O‘ahu Hike of the Month: Kuli‘ou‘ou Ridge Trail
A challenging hike with beautiful views of Kailua and Waimānalo.
Editor’s Note: We love to hike! Fortunately, O‘ahu is full of great hikes. With this web series, we bring you our favorite O‘ahu trails once a month.
TRAIL NAME: Kuli‘ou‘ou Ridge Trail
LENGTH: 4.4 miles roundtrip
LOCATION: Kuli‘ou‘ou Ridge Trail, the hike starts at the end of Kala‘au Place.
If you plan on hiking Kuli‘ou‘ou Ridge Trail, set aside a good chunk of time to do it. The hike usually takes three to four hours to complete, so plan accordingly. It’s not as easy as Mānoa Falls Trail or Waimano Falls, but there are stairs, similar to Wa‘ahila Ridge.
The rocky terrain and steep inclines make it a perfect track for trail runners, and a great workout for your legs and buns. You’ll notice that the environment changes as you hike to the top (there are three different stages). Be sure to download a plant identifier app, because you’ll see a variety of plants and pine trees along the way.
The trail is maintained by the Nā Ala Hele program and the Sierra Club, so it’s easy to navigate to the top. It does get difficult to see the turns while you’re hiking up the switchbacks. There were times when we almost walked straight into a bush.
Our least favorite section of the trail is not the stairs, but the steep incline covered in roots. We found it’s easier to climb up on the far left of the torturous hill and use the tree trunks for support (someone should install a rope). We used most of our energy climbing up that hill and had to take many breaks once we reached the stairs.
Once you reach the top, you can see Waimānalo and the Mokulua Islands off of Kailua. On the right, you can see Rabbit Island and Koko Crater. You are also rewarded with a nice strong breeze at the top. This is a good place to take pictures and eat some snacks.
It took us almost two hours to get to the lookout, because there were a lot of people on the trail. Hiking back was a lot easier with panoramic views of Hawai‘i Kai. On the day we went, we spotted two volunteers from the O‘ahu Search and Rescue organization passing out ice-cold bottles of water and granola bars. They said they plan to come every other Sunday.
- This is a long hike, so pack a lot of snacks and have plenty of water.
- Parking can be a little tricky because it’s on a residential street. Arrive before 8 a.m. to get a good spot.
- Dogs are allowed on this hike, but make sure your pup is on a leash.
- The trail is covered with pine needles and loose rocks, so wear shoes with traction.
MAP & DIRECTIONS
From Hawai‘i Kai, turn right onto Kuli‘ou‘ou Road. If you are coming from Honolulu, turn left off of Kalaniana‘ole Highway. Turn right onto Kaalua Place and you’ll see the trailhead entrance in the cul-de-sac.