of the trail, from its beginning at Ke’e Beach to Hanakapiai Stream, the only section that is open to people without an overnight permit.
The state stopped issuing passes for Kalalau and Napali State Park, but some people still hold permits for camping and hiking the Kalalau Trail — recently people have posted in Kalalau groups wondering if their permits will be valid when they visit Kauai.
“Was really hoping Kalalau would be open for my May 23rd permit date,” one man posted in the Kalalau Trail Facebook group. “Watch they’ll open it a week later.”
Another person replied: “I have June 3-6, I feel the same way.”