O‘ahu Hike We Like: Kalāwahine Trail
A stunning view doesn’t always require a killer climb.
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.
Photos: Savannah L. Murray
Trail Name: Kalāwahine Trail
Length: 2.5 miles roundtrip
Hiking can be dangerous, and not every trail is a good idea for every person. Keep your personal fitness and skill level in mind, and always take proper precautions when venturing off road. Heed “no trespassing” and other warning signs.
Kalāwahine Trail is close to my and my family’s hearts’—it was my grandpa’s favorite trail-running hike when he would come to visit us—and we love going up together, especially when my aunties visit. It’s dog-friendly but there are pigs, so if your dogs are anything like mine (crazy barking chasers of anything and everything), you’d do best to keep them on a leash. This hike is also versatile and connects to many other trails on Tantalus, meaning you can stay on Kalāwahine when you’ve got the kiddos, or power up along other more challenging trails when you need a workout.
The trail starts along the top of Tantalus, curving past moss- and fern-covered rocks and roots (which get very slippery when it’s been raining). When you reach the intersection of Kalāwahine and Pauoa Flats trail, wooden planks make the trek easier. After that it’s a quick stroll through a swath of bamboo up a slight incline, and in no time at all you’re at the top.
This hike is for those who want the view without the burn, or trail-runners who don’t like hills. It stays flat the whole way through. Because it’s so lush at the top of Tantalus, even on a blazing hot day there’s so much tree cover that you don’t get too hot or sunburned. Birds chirp along the way, and you can peek out through the trees, seeing all the way to the Wai‘anae Range.
Kalāwahine Trail proves you don’t always have to exchange sweat and tears for an exceptional view. From the summit you can see down into Nu‘uanu, along the Pali Highway and all the way into Kailua. Sit and enjoy the breeze whistling through the ‘ōhi‘a lehua and take a rest on the bench while you snap some panoramic pics before heading back down for a return trip that’s even easier than the journey up.
This hike is no fun when it’s too muddy, so plan for a day when it’s not raining and preferably hasn’t been for a while.
Bring plenty of water, bug spray and snacks to enjoy at the top.
MAP & DIRECTIONS