The Kuliouou Ridge Trail is probably the #1 hike that I would recommend in Oahu. Known for its gorgeous views and close proximity to Honolulu, this moderate out and back does not disappoint. Keep reading for everything you need to know about hiking the Kuliouou Ridge Trail in Oahu, Hawaii.
Kuliouou Ridge Trail is conveniently located about 20 minutes from Honolulu. The best way to get there is to rent a car and find street parking in the neighborhood surrounding the trail head. Shortly after starting your hike, you will come to a fork in the trail. Proceeding left will take you to the easier Kuliouou Valley Trail, while the trail on the right will take you to Kuliouou Ridge Trail.
Hiking The Kuliouou Ridge Trail
This 6.5 kilometre out and back hike was truly one of our favorites in all of Hawaii. The entire trail is incredibly beautiful and the views from the top are out of this world. For the first few kilometres, the trail consists of switchbacks in the trees while you make your way up from the valley floor.
During this time, there are a few areas where the trees break up and you can start to see some of the unbelievable ridge lines in the area. From there, the trail gets more and more exposed as you make your way up some stairs. At this point- for all of my friends who are use to hiking in a relatively cool, dry climate like us – you are in for a rude awakening?
The 500 meters of elevation will feel like 1,000 in the Hawaiian heat and humidity. But even when you`re drenched in sweat and cursing those ridiculous bloggers that told you to do this “moderately difficult” hike; keep going. The top will be worth it, we promise.
Once you finally make it to the top, you will be rewarded with a picturesque view of the island. The summit offers a ton of space to spread out and take in the beauty of Oahu while recuperating from your journey up.
BONUS: Hiking Past the Summit
I couldn`t write this post without telling you the real reason that we decided to do this hike in the first place. David was looking around on Google Maps (as he usually does, “just for fun”) and found an incredible viewpoint about 1.5 kilometres past the top of the Kuliouou Ridge Trail. This viewpoint is also the real reason that we loved this hike so much.
I`m going to give you this disclaimer now: the trail can be dangerous. The cliffs are narrow, the area is unmaintained and don’t even think about attempting it in bad weather. But the beauty of the final destination made it 100% worth it for us. You will have to decide what is best for you.
So, if you still want to give it a go, here`s what you do. Once you get to the top, you`ll find a small path continuing on the left hand side. It weaves in and out of the forest taking you along the stunning and terrifying ridge line. You will have to use the ropes attached to the rocks to scale up and down some areas.
At the end of it all, you will come to this beautiful, secluded, spot that looks like it was naturally built to be a campsite. Our original plan was actually to camp up there, but in the end we didn`t have enough time. Looking back though, we were glad we didn`t have 40 pound packs on our backs while navigating this narrow ridge. The wind can also pick up quickly so if you would like to camp, make sure to stake your tent down well!
Weather & Safety
Weather plays a crucial role in the safety of many trails in Hawaii and I cannot stress that enough! Are the winds howling? Is it pouring rain? Wait it out. Especially if you are deciding to hike past the top. Hiking rule #1: feel confident in what you are doing and don`t push yourself past that point. It`s just not worth it.