Time: 5-6 HOURS
Distance: 7 MILES
Elevation Gain: 2000 FEET
Foot Traffic: LOW
Challenges: Overgrown, Some muddy spots
Sights: Honolulu, Diamond Head, Windward Side
What to Bring: Water (>1L), Snacks, Long pants
A rollercoaster of a hike, this ridge takes you from a neighborhood near Honolulu all the way to the Ko'olau Summit Trail (KST). It requires a lot of up and down, bushwacking, and some considerable elevation gain, but once you reach the summit, you will get an amazing view of the windward and leeward sides of the island. A classic Oahu ridge hike with a lot to offer.
Lanipo Trail (AKA Mau'umae) is a hike that's been on my to do list for some time. I learned about it from my favorite hiking website, Unreal Hawaii a while back, but somehow I had never made the attempt. I finally found a clear sky day to make the effort up this ridge. It ended up being a spectacular and memorable day to hike.
A typical Ko'olau Finger Ridge, the hike begins in a neighborhood as you follow the ridge all the way to the KST. Not shown in this image, is the amount of up and down this ridge contains. The workout makes it even more rewarding when you reach the top!
The trailhead is located on Maunalani Circle way up in an area called Mauna Lani Heights, above Kaimuki. The trek up is an adventure itself, as you are required to drive up some steep and narrow residential roads. It felt a lot like west coast city driving. Eventually, you will reach a street that looks like this. When I went, there was some construction going on, so it was a little difficult to figure out where to park. I would just adhere to the no parking signs and find a spot off the side of the road.
The trailhead isn't super obvious. It begins on the right side of the fence line from the above picture. This sign looks rather uninviting, but this is a sanctioned trail and it begins to the right of this fence.
A nice little stroll in the trees to begin...
And then Boom! You get hit with this gorgeous ridgeline, as well as a little preview of what's to come. Those peaks in the distance mark the KST, our destination for the day. Hope you're ready for a workout!
But if you're not quite ready there is this convenient bench placed about 20 minutes from the start. Honolulu looks so beautiful in this soft morning light.
I was a big fan of this ridge. Sure it had its ups and downs that required some energy.
But it was very open, giving you several awesome views like this. That there on the left is the famous Diamond Head Crater, which is looking very green these days with the heavy rainfall we've been seeing recently.
Another perk of that rainfall, rainbows! I saw a small pocket of rain on the adjacent ridge and knew it would only be a matter of time before a rainbow would appear. No matter how many times I see them, I am amazed every time. Not to mention this was a double! (Cue double rainbow guy).
This hike isn't all views and rainbows, there are some challenges along the way. Shortly after a flat lookout where we saw the rainbow, the trail gets much more overgrown. I was very happy I decided to wear long pants for this journey.
Progress! I really loved the look of this tree, sticking high above the ridgeline. I always wonder how nature creates those beautiful anomalies.
The trail has some steep sections, which require some upper body. Luckily, there are some well placed ropes to assist you.
This ridge gives you a great view of some of the other hikes in the area. Once you are high enough and you look left, you can see the grassy Ka'au Crater, one of my favorite hikes on the island.
And of course, the higher you get, the better the view gets.
We are getting close! The peaks still look clear, maybe we will actually get a view up there.
That last push.
And we're here! The view was stunning, completely cloudless, a rare sight up in the Ko'olaus. Here we are looking left towards K-Bay. Those peaks to the left are Konahuanui 1 and 2 (K1 and K2), the two highest peaks in the Ko'olau Range. Fun fact, Konahuanui actually means "large testicles," as I recently discovered. Gotta love how these mountains get their names.
Looking straight out, we get a shot of Three Peaks and the beautiful town of Kailua.
And right we have the southbound KST which if you took from here you could actually reach Wiliwilinui Ridge, another favorite of mine.
And looking back at Honolulu and today's accomplishment.
It took me a long time to finally tackle this hike, but let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Ridge hiking to the KST with awesome views. What's next Oahu?
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Also Check Out:
- Unreal Hawaii's write up of this hike
- On Walkabout's post about Lanipo