Outbound Collective logo

5 Reasons Why Hawaii’s Olomana “Three Peaks” Hike Is An Adrenaline Junkie’s Dream

Don't look down.

By: Hillary + Matt + Save to a List

Hawaii, with its breathtaking vistas and raw natural beauty, is a hiking enthusiast’s playground. From Kauai’s jade-pleated Na Pali Coast to the Big Island’s Waipio Valley, it seems there’s a trail waiting to be explored no matter which island you’re on or where you happen to look.

But on Oahu, the Aloha State’s most developed island, the Olomana Trail just may be one of the most rewarding (and dangerous) of them all. With its razor-sharp ridges (which plunge straight down on either side) and the ropes (questionable at best) that hikers trust with their lives, this erosional remnant of the Ko’olau volcano is one of the state’s must do’s...if you’ve got the guts, that is.

Hike the Olomana Trail | Photo: Hillary + Matt

1. Put your life in the frayed hands of hope, er, we mean rope

If you’re a true adrenaline junkie, you’re going all the way. What that means is that you’ll see more than a dozen different spots along the trail that have ropes. Sometimes they’re unnecessary. Sometimes your life depends on it. There are often several ropes to choose from in a given section, but who knows how long they’ve been there or how much weight they can hold. Amiright? Use your brain and give each rope a few good tugs before continuing on. And just know – you’re taking a life-or-death risk any time you grab one.

2. You’re exposed to the elements

Sun, rain, falling hundreds of feet to your death...you’re exposed to them all. Hawaii is known for its quick-changing weather; one minute it could be sunny and hot, and the next it's pouring rain. Not only are their risks of flash flooding in some areas of the hike, but it also means these ropes you're relying on to save your life might be wet and fraying as they rub up against the rocks, the ground you’re walking on is slippery and unstable, and there’s no protection from the elements (or from falling off the cliff) once you’ve reached the first peak. People have had to be rescued from hypothermia in Hawaii because they get caught in the mountains during a rainstorm. But that only adds to the adventure, right?

Hike the Olomana Trail | Photo: Hillary + Matt

3. It’s not full-on rock climbing, but you’ll need to climb rocks

It should go without saying, but you should probably be in pretty good shape if you’re going to attempt this hike. Not only is there an elevation gain of more than 1,600 feet, but you’re going to be required to balance, hoist yourself up and down those ropes, and do a little rock scrambling – sans harness and belay.

4. You have to do it all again to get back to your car

Because once just wasn’t enough, right? This is primarily an out and back trail and although there are some trails that will take you down the other side, your best bet is to head back the way you came. There’s no clear path leading down, fewer ropes to assist the down climb, and once you get to the base of the peaks the trails become less and less defined and you can get pretty lost pretty quick. Take our advice and make the trek back the way you came. It’s just as beautiful (and just as tough) the second time around.

5. When you finish, you’re in Hawaii

Here’s the “dream” part of the hike. When you finish your hike, you’re rewarded with the fact that you are in Hawaii. Rinse off the sweat in the ocean, then rest and recover on the beach. I mean...it doesn’t get much better than that. Although if you really want to cap this day off right, you’ll have to head to Leonard’s at the end of the day for their amazing malasadas.

Hike the Olomana Trail | Photo: Hillary + Matt

Cover photo: Hillary + Matt

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Get the gear you need for your hiking adventures:

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


Watch Amazing Footage of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Liam McNally

Chasing True Adventure in the Hawaiian Islands

Matt Fischer

7 Photos to Convince You That Hiking to Oahu's Lanikai Pillboxes for Sunrise Is Totally Worth It

Abby Shepard

Living in a Dream World: Hawaii through My Eyes

Jayden Croft

For the Love of the Land

Karissa Frye