Time: 3-4 HOURS
Distance: 4.5 MILES
Elevation Gain: 1400 FEET
Foot Traffic: MODERATE
Challenges: Some steep uphills, Potentially muddy ridges
Sights: Windward Side, Honolulu, Diamond Head
What to Bring: Water (>2L), Snack/Lunch, Sunscreen
This Hawaii Kai hike is a great intro ridge hike that offers many upsides of Hawaii ridge hiking without the risks (narrow trails, difficult and slippery ascents). The hike begins along a dirt path in the forest that eventually leads to the ridge. The ridge starts with numerous stairs that allow you to gain elevation quick, giving you expansive views of Honolulu. This ridge contains a few steeper climbs, and may require the use of some ropes, but with a little fortitude, you will reach the summit, where you will be rewarded with beautiful views of both sides of the island.
Well yesterday was an interesting day in Hawaii. During my Ma'akua Ridge hike, the entire island of Oahu got a text that a ballistic missile was inbound to Hawaii. The alert turned out to be a false alarm, but it really made for an eventful day. However, that scare did not at all deter me from enjoying my weekend, so on Sunday my friend Danielle and I decided to hit the trails. Our original plan had been to hike Hawaii Loa Ridge, one of, what I call the "Hawaii Kai Triple Crown" of Ridge hikes (the other one two being Wiliwilinui and Kuli'ou'ou). Unfortunately, Hawaii Loa requires a parking pass, and they only have ten available, so our 830 start was not quite early enough to secure a spot. Instead, we went with the nearby Wiliwilinui Ridge.
A shot of the hike. Nothing complicated about it. It's a straight shot from a neighborhood in Hawaii Kai all the way to the KST (Ko'olau Summit Trail).
The trailhead is located at the end of Okoa St. To get here, you must go by a guard shack to obtain a parking pass for your dash. I'm sure they do run out of passes, but it's not as restrictive as Hawaii Loa. You can park in this dirt parking lot. If it fills up, you will be forced to park down the street a little ways, which requires hiking up a relatively steep road for a quarter mile. Oh well more of a workout I suppose!
The hike starts along this shaded dirt path. No sunscreen necessary just yet.
If you pay attention, you may get glimpses of the neighboring ridges and even Honolulu through the trees.
After 30-40 minutes, you will reach this sign which marks the beginning of the ridge portion of this hike. We begin with stairs...
But the stairs mean you gain elevation quicker and thus get to the views sooner. A common sign. Not that crazy of a ridge hike, but there's danger in every hike in Hawaii.
Looking towards the the southern point of the island. In the left of the photo, you can barely see Koko Crater peaking over the ridge.
And the higher and higher you climb, the better the views get. Diamond Head, Honolulu and several Ko'olau ridges all in one view.
But the stairs are no joke. For some reason, I always perceived Wiliwilinui as a very chill hike. These stairs proved otherwise...
And there's even ropes to help you through some of the steep sections. This portion is definitely the trickiest part of the hike and could be much more difficult if it has been raining.
The final push!
And of course when we finally reach the peak... clouds! This is a very common issue any time you hike up to the KST. Let's wait and see if it clears.
And after a few minutes, the clouds (partly) cleared, to reveal the Windward side of Oahu. Time to play with the drone to get some better views. Here you can see the partially shaded Three Peaks, my favorite Windward hike on the island.
And here's a shot of the summit itself. As you can see it's not very big. There were around 15 people up there and it was pretty crowded.
And a final shot looking back at the Leeward Side and what we just accomplished. While this wasn't the hike we had planned, it's hard to complain when you start your day looking at a view like this. Much mahalo Wiliwilinui!
Check out my video of Hawaii Loa, Wiliwilinui and Kuli'ou'ou ridge!
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Also Check Out:
- Exploration Hawaii's post about this hike