7 Falls Hike, Oahu, Hawaii !Dangerous Hike!

rappelling 7 seven falls Oahu Hawaii girl rock climbing hiking waterfall jungle

Seven Falls is the craziest hike I’ve probably ever done in my life. The beautiful valley kept my heart pounding, but the steep and wet climbs kept my knees shaking.  Seven falls is the hike we thought we were embarking on the previous week, when we accidentally did Kaipapau Falls.  They are separated by a single ridge and have relatively similar trailheads.

Oahu 7 falls graffiti

Similar to Kaipapau, you will begin in the back of a neighborhood following a paved path into the valley.  To find this trail, you will want to drive to Hauula homestead road and drive towards the mountains.  The street will briefly turn into Maakua Rd., at which point you should notice a yellow gate at the end.  Walk past the yellow gate and you will find yourself on the paved path illustrated in the photo above.  I’m not exactly sure of the legality of this hike or what the locals’ opinion is about people venturing back here. As a rule of thumb, if you are white, you are probably not welcome, so be as discrete as you can until you are away from the neighborhood and in the forest.

Hawaii Oahu Jungle Fern Princess Girl Fairy

The jungle here is extremely green and lush. I have no doubt the locals use the area for hunting.  The trail is not super frequented, so pay attention for trail marker flagging tape throughout to keep you on track.  But as long as you are making your way deeper into the valley, you are going the right direction.

Oahu Hawaii Hiking Narrow Valley 7 seven falls Hike Girl Beautiful

Just like Kaipapau Falls, we spent a large proportion of the overall trek in the stream bed.  The view was beautiful and I can honestly say that I have never been in such a narrow valley before in my entire life.  There were parts of the hike where it felt like we could have reached out and touched each side of the valley.

Flash flood damage Oahu

The problem with narrow valleys and waterfalls is flash flooding.  Above is a photo of a pile of tangled trees and rubble which flushed down the valley during the last rain.  Be sure to pick a sunny day to do this hike. Nobody wants you getting crushed by a wave of debris.  Remember, if you die, the state will likely close the hike permanently (like they have for others: Mariner’s Ridge, Dead Man’s Catwalk, Stairway to Heaven, Sacred Falls…).  Please use your best judgement and excursive caution. If in doubt, don’t go out!

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After hiking for about an hour and a half, we finally had our first glimpse of moisture in the valley.  Certain waterfall hikes on Oahu, can be a gamble.  On the one side you want to go hiking on a sunny day for better pictures and to avoid flash flooding, but on the other side all of Oahu’s waterfalls are sourced by rainfall.  You just have to find a balance.

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After nearly 2 hours of hiking we reached the first waterfall!  It doesn’t look like much but trust me, it’s a fun one.

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We decided we would kick it on this fallen tree, which had lodged itself between the two walls of the valley, to refuel with some well deserved lunch.  This particular hike is an all day type of adventure, so be sure to pack plenty of snacks and water to keep morale high (also not a bad idea to keep a bunch of snacks handy in case you get stuck and have to wait for a rescue team… cell reception was a bit spotty out there).

1st first waterfall 7 seven falls Oahu Hawaii Hike waterfall jungle

After our quick pitstop, we resumed our progress. The pool in front of this waterfall was probably 10ft deep at it’s deepest, but became quite shallow towards the edges.  We were able to jump into the pool from the rock above. But again, be careful! The rock was extremely slippery, and if you do not hit the deep spot then you will probably break something (like my good friend Tua).  Beneath the rock is a rope, which is the easiest method for scaling the wall. It will take you through a tiny tunnel below the rock (pretty dope).

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Once we conquered the first waterfall, the second was immediately in sight.

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Those smiles are smiles are pure stoke.  I get excited just looking back at these photo. The location is amazing.

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We quickly made our way over the slippery and wobbly rocks of the stream bed to assess our next obstacle. This waterfall was distinctly higher and the pool beneath it was only about a foot deep and full of stones (so no cushion if we fall).  You may also notice the long rope dangling off to the side… We did not put it there and we had not idea how long it had been there.  We had no reason to trust in the structural integrity of the rope or the anchor it was tied to, but we would not be stopped by sketchy ropes.

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DISCLAIMER: YOU SHOULD NEVER TRUST A ROPE THAT YOU DID NOT TIE YOURSELF. ROPES COULD BE LOOSELY TIED, DAMAGED AND OLD. NOT TO MENTION THE TREE/ROCK THEY ARE ANCHORED TO COULD BECOME DISLODGED AT WHICH POINT YOU WOULD FALL AND PULL UKNOWN AMOUNTS OF DEBRIS ONTO YOURSELF. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!!! DO NOT BLAME THE STATE OF HAWAII OR MOTHER NATURE FOR YOUR OWN ACCIDENTS!!!!!!!

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One of the trickier parts was having to transition from the long rope to a short fat rope to continue to the top.  Not gonna to lie, I was holding onto those ropes pretty dang hard.

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We had to perform a sketch little swing maneuver, but we overcame.

3rd Third waterfall seven 7 falls Hike Oahu Hawaii Hiking adventures explore exploration

After hoping across a few more stones, the 3rd waterfall came into view.

7 seven falls waterfall sexy girl hot Oahu Hawaii hike hiking jungle valley

I was very lucky to be accompanied by my beautiful lady friend, who did not bat an eye at a single one the climbs we had to do.

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As we approached the next climb, we realized the rope was sitting in wet moss and had become completely saturated with water.  Furthermore, it would appear that the base of the rope had already snapped, and someone had fixed it by simply tying another piece of rope to the old one…  As if this was not disconcerting enough, this rope did not have any knots to help us hold onto it as we continued our climb.

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As I was coming up with excuses on how this rope was unfit for climbing, my girlfriend just started scaling the wet wall.  Thankfully, there was a small ledge we could rest on about halfway up.  This climb was particularly exhausting.  The lack of knots on the slippery wet rope made us clench onto it so hard that our arms were shaking by the end of it.

rappelling 7 seven falls Oahu Hawaii girl rock climbing hiking waterfall jungle

I have to admit, when we first began dating, I took her on a series of pretty sketchy adventures to see how she would handle herself. To see if she could make the cut…  This was one of those instances. She blew me away!

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After getting over the 3rd waterfall, it suddenly hit me that we would eventually need to climb back down to get home.

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The thought of going back down was rather unsettling.  But we moved onward to see what else this adventure held in store for us.

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As the winding stream snaked its way through the mountains, we slowly moved up in altitude.  Progress through the valley was, at times, slow and arduous.  The rocks teetered and rolled as we stepped on them. It was often easier to just drop down on all fours and crab walk.  This is not the last place you want to roll your ankle.

4th fourth waterfall seven 7 falls Hike hiking oahu Hawaii valley stream bed

Upon arrival to the 4th waterfall, we were relieved by its short stature.

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However, as we got closer, it became apparent that the rope had broken about halfway up the waterfall.  Not only did this rope only have a few knots to assist us, but it was also wetter than the previous ropes we had climbed.  To reach the dangling and sopping wet rope we had to use that wet log and a few slippery finger holds to climb as high as we could.  It was still a stretch to attain the very tip of the rope.  My girlfriend made it with considerably more ease and grace than I.

Waterfall woman

We came across a variety of shorter waterfalls as we moved up the valley. Perhaps this is waterfall #5.

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Eventually, we made it to the 6th and tallest of the waterfalls.

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We did not see a way of continuing beyond this waterfall, so we celebrated our survival by having a few more snacks.

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Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?

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As we looked up to the top of the waterfall, we were able to notice a few ropes that had been tied to a rock. These ropes had either been cut or broke.   Unfortunately, it is unlikely that we will ever be able to go beyond this point without those ropes.  However, a side of me was relieved to know I would not have to climb a +50ft waterfall with some antique rope.

On the way down we focused more on safety than taking photos. But I must admit going down the ropes was easier than climbing them (although I was still super nervous).  Waterfall #4 nearly killed me on the descent as I could not reach the log without dropping form the rope though.

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As we made our way back to the car, we stopped for a quick and impromptu tag session (JK! There were some empty spray paint cans on the ground next to this graffiti… We are such posers).

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In celebration of our survival, we decided to hit up the north shore, but not before some Kahuku Fumis Shrimp!!!

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Nothing builds your appetite like risking your life as you rappel down gorgeous waterfalls with old junky ropes all day.  We really needed this.

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North Shore sunsets are the best.  Not a bad date. In the end the hike took us 8 hours, so be sure to plan accordingly if you want to this bad boy.

0 thoughts on “7 Falls Hike, Oahu, Hawaii !Dangerous Hike!

  1. Bespoke Traveler March 1, 2016 / 11:20 pm

    Looks like an absolutely gorgeous hike, especially that climb up the waterfall.

    • sunshinehawaii March 3, 2016 / 4:06 am

      It really is the prefect mix of beauty and danger. Almost enough for a blockbuster movie 😛

  2. Jeff Van der Pol July 5, 2016 / 4:54 am

    I was so glad that I found this blog post that you wrote! You have captured the trail beautifully and have taken some very good pictures. It brings back so many memories.

    I was in the Navy and stationed in Pearl Harbor when I attempted this hike with two of my shipmates somewhere in the ’97-’99 time frame. For some reason I have been thinking a lot lately about this hike we took called “7 Falls” and how close I came to getting seriously hurt, paralyzed or even killed.

    I’m very impressed that you made it all the way to the 6th waterfall! We did not make it that far.

    One of the two guys I went with had invited the other two of us to do this trail with him and (obviously) we said yes. I don’t remember that the trail started in a neighborhood, but I do remember that it took awhile to get to the first water fall and the deep pool there. Wading through that pool, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

    We did the first waterfall easily. The second water fall was pretty close to the first one and somehow I remember it as being about the same height as the first though your pictures clearly show that isn’t true. We did that one no problem as well. It was after either the second or third waterfall that the guy who invited us said he wasn’t going to go on any further. Turns out he had already done this part of the trail and had no intention of attempting the next one. Me and the other guy continued on to at least check it out. My memory is that it was quite a ways to the next one.

    When we arrived, I seem to remember that it was significantly higher than the waterfalls we had just done. I’m not sure if it was the third or the fourth one. The fourth one doesn’t seem like its higher than the second or third from your pictures. In fact, you commented on its “short stature.” After looking at the waterfall for a minute or two, I said to my buddy, “Are you going up first or am I?” To which he replied, “I’m not going up that.” Long pause. “Well, I guess its me then” After spending a few minutes planning my footholds up the cliff face, I began to climb.

    On all the other waterfalls, the rope was hung off to the side of the water, but on this one the water was coming down right where the rope was. This seems to coincide with your pictures of the fourth one. The water was ice cold, pouring continuously on my head and sapping my energy. I was making decent progress but could definitely feel myself getting weaker. I was about 3/4 of the way up when I realized I probably wasn’t going to make it. At this point, my arm muscles failed and I let go of the rope and fell for what seemed like about a half an hour with nothing but a blur of gray rock in my vision. I just recently contacted the guy who was there. He said I “skipped” down the cliff face. But, I don’t remember that. I landed in a very shallow, very small pool (about 18″ deep and the size of a kiddie pool). I immediately popped up and said something to the effect of, “I’m okay! I’m okay!” to my buddy who was sitting there with mouth agape. And I really was okay. No broken bones, no huge cuts, scrapes or gashes. The only thing I had was a small cut near my right elbow.

    At the time, it was just a story to tell, but when I think of it now, the realization that the outcome could have been much different is quite sobering. I don’t remember anything about the hike back down the waterfalls we had already done.

    The thing that drove me to search for some information on this trail is to determine how high I was when I fell. Depending on which waterfall it was and scaling off of you or your girlfriend (assuming you’re average height people), I am estimating it was about 25-35 feet. Before I saw your blog post, I would have sworn that it was the fourth, but again I thought that the fourth was by far the highest. But it looks by the pictures that the second and third are both higher. Another detail is that on the waterfall I fell from the water came down right where the rope is hanging which seems to coincide with the fourth waterfall. I definitely remember that ice cold water pouring on my head. But I don’t remember the ledge that your girlfriend is standing on in the third. I also remember that there was a shallow pool that I fell into and that seems to coincide with the third or second. From your pictures, it looks like the pool at the bottom of the fourth is fairly deep. I also don’t remember having to go from one rope to another on the second although that could have easily been a change in that last 18 or so years.

    Anyway, I’m trying to figure out how high I really was, but can’t remember which waterfall it was. The third waterfall matches the one in my mind’s eye better, but its hard to argue with the detail of the water coming down the rope on the fourth. Whichever one it was, I think I was about 3/4 of the way up when I fell at a height of about 25-35 feet. Thanks for chronicling your hike so that I could have a chance to relive what I believe now was a defining moment of my life.

    • sunshinehawaii July 6, 2016 / 10:54 am

      Thank yo so much! I’m glad the story could bring back some memories of your Hawaii days.
      Your story sounds a bit more interesting than mine though. Nothing like a near death experience to form a good fear bond between buddies.
      I’ve only done this hike twice. The first time was with a group of 23 people. When we got to the first waterfall, 15 people stopped there, as we moved on. At the second waterfall, 2 more people stayed back, till finally it was just 6 of us. I had no desire of going all the way as this was the absolute craziest thing I had ever done back then. But I had a couple of young and reckless buddies who I felt had my back no matter what. Honestly those buddies gave me the courage to go all the way.
      Like you said though, this hike was a life altering experience for. When we got back, I realized that I had sorely underestimated my own limits. I must admit that I was not much of an outdoor person before moving the Hawaii. This hike revealed to me how awesome nature and our world is, and I’ve been on the hunt to recreate the feelings that this hike gave me ever since.
      The first waterfall was significantly shorter than the others we saw, but it also had a much deeper pool. I remember on the way back we actually jumped off the rock from the first waterfall into the pool beneath (I would never had attempted that on any of the other waterfalls).
      I do recall that with the 3rd waterfall, the rope was sopping wet as the water was dribbling down the entire cliff face that we had to climb up.
      In my mind the 4th waterfall is shorter than the 2nd and 3rd, but I could have this perception because the rope was shorter and so I didn’t feel like we had to climb up it as far (we used the log and free climbed up about half of it before being able to reach the rope). Your story is pretty terrifying to me b/c I remember being sketched out about that waterfall, both time I did this hike. I remember my arms and legs would shake from both fear and fatigue… You are very lucky to have not been hurt too bad. I specifically remember walking in that pool and thinking “wow if I fall, his water is not very deep and there are stones everywhere”. Another worry we had was that we had lost phone reception at some point, so if one of us had been hurt then the other would have had to hike out alone (and hopefully remain safe) until reception was acquired to make a call.
      It’s crazy to think people have been climbing those waterfalls for so long. I’m always amazed at the people that pioneered this hike before it had any ropes… I would imagine that over the years, the ropes have been changed a few times and potentially even moved around, in relation to their respective waterfalls. We also noticed a few areas where flash flooding and avalanches might have filled in certain sections. On two occasions we noticed ropes coming out of a pile of rubble on the ground. Perhaps your memories are more accurate than you think and the valley itself changed.
      Thanks for sharing your story and thank you for your service. I’m glad you guys made it out “safely”.

  3. Blynng15 August 28, 2016 / 3:09 pm

    We always try to find hiking spots when we go. Kalakaua in Kauai was the last one we did last year. Thank you for this adventure tip.

      • Blynng15 August 29, 2016 / 11:44 am

        I wish I would of started the travel & hiking experience a lot earlier in life. It has given me such a love of life, I can’t even begin to tell you. You are truly blessed. Be safe.

  4. Blynng15 August 28, 2016 / 3:13 pm

    Love these pics. Happy exploring.

    • sunshinehawaii August 29, 2016 / 9:39 am

      Thank you! It was the craziest hike I’ve ever done.

  5. Jonathan_drzemiecki September 18, 2016 / 8:26 am

    Just saw this blog. Great pictures! This has to be my favorite hike on the island. I have don’t that hike now 6 times. First time was in the summer of 2014 when a hurricane was hitting the big island. Most intense thing I have ever done. Stream was flooded out with land slides happening along our way. People told us we were crazy, and dam straight we were for doing it. We almost gave up at the first waterfall cause the water pressure was so intense…but we made it through, and then on to the rest. Ill never do that again or advise anyone to hike during a hurricane.

    The last time I went was in March of this year. On my way up the stream bed I saw some ropes, and noticed that they came from the falls since ive already done this hike a few times. So I coiled one of them up and carried it along with me. When I made it to the second falls sure enough it was gone, but I had brought it back. I feel like the locals cut the ropes and didn’t want anyone climbing these falls or going on this hike….But like I said earlier im a bit crazy, lol and a climber. So I free climbed that waterfall and reattached the rope. Yay! From there continued on to the rest.

    Now being months later, im not sure these ropes are still up. And do advise only advanced hikers attempt this hike. Like SUNSHINEHAWAII stated, cell phone reception is not good and if you do attempt this hike bring extra snacks. Id also say bring a flashlight, medical kit, and even a rope and some climbing gear if you have it. You never know what might happen and how long it will take for anyone to get to you.

    Great post though just wanted to share a story or two and let people know that this hike is not for everyone and should always be traveled with caution.

    • sunshinehawaii September 23, 2016 / 4:41 am

      Thanks! I appreciate it. Holy crap, I can’t imagine doing this during a hurricane. It was plenty intense on a perfect sunny day. There are only a few waterfall hikes I’m confident enough to do during heavy rains (Like Manoa, Ka’au crater, Kaaawa and Sacred), but anything that requires you to be in a narrow valley trekking along the stream bed for a prolonged period of time, NO WAY!!! Lol. Props to you guys for surviving, that’s nuts.

      Dang that’s crazy that the ropes started “falling” and disappearing. However, I must admit that every time we did the hike we were surprised that the ropes hadn’t snapped yet. They were really old and rotten. One of my buddies said that the last time he went, the first waterfall was missing its rope and that the stone that we used to climb under to get to the rest of the falls had collapsed. It’s an ever-changing scenery up there. With the heavy rain that that side gets, I’m sure the cliff walls are always eroding away (and falling down into the valley). I never think of erosion occurring at a significant rate during the course my own lifetime (for some reason I always figure it takes 100s or 1000s of years). But this is not the first place on Oahu that has changed in the short period of time that I’ve been here. A cave in shark’s cove that I used to dive recently collapsed a couple years ago after some heavy northern swells. I was totally bummed about it because I used to love taking people through it 🙁

      Those are great hiking tips Jonathan! Thanks for sharing. It’s always fun to hear from a fellow hiker who knows the struggle of finishing this ridiculous adventure. Lets always be safe and not give the state any reasons to close down more hikes!

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