“This dry and isolated-feeling route rewards intrepid users with a tide pool oasis at Ka'aha Shelter.”
— Megan W
Swimming · Views · Wildlife
From its junction with the Hilina Pali Trail
, the Ka'aha Trail descends to the south, past numerous small lava tubes and caves. The water seems very close for a long distance, tantalizing weary travelers. The serene, rocky bay near the Ka'aha campsites/shelter has interesting tide pools and shallow spots for great snorkeling when the conditions are calm. Look for green turtles in the water and on the shore, but as always, give them lots of space.
Continuing southwest along the shore, the Ka'aha Trail crosses wrinkled lava fields with ahu cairns to mark the way. Keep an eye out for shallow, grass-filled depressions with rock outlines, these are agricultural pits used by native Hawaiians to grow food. You may also find old metal shell casings left over from when this area was used as a firing range in WW2. Enjoy the tide pools here, but beware of rip currents.
All too soon, the trail turns sharply away from the coast and crosses the wide plain towards the bluffs. After a very steep climb up the cliff, the grade eases somewhat, but the remainder of the trail is all uphill through a lot of rough lava. Just before the Ka'aha Trail terminates at the Ka'u Desert Trail
, you'll come across the Pepeiao Cabin and camping area. The cute red cabin has 3 beds but backpackers can also pitch tents.
Flora & Fauna
Marine life and turtles in the cove. Annoying but non-biting ants at camp.