Mount Olympus via Kolowalu Trail

February 4, 2017

Difficulty: INTERMEDIATE

Time: 3-5 HOURS

Distance: 5 MILES

Elevation Gain: 2000 FEET

Foot Traffic: LOW

Challenges: Narrow ridges, step uphills, muddy, exposed ridge 

Sights: Honolulu, Diamond Head, Ka'au Crater, K-Bay, The Mokes, Three Peaks, K1/K2, Mount Ka'ala

Stuff to Bring: Water, Snacks, Shoes with good grip, Sunscreen

 

This intermediate hike near Honolulu offers some exciting ridge hiking as well as some awesome views. The trail has some technical challenges, a few steep climbs and possibly some mud to contend, but the real difficulty with this hike is physical. The long slow uphill over several miles will really give your legs a good workout. However, once you reach the summit, you will be greeted with some of the best views in all of Oahu. On a clear day, you can see both the Windward and Leeward sides of the island and may even be able to see some of the West Side. For those that love hiking Oahu's ridges, this is one you don't want to miss.

 

This first time I did this hike and posted about it was back in February 2017, a cloudy day where the beautiful views of this hike were impeded. I decided to revisit this hike in July, to show what this hike has to offer on a clear day. It really is a beauty.

 

 Here's a Google Earth image of the trail. At almost 2500 Feet, Mount Olympus also known as (Awaawaloa), is the 6th highest peak in the Ko'olau Mountain Range. Those two peaks to the left are K1 and K2, the two highest peaks in the range.

 

The hike starts at the end of Alani Dr. where this bend in the road occurs. Straight ahead in this picture, between the parking stall and the start of the large bush, is the entrance to a road that will lead you to the start of the Kolowalu trail. Street parking should be relatively available in this area.

 

 A closer view of said road.

 

 The road itself is not unpleasant, with some nice plants and vegetation lining the sides.

 

You will soon enter this forest.

 

Followed by the first fork in the road. Take a RIGHT to continue to the Kolowalu Trail.

 

 You will then arrive at another trail sign. This signifies the start of the long, slow uphill that makes this hike so challenging. It rarely levels off until you actually reach the summit. No workout required the day you conquer this hike.

 

 And up and up we go. One foot in front of the other.

 

 But soon, you will reach some openings in the trees that provide some amazing views of Honolulu. Here's a shot of me contemplating the meaning of life... or what I'm going to eat after this hike has concluded.

 

 As you continue the climb, you will eventually reach another fork in the road. As per usual Hawaii hiking, this end of trail sign signifies the correct path to Mount Olympus.

 

 It definitely gets a little steeper and muddier in this section, but luckily there are some ropes to help you out.

 

 Soon after that turn, you will reach the ridge where the views start to get really impressive.

 

 Looking back, you can still see Honolulu, but now Diamond Head Crater has come into view.

 

It was such a clear day, I could even see down the west side of the island to some of the Waianae Mountain Range. That flat peak in the top right of the photo is actually Mount Ka'ala, the highest peak on Oahu. 

 

 We've made some progress, but the toughest parts are yet to come. The summit is that little hump at the top right of the photo. If you look closely, you can see people at various points along the ridge.

 

 Here's a shot of the most difficult climb of the hike. It's a pretty steep climb up what can be a very muddy portion of the ridge.

 

 But in reality, it's nothing too crazy if you've done any challenging Hawaii ridge hikes. There's some solid ropes to help you if the incline proves a bit difficult.

 

 Almost at the summit!. The Windward side now comes into view.

 

 And we're here! I'm not sure if there's a specific point that is the official summit, so you can stop wherever feels right to soak in the views. This is a shot of Ka'au Crater, one of the most diverse hikes on the island. You can actually hike from Ka'au to Olympus if you feel like hiking on an unmarked and overgrown ridge. An adventure for a different day.

 

 Here's a shot of my home turf, the Windward Side. Here, you can see the major landmarks such as Three Peaks, The Mokes, and K-Bay.

 

And one final picture of the picturesque leeward side and the ridge we just hiked. Olympus has been conquered. What's next? 

 

Check out my video of my first time hiking to Olympus!

Have you taken the trek up Olympus? Share your story below!

 

Also Check Out:

     - Unreal Hawaii's story about hiking Olympus

     - Exploration Hawaii's experience with this hike

     - Not So Good Hiker's video about this trek

 

 

 

 

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