Few trails on Oahu are as well maintained with such stunning summit views as the Kuliouou Ridge Trail. It begins in Hawaii Kai at the end of Kalaau Place, and ascends roughly 1,700 feet over 2.5 miles for a 5-mile round-trip hike. While rated as medium-level difficulty, it is fairly strenuous and should only be attempted by able-bodied individuals and dogs.
Early on in the hike is a divergence between the ridge trail and the valley trail. Follow signs for the ridge trail to the right for the hike to the summit. The ridge trail ascends with many switchbacks before arriving at roughly the halfway point, where there are picnic tables.
Although there are many possible shortcuts to avoid switchbacks on the trail, be sure to stay on the marked path. Leaving the trail and taking shortcuts leads to overall trail erosion.
The trail is often muddy and there can be showers towards the summit. In the steepest areas near the top of the climb there are built-in stairs to climb. This area can be slick. It’s a good idea to bring hiking poles to help avoid any spills.
At the top of the mountain is an end-of-trail sign. Be careful not to go any further because there is a dangerous cliff and high winds. Views from the end of trail include Waimanalo and Hawaii Kai. Bring a camera to capture the scenic beauty.
As with any hike, be sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, a cell phone, and tell at least one person where you are going. You might also consider bringing a map, insect repellent and a light rain jacket.
There is no designated parking area for this hike, so visitors must find street parking. It’s a popular trail, so arrive early to find a spot.
To get to the trail, take H1 East then continue on HI 72 towards Waimanalo. Turn left on Kuliouou Rd., follow it up the hill and turn right on Kalaau St. The trail starts at the end of the road.
Photos and text by Julie Yaste