One of the most common questions asked is “Is the trail open today?” or “Will the trail re-open by tomorrow?”
Trail closures are controlled by the State of Hawaii, Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). There are two main types of closures – planned closures and safety closures.
• Planned closures – These closures are announced well in advance. Usually the permit reservation system won’t allow you to reserve a permit during these closures. These closures can result from periods of trail maintenance, hunting or other activities.
• Safety closures – These are often last-minute closures with little or no advance warning. Swollen streams and other unanticipated hazards during and after storms that make the trail too dangerous to cross will cause this type of closure.
A safety closure remains in effect until the DLNR determines it is safe to hike the trail. There is no telling when the trail will be deemed safe and the closure lifted. The answer to the question, “Will the trail re-open tomorrow?” is often “If the State determines it to be safe, then it should be open tomorrow.” which isn’t necessarily helpful.
A better question might be “How and when can I find out if the trail re-opens tomorrow?”
When the Kalalau Trail is currently closed, the DLNR usually places an easy to see, red notification near the top of the following page: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/hiking/kauai/kalalau-trail/
If the trail was closed the day prior and is determined to be safe to re-open, we have noted that DLNR removes the “closed banner” sometime after 7:30 am, Hawaii time.
If you are worried about your upcoming hike, your best bet is to check the weather reports. If there’s a storm in the forecast, keep watching and checking the site. There’s a chance it might be closed. If the forecast says that it should clear up, then you could be in luck.
Whether you hike the trail in rainy conditions or dry conditions, always hike cautiously. The trail isn’t listed as one of the Most Dangerous Trails for nothing.