Sacred Falls Oahu Hike: Why You Shouldn’t Go

by Josh Larsen

If you’re looking for an epic hike on Oahu, the Sacred Falls trail is definitely not it. This hike has been closed to the public since a landslide in 1999, and for good reason. The trail is extremely dangerous, and many people have lost their lives attempting to hike it. So if you’re thinking about hiking Sacred Falls, think again. There are plenty of other hikes on Oahu that are much safer and just as rewarding. (but if you do want to hike Sacred Falls, shoot me an email and we can talk about it offline 😉

Sacred Falls History

Sacred Falls is a waterfall located on the north shore of the island of Oahu in Hawaii. The falls are about 800 feet tall and flow into a pool at the bottom of a cliff. The falls and the pool are located in a lush, green valley surrounded by mountains. The Sacred Falls State Park was established in 1957 to protect the falls and the surrounding area.

Is Sacred Falls Open Now?

The falls were once a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, but that all changed in 1999 when a landslide occurred, killing eight people and injuring dozens more. After the accident, the state park was closed and has remained closed ever since.

Why is Sacred Falls So Dangerous?

Sacred Falls is dangerous because it is prone to rockslides, mudslides, and flash floods. Imagine being miles down a narrow trail with cliffs on each side. If a flash flood comes, you have nowhere to go. And if a rockslide comes, you could be buried alive. In total, more than twenty incidents have occurred where locals or tourists have been killed or injured attempting to hike sacred falls.

What is the Fine if You Get Caught?

If you are caught hiking Sacred Falls, you could be fined $2,500 for a first violation, $5,000 for a second violation, and $10,000 for the third violation.

On one occasion, we had finished the hike and were walking back to our car. When we got to the road leading up to the trail, a truck from DLNR surprised us. Someone in our group yelled “Run!” and we all scattered into the bushes.

Luckily, they didn’t chase after us but we ended up bushwhacking our way back to the highway – paranoid the whole time that we were going to get caught.

Is Sacred Falls Worth It?

In my opinion, that depends entirely on two things – 1. Did you get caught? 2. Did you get buried alive? If you can answer no to both of those questions, then my answer is yes. Sacred Falls is worth it. I may or may not have done the hike 3+ times myself. I was, however a young dumb college kid at the time, so looking back, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea. You can decide for yourself.

Why You Shouldn’t Hike Sacred Falls

The main reason why you shouldn’t hike Sacred Falls is that it’s incredibly dangerous. The trail is located on a very steep cliff, and there are several areas where the path is narrow and exposed. If you slip and fall, there’s a good chance you’ll either be seriously injured or killed.

In addition to the danger, the trail is also illegal. Since the state park is closed, it’s technically trespassing to hike the trail. And if you’re caught, you could be fined or even arrested. So not only is Sacred Falls dangerous, it’s also against the law.

What Are Some Other Hikes on Oahu?

If you’re looking for a safe and legal waterfall hike on Oahu, there are plenty of other options. For example, the Manoa Falls trail is a popular hike that leads to a 150-foot tall waterfall. Or you could hike to the top of Diamond Head for some stunning views of Honolulu.

No matter what hike you choose, just be sure to stay safe and obey the law. And whatever you do, don’t hike Sacred Falls. 😉

Have you hiked any of these trails before? Let me know in the comments!

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Josh Larsen


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