O‘ahu Hike of the Month: Kuliʻouʻou Ridge Trail
Take in views of east Oʻahu at the top of this ridgeline trail.
Editor’s Note: We love hiking! Fortunately, O‘ahu is full of great hikes. In this web series, we bring you our favorite O‘ahu trails once a month.
Photos: Matt Tuohy
TRAIL NAME: Kuliʻouʻou Ridge Trail
LENGTH: 2.5 miles one way
WHERE: The end of cul-de-sac at Kalaʻau Place in Kuliʻouʻou
Kuliʻouʻou Ridge Trail is a 5-mile trail the climbs along the ridge line of Kuliʻouʻou Valley. The trail dips into the valley, then meanders up and up, each clearing giving you a more fantastic view of east Oʻahu.
As you hike up the switchbacks you’ll come across ironwood, Norfolk pine, guava and more.
This is a well-kept and frequently hiked trail. We saw families, groups of friends, friendly dogs and uber athletes—some people trail-run this hike. Kuliʻouʻou Ridge Trail definitely works you out, even if you aren’t racing your way to the top.
Nearly two-thirds of the way into the hike, relief comes in the form of two covered picnic tables. It’s a great opportunity for a breather. The rest of the hike is a real butt burner.
The tail end of the hike is climbing up stairs. They were put in place by the Sierra Club to prevent erosion. Once you see them know that you are almost to the top. Don’t forget to look up every once in a while to check out the great views!
The views! Knees weak, arms are heavy—but you’re pau. (Technically you’re halfway, as you have to hike back down, but these vistas are worth it.) Your reward for trekking 2.5 miles to the top of Kuliʻouʻou Ridge Trail is unfettered views of Oʻahu. To your left, you can see the Mokes peeking up in Kailua Bay and Waimānalo. Turn to your right and you’ll be treated to emerald crags of the Ko‘olau summit, Mānana Island (aka Rabbit Island), Koko Crater and even Diamond Head.
Plus, there’s a stiff breeze, so after you’ve taken the views in, and taken several selfies, it’s a great place to sit down and rest. Bring some snacks with you for this hike, and eat them here; you’ll want to replenish your energy for the walk back.
Map & Directions
Heading east on Kalanianaʻole Highway turn left on Kuliʻouʻou Road, then right on Kalaʻau Place. Park in the neighborhood on Kalaʻau Place, but be courteous of the residents in the area. The trailhead entrance is in the cul-de-sac. Follow signs for the ridge trail, not the valley hike.
Depending on your pace, and how many photos you take at the top, plan to spend four to five hours on this 5-mile trail.
Definitely bring water and snacks, and wear sunscreen!
Dogs are allowed on this trail, but make sure your pup can handle, and keep him or her on a leash.