Kaau Crater Trail (Ka’au)

Difficult but rewarding trail that features 3 waterfalls and incredible ridgeline views

DIFFICULTYLENGTHELEVATION GAINROUTE TYPE
Hard7.3 mi / 5.6 hrs2211 ftLoop

The Hike

The Kaau Crater Trail is a difficult but rewarding hike that starts deep in Palolo Valley and goes up to the ridgeline of the Koolau Range around the crater and back down to where you started. Throughout the hike you’ll encounter 3 waterfalls and get great views of inside the Kaau Crater, out over Palolo Valley, and along the ridgeline panoramic views of Windward Oahu including Kaneohe Bay, The Mokes, and the Windward towns of Kailua, Kaneohe, and Waimanalo. If you’re not an experienced hiker you can get to the first waterfall before turning back, but if you’re a more experienced hiker and have a spare 5 or 6 hours the complete hike is incredibly rewarding. With the rainforest setting and all the streams you’ll encounter expect to get a little muddy, and with steepness of some parts you’ll want to be careful, take your time and watch your step, it can be dangerous at times.

The Tips

  • Its a long challenging hike so make sure you pack lots of water and snacks, you’ll likely be on the trail for over 5 hours.
  • You might want to bring some sunscreen and bug spray as well.
  • Pay attention to the pink ribbons posted periodically throughout the hike, they’re there to help you identify the direction of the trail.

The Parking

You can find street parking on Waiamao Rd near the trailhead.

The Route