Water Management

water Jul 14, 2021

The Kalalau Trail, with its 11+ miles, is obviously long, and given the temperatures, you can expect to sweat a fair bit. This brings up the question of how to approach the water situation, so you can be sure to stay hydrated and not run out. 

Many mainland trails require the hiker to bring all the water they’ll need, which is obviously adding a lot of extra weight. Fortunately, that’s not necessary for the Kalalau Trail.

The Kalalau Trail - from a water perspective - roughly breaks down into two halves: 

The first half, from Ke’e Beach to Hanakoa, basically has two main water sources: Hanakapi’ai Stream and Hanakoa Stream. (There are smaller, little creeks and springs here and there, but they may run dry and are generally not reliable.) 

From there, in the second half, you’ll find frequent streams roughly every mile even though this is the more arid and exposed part of the trail.

The following strategy has worked well for me, but obviously, it will depend on your particular needs and how much you tend to drink:

  • I start with 2l of water at Ke’e Beach (your mileage may vary). (I use lightweight Nalgene bottles and skip the “bladder” due to weight and since it’s harder to refill on the go.)
  • I may refill at Hanakapi’ai Stream or at a minimum at Hanakoa, depending on how much I’ve drunk. 
  • Once past Hanakoa, I mostly don’t worry about water too much due to frequent sources. That said, I aim to never have less than 1l ready-to-drink water remaining.
  • On the 2nd half of the trail, I also use one Liquid IV packet to aid hydration. 
  • Once in camp, the waterfall is a great source of whatever water I need.
  • And it makes for a great shower too. (A word of caution though: Occasionally, rocks fall down and present the chance of (serious) injury, so you’ll want to minimize your time right under and by the waterfall.)

As you can see, the water situation on the Kalalau Trail is actually pretty straightforward and prevents you from having to lug too much water around. This is one of the many reasons that make this trail so awesome

Of course, there is one more aspect to cover: How does one properly treat the stream water to make sure it’s safe to drink? More on that in this post.



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