In East Honolulu, the Kuliouou Ridge Hike is a local favorite. In minutes you step from the residential streets of Aina Haina onto tree covered paths that zig zag to the top of the Koolaus. On the way up, you cover varied terrain, from pine forests to multi-colored hills. The top is considered pristine forest, and the vegetation changes to tropical flora and Ohia trees. The ridge line offers spectacular views around the southeast end of Oahu, from Kaneohe all the way to Waikiki.
This hike takes all of three hours at a leisurely pace—and is guaranteed to take away your worries (especially if you’re wearing a Trouble Hook…see Chinatown blog entry).
What to Expect:
A picnic table and shelter erected by the Boy Scouts and nearby area used for camping awaits along the ridgeline during the climb to the summit.
The official 3.4-mi/1700-ft trail ends at the first junction with the Koolau crest. The formidable peak to the left, which stands tall at the head of Kuliouou Valley, is called Puu o Kona (elev. 2,200-ft).
Kalaau Pl (end) to intersection: 0.2-mi / +50 ft
Switchbacks – int. to ridgeline: 0.7-mi / +740 ft
Ridgeline to Koolau crest: 0.8-mi / +910 ft
Crest junction to Puu o Kona: 0.4-mi / +170 ft
Both Kuliouou trails begin on the right-hand, mauka (uphill) side about 25 yards beyond the chained entrance to the Board of Water Supply access road at the end of Kalaau Pl. Several signs mark the beginning of the foot-trail, including one that reads: “Kuliouou Public Hunting Area”.
Accessing the Trail:
Both trails are part of the Na Ala Hele inventory meaning they are open to the public and well-maintained. There is no designated parking except what hikers can find within the residential area on Kalaau Pl. Do not park along the cul-de-sac: it is designated “no parking”.
From either direction along Kalanianaole Hwy (Rte 72), turn at the traffic light onto Kuliouou Road and drive 0.3-mile to the end (stop sign). Do not continue straight for that housing complex is the Haleloa residential area (there are no trailheads there). Instead, follow Elelupe Road a block to the left, then make an immediate right back onto Kuliouou Road (yes, for some reason it is disjointed). Proceed 0.7-mile and turn right onto Kalaau Pl. Total distance between highway and trailhead: 1.3-miles.
Do’s and Don’ts on this date: Hike this ridge on a hot day, as foliage and elevation make it a cooler trek than some others.