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Ho’opi’i Falls Trail in Kauai: Everything You Need to Know

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The Ho’opi’i Falls Trail is the quintessential Kauai hike, with a path winding through a lush rainforest of vines and primeval ferns and two beautiful waterfalls, cascading down rocky cliff sides. While the hike is stunningly gorgeous, it definitely has a few quirks along the way, like some sections with EXTREME mud and sketchy scrambling down a steep slope. Here’s everything you need to know about the Ho’opi’i Falls Trail. 

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Couple looking at Hoopii Falls along the Hoopii Falls Trail in Kauai
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About Ho’opi’i Falls trail

Length: 1.8 miles

Elevation gain: 164 feet

Difficulty: Most of the trail is moderate, but there’s definitely sections where you climb down to the falls that I’d consider a bit more technical and challenging.

Woman hiking along in a lush jungle in the Hoopii Falls Trail in Kauai

Dog-friendly? Yes, but they must be on a leash.

Do you need a pass or permit? Nope, this trail is totally free!

Can you camp here? No camping is allowed.

How to Get to Ho’opi’i Falls trail

The Ho’opi’i Falls trailhead is located here, in Kapa’a on the east side of the island. The trailhead leaves directly from Kapahi Road in a residential neighborhood, with parking available on the gravel section on the western side of the street. 

Cars parked along Kapahi Road near the Hoopii Falls Trail in Kauai

When parking, please be mindful to look out for “No parking” signs, not block residential driveways or the road, or otherwise not be a jerk to the residents here (e.g., if you get here early, be quiet when you’re opening and closing car doors). There’s only space for a handful of cars—if you happen to visit when they’re all taken, you’ll either need to find another street nearby where parking is legal or, alternatively, come back later.

Hopefully, the above statements should be pretty obvious, but I’m saying all of this because the trail is partially located on private land. If visitors are disrespectful to the trail and the residents around it, there’s a good chance it will be closed down for others to enjoy in the future–so don’t be that dude!

There’s several trailheads with social trails leading into the jungle—some of which meet up with the main trail (we wound up coming out of a different trailhead than the one we entered!) and some of which, I imagine, do not.

Woman hiking into the jungle along the Hoopii Falls Trail

This is a common theme throughout the trail, with several unofficial trails branching off throughout the property, so I’d strongly recommend downloading an offline map on AllTrails ahead of time, given that we didn’t have cell service along the trail—we ran into quite a few hikers who were super lost and didn’t know where to go!

Pssst… you'll need the AllTrails+ version of the app to download offline maps. Luckily, you can get a 7-day free trial, PLUS our awesome readers get a sweet 30% off discount for their first year—just use the code “Uprooted30” at check out! 

If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your AllTrails account to the paid version (I know it took me, like, five years to make the jump), we wrote a whole post about whether an AllTrails+ account is worth it.

What to Expect Along the Ho’opi’i Falls Trail

The out-and-back trail starts descending down a trail into the jungle. The ground is uneven, with rocks and roots jutting out of the ground, and often is quite slippery, due to huge mud puddles. 

About 0.2 miles into the trail, it’ll start snaking along the Kapa’a Stream, with thick vines and enormous ferns dripping from the towering trees above—I kind of felt like I was in an Indiana Jones movie!

Kapa'a Stream from the Hoopii Falls Trail in Kauai

You’ll reach the offshoot to the first waterfall, about 0.3 miles into the trail on the left-hand side. The offshoot is fairly short and will take you down to the first waterfall that’s about 20 feet high and has a small, narrow, and VERY cold plunge pool to swim in. 

It’s also one of the most popular cliff jumping spots in Kauai, but don’t jump unless you’re with a local who knows exactly which spots are safe to jump from—the water is dark here and has lots of enormous boulders lurking under the surface. Breaking your leg—or much worse (i.e., people have died here)—while jumping off a cliff would be a decidedly unfun memory for your Kauai trip.

Continuing on, the trail descends farther and farther down into the jungle along the Kapa’a Stream. The scenery gets more and more grand, as the trees seem to stretch higher above and the greenery gets even more lush.

Woman standing in a tunnel of trees along the Hoopii Falls Trail in Kauai

About 0.8 miles into the trail, you’ll reach the brink of the second falls, careening over a cliffside.  If the muddy and slippery trail thus far has been enough of an adventure for you, this is a good place to stop and take a breather before returning to the trailhead. 

Alternatively, if you want to climb down to the base of the waterfall, continue heading down the trail for a few minutes, keeping an eye out for a social trail on the left, leading steeply down the hillside (this trail is not shown on the AllTrails map). Here, you’ll need to scramble down some large slippery rocks and roots to get to a path that will lead you to the bottom of the falls. 

Woman hiking down Hoopii Falls in Hoopi Falls Trail in Kauai

The climb downhill is SUPER sketchy and I would not recommend attempting it, unless you’re an experienced hiker, you’re wearing appropriate footwear with traction, and it’s not super wet and slippery out. It would be incredibly easy to fall and break bones here, in the middle of the jungle with no cell reception—not a great situation to be in!

Once you’ve reached the bottom of the waterfall, you can either relax in the small pools along its tiered steps or, alternatively, swim in the lagoon at its base. There’s also a rope swing on the left hand side of the stream—but again, be incredibly careful to watch out for rocks and shallow sections if you decide to use it and jump at your own risk! The water here is FREEZING, so this one is definitely best enjoyed on a hot and sticky day.

Hoopii Falls along the Hoopii Falls Trail in Kauai

Even if you don’t want to swim, the view of Ho’opi’i Falls is worth the hike alone–it’s a wide waterfall, with countless streams cascading down a cliffside, with the luscious jungle surrounding it. The falls are so gorgeous, in fact, that it was used as a shooting location for the original Jurassic Park—it was the site of the amber mine! While I can’t guarantee that you’ll find any mosquitoes with ancient DNA that will enable you to clone any dinosaurs here, I promise that the views are pretty epic!

Once you’re done enjoying the falls, retrace your footsteps back to the trailhead. Just remember to save some energy and water for the hike back—the return hike will be entirely uphill!

Things to Know About the Ho’opi’i Falls Trail

Be respectful.

As mentioned above, a portion of this land is private and largely unmaintained—you won’t find any bathrooms, trash receptacles, or facilities/services here. 

So always follow the Leave No Trace principles (e.g., pack it in, pack it out) and tread lightly on this beautiful place—don’t wander off trail and if you see “Private Property” or “No Trespassing” signs, please abide by them!

Brink of Hoopii Falls along the Hoopii Falls Trail in Kauai

It’s also worth mentioning that, while researching this article, I came across some comments on other bloggers’ articles from locals that suggest that hiking on this trail is illegal. We didn’t see any signs to that effect while hiking, none of the friendly locals that we ran into at the trailhead said anything to us about it, and I can’t find any more formal sources that suggest that’s accurate. But, as with any trail, please do your own research and hike this trail at your own risk… legal, physical, or otherwise.

Wear waterproof boots.

In case it wasn’t abundantly clear above, there is SO much mud along the trail. Like, a ridiculous amount of mud. 

Between the mud, the uneven and slippery ground, and the sketchy, steep sections, wearing actual hiking boots is a must on this trail. To make the experience as enjoyable as possible, I’d recommend waterproof boots—my husband, Justin, has this pair and I have this pair.

Watch the weather.

Like other low elevation spots along streams and rivers in Kauai, the trail is at risk for flash flooding during periods of rain. I’d recommend steering clear of this trail if it is currently or supposed to rain in the coming hours—not only due to the flash-flooding risk, but also because of the copious amounts of slippery mud!

Bring bug spray.

Dude, the mosquitoes here are RUTHLESS. And it makes sense—you’re literally in the middle of a jungle next to a giant body of water. So be sure to bring along some bug spray to keep those (literal!) suckers at bay.

Lobster claw plant in Kauai

I hope you love the Ho’opi’i Falls Trail as much as I did. Do you have any questions about hiking on it? Let me know in the comments section below!

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