Kuliouou Ridge Trail

Kuliouou Ridge Trail is an awesome ridge hike near Honolulu, O’ahu which features some of the best views of downtown, Hawaii Kai, and Waimanalo. Although this hike can really challenge your aerobic endurance toward the top (reminiscent of Koko Head Trail), it’s totally worth the views.

Suck it up, buttercup. You’re missing out!

About the Trail

  • Location: Kuliouou Forest Reserve just north of highway 72 going East from Honolulu to Hawaii Kai
  • Length: 4-5 miles out and back
  • Fear Factor: Minimal, until you get to the top. There are trails that allow you to continue along the ridge or get closer to the drop-offs

Starting the Hike

This hike starts in a neighborhood. Hikes that start at the back of neighborhoods are always a little tricky when it comes to parking. Park the wrong way/wrong place/in front of the wrong house, you’ll get a ticket. How do you know where and how to park?

Look at what other cars are doing and see if they have tickets. If they do not, then try to park by those cars. If they do, it’s probably because:

  • The wheels are over the line, interfering with traffic
  • They parked on the wrong side of the street, which will cause traffic issues getting out of the spot
  • They’re parked where it clearly states not to park (fire lane, “do not park” sign)
  • The household doesn’t like how you parked in front of them (maybe blocking the driveway, too far on their lawn, etc.)

The best way to go about parking is to wait for a car to leave and take their spot. Sometimes you just don’t have time to wait… and you have to risk it. YOLO.

There are plenty of hikes with clear parking, like Makapu’u Lighthouse or Makapu’u Puka.

But don’t let parking deter you from experiencing some of the best hikes on the island.

If others can figure it out, so can you.

Doing the Hike

The ridge trail goes through the pine forest reserve, which overlooks the Kuliouou Valley with views of Honolulu/Hawaii Kai through the trees. It’s worth peeking at, but this is not the vista point that you’re working hard to see!

Similar to Aiea Loop Trail, this hike doesn’t at all feel like Hawaii due to the pine. It’s a great change of pace from the tropical hikes that are found all over the island. It does make for slippier surfaces to climb on though… going up or downhill on a pine-covered slope is guaranteed to make you look clumsy as hell.

kuli'ou'ou forest trail hike
Thanks, Planet of Adventures, for a trail picture which I failed to capture!

Once you get to the ridge area, you’re going to notice that there are stairs. Then, more stairs. And around the corner? Stairs. There are like 7-8 sets of stairs on the way up (not sure if that’s accurate… I blocked it out from memory) and they’re quite deceiving… once you think they’re all done, there’s more.

But the views are pretty sick, and admiring the views is a good excuse to stop and rest.

On the Ridge

The ridge is worth the climb. You get views of the civilization below you, the mountains around you, and the ocean before you. The best part is that you don’t have to stop here. Although it’s the formal end to the trail, there are options to continue to the right or left of the “summit”.

The day I hiked, I had to turn back due to time constraints. BUT, I am curious to see what the other trails have to offer. I can imagine they provide more epic views of the ridges overlooking Waimanalo. The views I got were pretty awesome, though!

Have you hiked beyond the formal trail’s end? Were the views worth it? Is Kuliouou Ridge Trail on your to-do list? Tell me below!

Looking for a flatter hike in cooler elevations?

Check out Aiea Loop Trail and keep an eye out for the WW2 plane crash.

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