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The stunning visuals provided by Akaka Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in Hawaii, are well worth the short hike to get there. The paved concrete path has easy to manage stairs with hand rails, and can be accomplished by children and adults of all ages.
Time Required: 45 Minutes
Location: 17 miles (27km) north of Hilo
Distance: 0.4 mile (0.7km) loop
Highest Elevation: 800ft (300m)
Elevation Gain: not noteworthy
Difficulty: 2/10 – Paved path
Season: Year round
Additional Requirements: N/A
From Hilo: Take the HI-19 (Hawaii Belt Rd) 11 miles north of Hilo. You’ll come to a small town called Honomu and take a left onto Honomu Rd just passed mile marker 13.5. Very shortly after that, take another left onto State Hwy 220. Turn right to stay on State Hwy 220. Follow that road for 3.3 miles until you reach the Akaka Falls State Park.
WHAT TO BRING
- Comfortable Footwear:Hikers or runners will do just fine. You could probably get away with wearing sandals on this one.
- Water:This is a short hike, but it is always smart to bring water. It is hot in Hawaii and you don’t want to get dehydrated.
- Sunscreen:If it is sunny and you’re like Mattson, who easily burns, bring sunscreen!
- Insect Repellent:Insect repellent can greatly improve your hiking experience.
- Camera:There are numerous photo opportunities you won’t want to miss.
- This Guide:Print a copy of this guide to reference throughout the hike
Fees: The parking lot near the falls charges $5.00 per vehicle but if you wanted to park just outside the parking lot, it’s free and will only add another 200ft to your hike. There is also a $1.00 per person admission fee to enter the trail.
Time of day: The view of the falls is a little bit brighter in the morning hours when the sun is in the east. The falls are beautiful at any time of the day but there is more direct sunlight on the falls in the morning making this the best time to visit.
Leave No Trace: It is important that we enjoy the outdoors responsibly and sustainably. Some key principles to consider when hiking to “Leave No Trace” are:
- Plan ahead and prepare: Proper planning allows adventurers to hike safely while minimizing damage to the land.
- Travel on durable surfaces: Stick to the trail when possible. If there is no trail, or you must travel off trail, stay on durable surfaces to reduce your impact.
- Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out.
- Leave what you find: Leave rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts and other objects of interest as you find them.
- Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance. Never feed wild animals.
- Be considerate of other visitors: Be courteous to others to allow everyone to enjoy their outdoor experience.
To learn more about “Leave No Trace” visit http://www.leavenotrace.ca
Summary: The starting point for this hike is at the parking lot just off Hwy 220. The trail is a large loop that will take you to view points of both Kahuna Falls and Akaka Falls. We recommend travelling counterclockwise around the loop as Akaka Falls are far superior to Kahuna Falls and make for a better climax to the hike.
The trailhead (Route marker #1 on the map) is on the west side of the parking lot and the washrooms at the north end. There is usually someone at the trailhead collecting the $1.00 per hiker fee. Follow the trail down a short set of stairs down until you reach a fork. There will be signs marking left to Akaka Falls and right to Kahuna Falls. This is a looped trail so you will see both, but we recommend heading right to Kahuna Falls first.
Follow the path to the right through beautiful lush green ferns and orchid trees. The elevation is very minimal. This is a very nice trail for the families.
Continue following the loop until you reach the Kahuna Falls lookout point (Route marker #2 on the map). Although Kahuna Falls is nearly the same size as Akaka Falls, it doesn’t receive the same fame and attention as it is more difficult to view. Kahuna Falls can only be viewed from the side so it can be difficult to see with the lush vegetation growing around it. On a day when the water is high and flowing fast, Kahuna can shoot out passed the trees and be very pretty to look at. Although the view of Kahuna falls isn’t spectacular, it is a nice walk through the bamboo trees and a good pre-cursor to the spectacular Akaka Falls.
After continuing around the loop from Kahuna Falls the trail leads to the more famous and spectacular Akaka Falls (Route marker #3 on the map). The immense 442ft waterfall pours into a stream-eroded gorge. Akaka falls is one of the most famous waterfalls on the Big Island.
Enjoy the view of the spectacular falls before continuing along the trail counterclockwise to return to the parking lot where you left your vehicle.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
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Have fun out there!