Best Backpacking In Hawaii

Our comprehensive guide to the best backpacking you can find in Hawaii.
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Our comprehensive guide to the best backpacking you can find in Hawaii.

Kalalau Trail

The Na Pali Coast on Kauai is almost as paradisiacal as island backpacking gets. Walk 11 miles (one way) through lush bamboo, mango, and guava forests, past 100-foot waterfalls and sheer green cliffs, until you finally squish your toes in miles of sandy beach. The swimming is great for the ocean-savvy. Expect occasionally steep and rocky hiking, and some company from boat-in campers.

Contact: Na Pali Coast State Park, (808) 274-3445; www.state.hi.us/dlnr/

dsp/NaPali/na_pali.htm.

Sliding Sands and Kaupo Trails

Road's end (and trail's start) on the 10,023-foot summit of Haleakala is dry, rocky, and barren, but the contiguous trails' terminus at Kaupo Village is rainforest-wet at sea level, with all manner of topography and foliage in between. Expect sun and rain on this 18-mile hike on the island of Maui.

Contact: Haleakala National Park, (808) 572-4400; www.nps.gov/hale.

Mauna Loa Trail

In 36 miles (round-trip), this strenuous trail slowly climbs 7,000 feet to Mauna Loa's 13,677-foot summit, then quickly loses it all. Along the way, you'll travel from tropical rainforest to a summit so high it's sometimes snowcapped. Splatter cones and old lava flows add geologic color to the vegetable greens.

Contact: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, (808) 985-6000; www.nps.gov/havo.