20 Great Oahu Hikes


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(page 2 of 6)

Five Ridges to Tackle

 

Kuliouou Ridge Trail.

Photo: david chatsuthiphan

DIRECTIONS

Heading east on Kalanianaole Highway toward Hawaii Kai, turn left onto Kuliouou Road. Proceed until the road ends in a cul-de-sac with a narrow paved path at its end—this is the way to the trailhead. Note that parking is prohibited by signs in the cul-de-sac itself, so it’s best to look for parking along Kuliouou Street.

Kuliouou Ridge Trail

Difficulty | **
Length | 5 miles round trip
Wet/Dry | Dry

“The easiest of the ridge hikes,” notes hiking guru and author Stuart Ball. This mild trek may not be as bad as its Koolau cousins, but you may have a Koko Crater moment when you reach the stairs at the end. Plant lovers, feast your eyes on the variety of flora, which range from alien ironwoods to uluhe ferns. Reach the summit, and get the same clear east side views, less the Lanipo struggle.
 

DIRECTIONS

Heading north on Kalanianaole Highway from Hawaii Kai, pass the turnoff for the lighthouse and turn right into the Makapuu Lookout parking lot. The trailhead is located across the highway from the lot exit.

Makapuu Ridge

Difficulty | ****
Length | 5 miles one way
Wet/Dry | Dry

Forget the Makapuu lighthouse—if you want a real hiking expedition, take this coarser path from the lookout all the way to Waimanalo. It starts out steep and gets pretty narrow, but glimpses of Hawaii Kai and the Windward Coast await you along the way. Keep an eye out for the Cold War-era missile pad, and don’t forget to get a ride back to the lookout lot—this is a one-way hike.
 

DIRECTIONS

Traveling west on the H-1, take Exit 10 (Pearl City/Waimalu) onto Moanalua Road. Proceed until Moanalua ends and turn right onto Waimano Home Road. Continue on Waimano until you reach the parking area on the left and a guard shack on the right. Follow the chain link fence to the trail head.

Waimano Ridge

Difficulty | ***    
Length | 15 miles round trip     
Wet/Dry | Wet

Yes, it is really that long, but fear not: This is one of the best maintained hikes around. It’s got a wide, level pathway that was originally created by the 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps. What’s more, says Ball, “there’s something for everyone,” from explorable plantation-era drainage tunnels to tasty mountain apples and strawberry guava off the trees. Just don’t get too distracted and miss the view of Kahaluu at the ridge summit!
 

 

 

Lanipo Trail.

Photo: david chatsuthiphan

Lanipo

Difficulty | ****
Length | 7.5 miles round trip
Wet/Dry | Wet

Friends may tell you that this one is a walk in the park. Don’t believe them. Once you set out from the trailhead at Maunalani Circle, you’ll have to follow the ridge up, then down, then up, and … well, you get the picture. Don’t count on the elements to give you a break, either. The (narrow) path is muddy after rain and blistering in the sun. The payoff? Stunning views from Waikiki to Waimanalo with the Koolau range in between.

DIRECTIONS

Heading east on Waialae Avenue, take a left onto Wilhelmina Rise, continuing all the way up the ridge until the street intersects Sierra Drive. Turn right onto Sierra, then right again where it intersects Maunalani Circle. Continue on Maunalani—the road will curve to the left—until you reach the marked path to the trailhead just after a driveway with a surfboard mailbox stand. Signs prohibit parking on the opposite side of the street, but none are posted on the side you enter on.

 

DIRECTIONS

Traveling west on the H-1, take Exit 10 (Pearl City/Waimalu) onto Moanalua Road. Proceed until Moanalua ends and turn right onto Waimano Home Road. Turn left on Komo Mai Drive and follow the road until it ends. The trailhead is reachable through the metal gate at the end of the cul-de-sac. Here too, parking is not permitted in the cul-de-sac, so backtrack to the street for a space.

Manana Trail

Difficulty | ****
Length | 11.6 miles round trip     
Wet/Dry | Mixed

Build your own adventure by going only as far as you want. Whether you’ve got the gusto to make it to the summit or feel fatigued at the picnic rest site, this route above Pacific Palisades offers some of the best ridge hiking on the entire Koolau range. The most important rule? Stick to the main trail—follow a tributary path, and you may wind up in Waimano Valley.
 

 

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