Time: 2.5-4 HOURS
Distance: 5 MILES
Elevation Gain: 1500 FEET
Foot Traffic: LOW
Challenges: Getting Parking Pass, Potentially Muddy and Slippery
Sights: Koko Head, Diamond Head, Honolulu, Windward Side
What to Bring: Water (>2L), Shoes with good grip, Sunscreen, Snack
Another beautiful Hawaii Kai ridge hike, this trail takes you from a gorgeous, luxury neighborhood all the way to the Ko'olau Summit Trail (KST), giving you views of both sides of the island. While it has its challenges you will be rewarded with an incredible perspective on a very secluded ridge.
Hawaii Loa Ridge is another hike which I am calling the "Triple Crown of Hawaii Kai Ridge Hikes," three accessible, well-maintained, but still challenging hikes that take you all the way to the KST from Hawaii Kai and give you beautiful views of both sides of the island. I recently conquered one of the other three, Wiliwilinui Ridge, and have done the third Kui'ou'ou Ridge several times. It was finally time to complete the trifecta.
A sketch of the hike. An out and back from the luxury Hawaii Kai neighborhood to the KST. Simple on paper, but this hike is definitely a leg burner.
But the most difficult part of this hike is actually getting access to it. It is located in a private neighborhood on Pu'uikena Drive. They allow public access, but they only give out 10 parking passes at a time, so you either have to get their early (although they won't let you start before sunrise) or get lucky. Today, I was lucky as there was only one other group hiking. This picture is the gate within the neighborhood that leads to the trailhead. I've never considered any hike "Boojee," but this one certainly comes close.
Alright, it's hiking time!
The trail opens up pretty quickly giving you some great views of the Ko'olau Range. Our destination is up there somewhere...
And if you look around, you can catch glimpses of some other prominent landmarks. To the right, you can see Koko Head Crater, peaking over the adjacent ridge.
Initially, the trail alternates between the trees and open ridge. Now we're in the shade...
And now we're not. Man, it looks like we haven't made any progress!
I only noticed one "fork" during the entire hike and that was here. It's not even a fork at all, because the paths reconnect only a few hundred yards later. Recommend going left, however, so you don't have to go uphill ;)
Wait there's stairs and they're going down?! That was one of the interesting features of this hike. The ridge does a lot of up and down before that final ascent.
Oh well, nothing you can really do except push forward... and of course take in the scenery.
Speaking of that final ascent, here we are. The last push is almost exclusively up these stairs. This is definitely a cardio climb.
I found this section of the trail quite interesting. It was this crevasse in the ridge created by erosion that you had to squeeze your way through. Pretty unique.
We're getting close! Here Diamond Head Crater and Honolulu are coming into view.
Just a few more steps!
I think we're almost there...
We made it! It was a bit cloudy at the summit, but you could still see all the good windward sights. That left ridge is the back side of Three Peaks, one of my favorite hikes. You can also see the very photogenic Mokulua Islands or "Mokes" just off the famous Lanikai Beach.
Looking back towards the southern part of the island, again you can see Koko Head Crater. That adjacent ridge is Kulepamoa Ridge. I've heard/read people often connect that with Hawaii Loa to turn it into a loop hike. From what I've read, Kulepamoa is definitely a step up in difficulty from this hike.
As is my new summit tradition, I took the opportunity to fly the drone. While it was clear enough for views, it was still cloudy, so I wasn't able to get too many great shots. This picture does show how small the summit in comparison to the large and beautiful ridges surrounding it.
As the afternoon sun began to illuminate the ocean behind Waikiki, I decided it was time to start my return trip. What a great way to start off my holiday weekend, knocking another hike off my bucket list. Which hike should I do next?
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 ridge