Be prepared for more colors of green than you’ve ever seen before in the area surrounding Kauai’s central Mt. Waialeale—it’s one of the wettest places on planet Earth, receiving more than 450 inches of rainfall each year. It’s dominating sheer green 5,066 cliff wall has also been called the Wall of Tears, for the many waterfalls that fill its crevices and stream down its face during frequent rains. And, if the setting looks familiar, that could be because it starred as the backdrop for opening scenes of the original 1992 Jurassic Park movie. To get to the base of Waialeale, and to the the Wailua River, you’ll have to take a 4x4 down the bumpy Wailua Forestry Management Road and then trek in. Alternatively, several helicopter tours take you much closer to its cliff face—and its waterfalls—than you could easily get to on a hike.
There’s only one company currently permitted to take groups of trekkers back in along the bumpy Wailua Forestry Management access road—Aloha Kauai Tours—and they only offer short day hikes into the surrounding valley. If you don’t have 4-wheel drive—and many rental cars don’t—this might be your only option for trekking access other than hiking the more than 10 miles down the road to the trailhead. To get to the actual mountain base, it’s another several miles through thick jungle, which is easily bypassed in a helicopter tour.