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Pali Notches


"There is no joy in living your whole life on the ground."

Updated: December 12, 2015

Location: Pali Notches is located above Pali Lookout on the right side. The trail is not so obvious as there are mutiple trails leading up the mountain. However, the trail closer to the brick walls is the trail to take.

Type: Ridge hike

Hike Difficulty: Intermediate

Total Time: 1 to 2 hours



Things to Consider

  • Kid friendly: no
  • Pet Friendly: no
  • Not for the faint of heart. The ridge line is very skinny up by the notches. The width is similar to Pu'u Manamana.
  • Pali winds are really strong and could blow you off the ridge to your death. Always keep both feet planted on the ground at all times for balance.
  • Going down the second notch is a lot sketchier than the first notch. Do not attempt if you don't have proper rope and rock climbing experience.
  • After you go up through the forest, the trail is pretty straight forward as you go up the ridge line.

Your hiking backpack

  • Jacket
  • Gloves
  • 2 Liters of water
  • Snacks
  • GoPro/Camera (Lots of beautiful scenery on this hike)


Take Pali Highway to the Pali Lookout. Park in the designated parking lot. Parking is free for Hawaii residents, but you need to pay the meter if you are visiting or on vacation. (P.S. I don't think the security guy checks anyways.) Before heading to the lookout, look to the right side. You will see multiple trails going up the mountain. The last ones lead you up to the notches. The ones that are closest to the brick wall. There are two notches and a chimney. Most people only go to the first notch, more advanced hikers go to the second notch, and the fearless go up the chimney. Past the chimney leads you to the K1 (the highest point in the Koolau Mountain Range).

Our Journey

A bunch of us decided to head up to the infamous Pali Notches. It took a while before I finally convinced people to come with me to this hike. This hike is not for the faint of heart, but I assured them that it wasn't too difficult and the views were amazing. We parked at the Pali Lookout parking lot and headed up the trail on the right. Going up through the forest is the only part where you will break a sweat. After you get up to the ridge, the Pali winds will keep you cool, you might even get cold if you don't keep moving. Some people from our group stayed at the first notch and couldn't continue because of their fear of heights. It definitely is an experience worth doing and you get that adrenaline rush. Going down the second notch, it's kinda hard to see the foot holds in the rock, so take your time and have somebody guide you down if possible. We stopped at the chimney. Heading to K1 would be for another day.





























From Pali Lookout you can see the dirt path on the right. This is the start of the hike.





























The dirt can be slippery sometimes especially after a heavy rain. It is steep.





























The first view after you get out of the forest. Pali Puka hike in the distance. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to climb up through the forest to get out into the clearing.





























I had to get a closer view!





























What lies ahead. Continuing up to the first notch.





























Into some brush again.





























Some minor rock climbing here. It only gets worse!






















Out into the clearning. A thousand foot drop on the right.





























On top the first notch looking at the second notch.






















The second notch is a lot more sketchier than the first one.






















In between the notches!






















Look for step holds and take your time going down.





























The iconic shot that everybody takes here.

Looking back at the first notch from the second one!






















The view is amazing, but the trail only gets crazier from this point.





























Heading up to the chimney! The trail is super narrow.





























The infamous chimney in the distance!

This is a small rock formation that I decided to climb.





























What a cool view from up there.





























You contour around the right side to head to the chimney.





























We didn't attempt climbing it this time because it was too windy.

A final group photo at the notch before heading back down.

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