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This page explains how my ratings and description of each hike work in order to help you figure out if it is a hike you may want to try.


A combination of the physical and technical challenges involved with the hike. The physical portion takes into account aspects like distance and elevation gain. The technical portion takes into account challenges like rock scrambles, narrow ridges, and uneven surfaces. DO NOT TAKE THESE DIFFICULTIES AS GOSPEL. They are simply my opinion on relative difficulty based on the different hikes I've done on the island.

  • BEGINNER- These are the simplest hikes on this site, good for most ages and abilities. While you might work up a sweat and there may even be a few minor challenges, most individuals should be able to complete these hikes without too much trouble.

  • BEGINNER-INTERMEDIATEWhether you find these hikes easy or somewhat challenging will depend upon your skill and fitness level. Each of these hikes will have some sort of challenge, whether it is physical or technical, that will preclude some individuals from attempting. However, these hikes are still manageable for most people to attempt.

  • INTERMEDIATE- These hikes will give almost any individual a little bit of difficulty, either physically or technically. They may be physically challenging enough to get you winded or make you sore the next day. They may have technical challenges such as rock scrambles, difficult footing, or narrow ridges. However, those with some skill, fitness, and perseverance should be able to make it through these hikes.

  • INTERMEDIATE-ADVANCED- The difficulty of these hikes have reached a point where many should not consider attempting them. They could be physically challenging enough that it requires a solid level of fitness to complete. They could have tricky technical challenges, such as difficult rock scrambles, steep slopes, or narrow ridges that could result in serious injury if you don't know what you're doing.  

  • ADVANCEDFor experienced hikers only. Your body will hurt after you are done with these hikes. They will challenge you physically, technically, or both as you tackle trails most wouldn't even consider. Narrow ridges, tough rock scrambles, and overgrown trails are commonplace. However, the views and sense of accomplishment you will have once you are finished will make it all worth it.

  • EXTREME - These hikes get a category of their own. These are the unmarked, unsanctioned hikes with numerous physical and technical challenges. Attempting these hikes means you are willing to risk serious injury or death. You will get to see a side of Hawaii hiking that is only experienced by a small group of brave individuals.

Time, Distance, Elevation 

I love numbers, so these stats should satisfy any other number lovers out there. I won't claim these numbers are 100% accurate, but I try my best to correlate between different sources to make them as accurate as I can. With regards to the time, this can vary significantly from person to person, so this is my best guess of how long the hike would take most people who are fit enough to attempt the hike.

Foot Traffic 

The number of people you will encounter throughout your hike.

  • VERY LOW - you may see another person on this hike, but it is likely you will be alone. These are the most secluded hikes on the island.

  • LOW - you will pass groups of people periodically, but for the most part, you will get to enjoy the trail in peace.

  • MODERATE - the groups you pass will become more frequent, but if you want some solitude, you can adjust your hiking speed accordingly 

  • HIGH - you will be surrounded by groups the majority of the hike. It will be very difficult to find solitude.

  • VERY HIGH - there is no escape from the crowds. These are the most touristy hikes.


This is the list of obstacles/technical challenges you will encounter during your hike. I have listed some of the most common ones below with an explanation:

  • Shadeless- there is no shelter from the brutal Hawaii Sun. Sunscreen is necessary.

  • Muddy- self explanatory. Don't wear white shoes.

  • Overgrown- you will be trekking through thick brush/trees AKA "bushwacking." Long pants/sleeves are highly recommended

  • Steep Inclines- these require some leg strength/balance to ascend and descend. If you don't go slowly and carefully, injury is a possibility

  • Narrow Ridges- the amazing ridges of Hawaii hiking do come with a danger in that they can be extremely narrow (sometimes about a foot wide!). Those with a fear of heights will not enjoy these hikes.

  • Rock Scramble- the use of your upper body is required in order to get over some smaller rock formations to ascend/descend. While rock scrambling will make you sweat and creates a risk, it is not inherently as dangerous as some hikes that require free climbing.

  • Free Climb- this is typically the most dangerous aspect of Hawaii hikes. You will be climbing up steep rock formations, consciously thinking about where to place your feet and hands for each step. Many times, these sections have ropes laid down by other hikers, but you should never trust them with your full body weight.


These are the exciting things to see/look for along the trail. Some of these are iconic landmarks, visual from many parts of the island such as Diamond Head, Koko Head, K-Bay, Ko'olau Mountain Range, etc. However, some of the sights are more specific to the hike itself including things like pillboxes, blowholes, and waterfalls.

What to Bring 

This is a list of things I brought or wish I had brought after doing a hike. Everybody is different in terms of what their body needs, but I always recommend packing too much rather than packing too little. I do highly recommend bringing a camera to capture these experiences. You can also check out my list of what I typically bring.

DISCLAIMER: You should understand that when attempting any of these hikes or participating in any sort of physical activity, there is the possibility of physical injury. Always consult your physician before attempting any form of strenuous exercise.

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