Also read: Is the Kalalau Trail open today?
On occasion parts of the Kalalau Trail is closed to visitors. Sometimes this is due to trail maintenance or a planned event like it was last summer for the feral goat and pig hunt. When these planned events happen, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of State Parks does not issue permits during that time period. This can be disappointing if you were planning a trip for that time period but at least you can find out ahead of time that there are no permits available.
On other occasions the trail is closed without warning and any permits previously sold are cancelled. This can be extremely frustrating due to the costs and time involved in planning a trip and/or vacation to Hawaii to visit Kalalau. Not only is there the cost of the flight and transportation around the island but now you have to find another place to stay during the time that you were planning on being on the trail, let alone the cost of taking time off work. It is understandable that you could be frustrated.
When the trail is closed due to weather or dangerous conditions, the DLNR does this because of the danger that exists on the trail. Whether its because of fast moving dangerous streams, possible falling rocks/rock slides or other trail hazards, they are watching out for hikers when they make the decision to close the trail. It costs a lot of money to rescue hikers on the trail. Last year at least 190 people were airlifted out of the Kalalau Trail area by emergency crews. While most of these people were not injured, several had injuries and there were some deaths. It’s no wonder that the Kalalau Trail is listed as one of the 10 most dangerous hikes in America by Backpacker Magazine.
When the trail gets closed, I often get many emails asking when the trail will be open again or asking if the trail will be open by tomorrow. It’s the same answer every time. We don’t know when the trail will be back open until the decision is made to open it. Each day (and sometimes multiple times a day) the DLNR evaluates the situation based on current trail conditions and weather forecasts. When they decide it is safe, they will re-open the trail. If you check the local weather report, it could give you a hint of when they will open it back up. If the weather report says that the current storm will continue a couple days, then it might not open. If the report says that the storm is just about over and it should clear up soon, then the trail might be open the next morning. You can check current announcements on the announcement section of the Hawaii State Parks website. If the trail is closed, it will be posted on that site. We also try to post information on Facebook and/or Twitter when we know it.
I know it can be frustrating to deal with trail closures but trail is worth waiting for. If you have to plan another trip, do so. It will be worth it. USA Today didn’t rate The Kalalau Trail one of the 10 best hiking trails on Earth for no reason.