Take a Hike on Hawaiiloa Ridge Trail
One of the pure joys of Oahu is the Hawaiiloa Ridge Trail, nestled in greenery and flanked by mountains. This is one of the roads less traveled on Oahu, compared with over-used and popular trails like Maunawili Falls Trail. Part of the charm of Hawaiiloa is that it’s a gated community that only permits 10 cars in at a time for hikes. This means you get relative peace and quiet as you navigate this hidden gem. Quite fitting when you’re trying to get in tune with nature!
This trail, while moderate in terms of skill level, is not for the faint of heart. At seven miles round trip, this isn’t a quick trail you can do in an hour. That said, the trail is very well-maintained, line with uluhe ferns which have been cut back on both sides so as not to scrape your legs. This is a problem on other paths, but not this one. You can get here from Waikiki by taking the Kalanianaole Highway east. Once in Aina Haina, take a right onto Pu’u’ikena Drive, which will bring you to the gated community. The guard shack is open daily at 7 a.m., where you can pick up a map of the trail. There are only spots for 10 cars so get there early or you’ll have to wait till a spot opens up before you’re allowed in.
On this hike, you’re met with panoramic views of the Koolau Range on your way up and East Oahu on your way down. Be prepared for lots of rolling hills that meander through thickets, ironwood forests, and guava groves. Take a break before you start the straight-up ascent to the summit. You’ll know you’re at that point when you see wooden stairs built into the hill. It’s pretty steep, so be sure to use the rope handles provided you. Once at the top, you’ll get incredible views of Kailua and Kaneohe, punctuated by a refreshing breeze.
Overall, this hike is challenging for beginners and intermediate hikers. Wear the proper clothing and dress in layers, as it will be warm at the base and chilly at the top with strong breezes. Slather on the sunscreen and bug spray, and pack a backpack with plenty of water and snacks like trail mix. Hiking shoes are recommended for this hike, which can be quite rolling at times and steep at others. You’ll need some good traction to get through any sharp increases in elevation, as well as to navigate through some mud if there’s been a recent rain.
Once you’ve had your fill of hiking Hawaiiloa Ridge Trail, call us here at Hoku Hawaii Tours to show you around the rest of the island. Our Circle Island Tour brings you to all the hot spots in Oahu, from Dole Plantation and Diamond Head Crater lookout to Halona Blowhole and Hanauma Bay. We even provide lunch!
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