Horseback ride to Silver Falls
Waterfalls are the perfect island destination, though many are not easily reached and the journey can be difficult. Imagine the ease of a horseback ride to a waterfall, with picnics packed and the "clip clop" sound of the horse beneath you serving up a deliberately slow pace that brings you into the feeling of "island time". A 2 hour waterfall ride gets you a sweet horseback experience with a guide pointing the way as you explore an expansive ranch with fresh water streams, tropical flowers, forests full of ferns, and lots of scenic views. The ride culminates in a picnic lunch at Silver Falls and some swim and picture time in the mountain stream pool below.
At a Glance:
Highlights: Getting to ride to a picture perfect waterfall on horseback with lush tropical gardens, fern forests and green mountains all around you.
Activity level: Moderate, but no experience necessary.
Location: Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii (Kalihiwai)
Options: Join a scheduled trail ride or arrange a private tour for your group.
Hazards!: You are offered the option of a helmet, and mounting and dismounting of horses is done from wooden stairs making it easier on horse and rider.
Reservations: Required, book online or over the phone. They will ask about weight and experience level so they can pick an appropriate horse for you.
Cost: $ 119 per person plus tax
On Kauai's North Shore near the town of Kilauea the Silver Falls Ranch gets you fun horseback access to the lands at the base of the lush green Makaleha Mountains.
Traveling inland up the Kalihiwai Ridge gets you closer to the central mountains and the forest and streams they support while losing the crowds and gaining the peace and quiet of the country.
From the moment you arrive at Silver Falls it is obvious that you are amongst "animal lovers" with roosters and cats prowling the rafters and a near "petting zoo" menagerie of pigs, poultry, and dogs leisurely walking about the barn outside the registration office and check in. They also boast "Happy horses" on their brochures, and from the look of their facilities and location you certainly would be a happy horse here.
Trail rides begin at the stables and run twice a day with Silver Falls specializing in groups of smaller size. Only 8 to 12 participants per tour is a great guide to rider ratio, giving you a good amount of space amongst the group to stretch out your horse and enjoy the view. There are stair-stepped mounting platforms in place to make it easier on guest and horse during the start and end to your ride. This makes the ride so much less stressful for horse and rider. After a brief ride about in the large corral as you get know your horse while gaining the confidence to steer and stop, you are led off into the ranch as a caravan.
The trail ride leads you out along a farm road that crosses a stream, then into a wide forest trail. The views of the mountains grow abundant as you ride along. All signs of modern civilization slip away and your sensations come alive. The sound of the horses, the wind, and the rhythm of the horse movement get you out of the everyday and into the moment. The horses here are happy and know the trail well, your main task is to sit back and enjoy the ride while watching for the occasional low hanging branches.
At the waterfall:
A small corral for your horses sits adjacent to the picnic hale (house) that has benches and a picturesque view of the falls and mountain scenery. A pathway with stairs leads to the pool below the falls. Be aware of the slippery wet rocks at pools edge and slide into the water as gracefully as possible. The water falls over lava rock that can be sat upon for some great picture opportunities. The pool is not very deep or large, just the perfect size to refresh and delight.
Be prepared for rain, usually there are always some passing rain showers in the areas near the mountains, yet the low elevation tropical climate makes it warm enough to enjoy the rain often without the need for jacket. If planning to take pictures, please make sure your device has a strap to tether it to you. Dropping a camera or phone from horseback height is certain death for digitals, and hard to retrieve from 6 feet up in the air.
HI-route 56 aka Kuhio Highway heading out of Kilauea toward Princeville, approximately 0.4 miles past "24 mile" marker and look for turn on left onto Kalihiwai Ridge (sign is on stone wall). Follow Kalihiwai Ridge Road for 2.2 miles looking for Kamookoa Road on left. Turn left on Kamookoa Road and follow to the end, looking for Silver Falls Ranch entrance.
HI-route 56 aka Kuhio Highway heading out of Princeville past the heliport and across the bridge turn right at the top of the hill onto Kalihiwai Ridge. (sign is on stone wall). Follow Kalihiwai Ridge Road for 2.2 miles looking for Kamookoa Road on left. Turn left on Kamookoa Road and follow to the end, looking for Silver Falls Ranch entrance.