The Clever Girl’s Guide to Hiking Kauai's Kalepa Ridge Trail

Hey Clever Girls!

My latest trip to Hawaii slid me right out of my resort-life comfort zone, quite literally. I spent one early morning slipping, sliding, and clinging for dear life while hiking the Kalepa Ridge Trail in Kauai. If you’re down for some tips, gorgeous pics, or just want to make fun of my overly dramatic retelling of a hike, please read on.

After a serious amount of back and forth, my Denverite sister, Kristin, convinced me and my youngest brother, Jacob, to hike this unofficial trail with her. So just to be clear, I’m placing full blame for the soreness, dirty clothes, and sheer terror on her. But was it worth it? Yes? But never again. Let me explain.

First off, it’s recommended to get to the trailhead at the Kalalau Lookout by sunrise to make it to the end before the clouds roll in.  I’m pretty much the opposite of a morning person so this was a great start, even though we were still driving from the south side of the island as the sun was rising. We made it around 7:50 am, just as a few other hikers were starting.

We scooted around the fence on the left side of the lookout and instantly threw out any desire of keeping our shoes clean. I was in normal tennis shoes that turned out to be glorified ballet slippers with ZERO traction.  Not even two minutes in and we were letting the other hikers spider monkey around us. We later found out a lot of these “fearless” hikers actually had spikes on their shoes. BRILLIANT. Did I mention I’m an inexperienced hiker?

The steep declines appeared almost immediately. This is where I assumed an all-fours position that I used basically for the entirety of the hike.  KILLER quad workout btw. At first, the path was surrounded by trees and brush and didn’t seem too bad.  We went in August and it was super muddy but not as bad as I imagine winter is. About twenty minutes in there was a landing with the first stunning view.  Incredible.

I naively thought things would get easier as we went along, but I was wrong. If you’re questioning the first part of the hike, don’t force the rest of it. The next couple of declines were even steeper and muddier, but by this point we saw the massive drop-offs down the side of the mountain.  Yikes! I’m not sure when I got my fear of heights, but it was DEFinitely put to the test.

We came to a big grassy area past one of the steepest mud walls where the fear factor shifted from muddy/steep hills to narrow paths/drop-offs.  The views were amAZing. If the weather is nice, take your time and enjoy it. We saw some clouds behind us that made us a bit nervous so we kept moving.  Some of the blogs we came across described heavy rains coming through. I have NO idea how they did this hike in the rain. Terrifying.

Right before the end peak is an exTREMEly narrow trail. I’m not sure if it was all the rain from the previous days, but there was basically no path we had to follow. It felt like both sides had equally devastating drop-offs that came to a point where the “path” was. Kristin and I were clinging to the blades of grass for dear life and I specifically remember saying out loud on the return “I’m not scared. I’m not scared”.

But juuuuust after you question turning back on that part, you’ve reached the end! It was about 9:30 for us, so a little over an hour and a half. Hopefully, you’re luckier than us and don’t have hikers ahead of you refusing to share the space for your photos. This is when the clouds started to roll in, too.  But it didn’t matter. We made it! It was such a feat to accomplish and it was so nice bonding with my brother and sister. Even if, my 6’4” brother was scaring the sh*t out of me walking near the edge and just generally looking extra tall.  But maybe that was just me projecting my fear of heights? But probably not.

With the clouds coming in and the winds picking up, we decided to book it right back out of there.  My entire body was clenched on the way back. And while the steep inclines were easier to climb up than down, my body was shaking like a baby Bambi at this point so I needed to hurry. (*You probably won’t experience this if you don’t assume the all-fours position like I did for the entirety of the hike.) After nailing my head on a couple of trees coming back, we reach the trailhead at Kalalau Lookout. Bruised, sore, and super muddy, but uplifted and with a ton of incredible pictures and videos!

Did I scare you out of doing it? I hope not. It was an insane experience with some of the best views.  Would I, someone with a fear of heights, do it for a second time? No. But I encourage you to check it out. You can always turn back! Just watch the weather, prep as much as you can, and be safe.

Feel free to reach out with any questions or comments if you’re interested in doing the hike or have done it before!

Happy hiking!

Love. Inspire. Grow. Enjoy.

Jordan

PS- Check out our Instagram highlight @theblingsling "Kauai" for video clips from the hike!

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2 comments

  • You ARE badass!

    Jordan
  • Thanks for making me sound like a super badass when I think I ended up being the most scared!!!

    Kristin

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