O‘ahu Hike of the Month: Olomana Trail
A challenging hike near Kailua with incomparable views of the windward side.
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: Lorin Eleni Gill
TRAIL NAME: Olomana Trail
LENGTH: 4.5 miles roundtrip
WHERE: 770 Auloa Road, Kailua
Hiking can be dangerous, and this trail especially. There have been three deaths in the past four years, and all were experienced hikers attempting to reach the third peak. We recommend sticking to the first peak. Make sure you’re comfortable with heights and steep rope-assisted rock climbing. Hikers must be realistic about their physical and mental capabilities if they plan to pursue all three peaks.
Think of Olomana Trail as the older and more experienced big brother of the Maunawili Falls Trail, which is just down the road. Olomana, which literally translates to “divided” or “forked” hill, includes three peaks. We opted to hike to the first peak. Most of the trail is uphill and you’ll get a great cardio workout. It begins through a forest of ferns, lofty ironwood trees and large boulders. The trail is well maintained but can get very muddy, so avoid hiking on rainy days.
As you near the top, it becomes more demanding and some parts of the trail have a steep drop-off. Even experienced trekkers may find it difficult. Ropes are available to keep you steady on slippery rock formations. Be prepared to hoist your own weight.
The most challenging rock face appears in the final quarter of the hike. A thick rope will guide you up the 16-foot wall. An incomparable view awaits at the top.
Maybe it’s the adrenaline from the rock climbing, but, by the time we reached the top of the first peak, the view was even more spectacular than we expected. The strong wind cools you down, but your heart keeps pounding as you soak in the 360-degree view that includes the Ko‘olau Range, Kailua Bay and Waimānalo. On a clear day, you can see Nā Mokulua, or “The Mokes.” The second and third peaks, named Paku‘i and Ahiki, beckon with Waimanālo as their backdrop, but the view from the first is more than satisfying enough.
MAP & DIRECTIONS
Park in the Maunawili neighborhood just outside the golf course entrance on Auloa Road. There’s usually street parking near the intersection. Watch out for tow-away zones, and be respectful of the neighborhood.
Once you’ve parked, walk down the road through Luana Hills until it turns into the Royal Hawaiian Golf Club. Pass the guard shack and, after about half a mile, you’ll see the white sign for Olomana Trail on the left.
Be real with yourself about your physical and mental capabilities.
Those afraid of heights should not attempt this hike.
Wear shoes with good traction, support and grip.
Hydrate and bring more water than you think you’ll need.
Stick to the marked trail.
Make sure you have the upper body strength to pull yourself up and down difficult rock formations.
There are no public bathrooms.
Do not bring dogs or children under the age of 10 on this hike.