Virtually hike Kalalau Trail

  • Photo submitted by Med Dyer

    The chopper is a model of the actual rescue chopper that the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources uses in the Kalalau first-person video game. This can be seen around mile-marker 1.8 in the game.

  • Photo courtesy of Med Dyer

    This screen shot provides the descent to Hanakap’ai Beach of the Kalalau Trail. This is one of the most dangerous parts of the trail as the the warning sign suggests.

  • Photo courtesy of Med Dyer

    This screen shot of the video game provide a classic trail view, Red Hill, around mile-marker 9.5, looks down at Kalalau, with its famous welcome sign.

LIHU‘E — Some of Med Dyer’s goals while designing his second video game rendition of the Kalalau Trail were inspired by accessibility and his passion for the trail itself.

Dyer’s first video game release included the first two miles of the world-famous hiking trail, and this latest rendition includes the last nine miles of the trail.

The game — released by Dyer’s company, CraniaLab, LLC — follows the famous Kalalau Trail from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach, with a side trip to Hanakapi’ai Falls. It also includes challenges that maintain a sense of realism to the actual trail, such as finding all the discarded water bottles to earn a hiker’s badge.

In addition to special features, it also includes exploring Space Rock, Crawler’s Ledge and the waterfalls of the Na Pali Coast of Kaua‘i.

Because of the physical demands of the trail, Dyer admits the grueling 11-mile hike isn’t for everyone.

A “Backpacker Magazine” article listed the trail as one of the “10 Most Dangerous Hikes” in the United States in 2008. The article cited that more than 100 people have died attempting to swim on the trail’s remote beaches.

“The video game makes it possible for people that don’t have the time or the physical capability to be (on the trail) outside of a cabin-ran tour,” Dyer said. “This provides another way to visit where you don’t have to do the hike.”

Completing the first-person format video game took Dyer a year and a half.

“Designing this video game was a labor of love, and I did it because I like the trail,” Dyer said. “It ended up being quite a lot more work than I expected, but I find the technology to create it pretty impressive. I feel the game matches close to the same feel and look of the trail.”

Dyer didn’t utilize video or drone footage, instead, utilizing footage from the kiosk at the park to create the scenery.

“People that enjoyed the trail are pretty shocked at how particular the sights are,” Dyer said. “People who have made the trail love it and are super into it. People with the shorter version (of the game) wanted to see the longer version.”

The video game is essentially a virtual tour of the trail itself.

“Some video games take hours or days to complete. It’s not that kind of video game,” Dyer said. “You walk from one of the trails to the other, which is kind of it.”

For Dyer, an avid hiker, there is nothing that can simulate being at the trail in person.

“It is different feel being at the trail in person,” Dyer said. “Playing a video game is not that different from talking to a close relative or kid with Zoom. It’s nothing like the real thing. This game is a fun diversion, but that is about it. I think anyone who has their hearts set on hiking the real trail still wants to do that.”

The Kalalau Trail video game can be found on Steam.


Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or

  1. Bowman August 25, 2020 1:17 pm Reply

    so wheres link to the game for kalalau

  2. Shane August 26, 2020 2:41 am Reply

    You can go to the developer’s website for links to purchase through Steam and the Apple Store.

  3. KGD August 26, 2020 10:37 am Reply

    I wondered same thing – check it out here:

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