10 Thoughts You’ll Have Hiking Oahu’s Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail

Hit the trail, then head to the beach.

By: Shauna Simons
April 8, 2016

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Oahu is home to some of the most scenic landscapes in Hawaii and offers a variety of hiking trails to enjoy. My husband and I have lived on this island for over four years and Kuli'ou'ou Ridge Trail is one of our favorite weekend treks. At five miles round trip, Kuli'ou'ou is the perfect excursion if you want a bit of a challenge with a big payoff. We’ve conquered this trail so many times that we can even guess the thoughts that will be running through your head as you set off to tackle the mountain for yourself…

1. I’m hiking in paradise.

A few minutes down the trail and you’ll be hit with the realization that you are hiking through a jungle, and that realization will feel a lot like humidity. Double check to make sure that you brought enough water, then breathe in that muggy air and get ready to sweat.

2. Another switchback?

Kuli'ou'ou is known for its relentless switchbacks. Even though the temptation will be real and opportunities endless, avoid veering from the path to take shortcuts. Not only does this damage native wildlife, it increases your chances of getting lost, or accidentally targeted by hunters.

Photo: Shauna Simons

3. I can and I must stop at every scenic point.

As you hike, you’ll find a few great opportunities to peek out over the valley, city, and ocean. Do stop to “enjoy the view” (which everyone knows is code for “catch your breath”), but remember that an even better one is waiting for you at the top.

4. Wait, where am I?

The diversity of this trail is one of the reasons we love it so much. You’ll experience a lush jungle, woodsy forest, open ridgeline, and more. The change in scenery will undoubtedly both excite your senses and make you question whether or not you’re still in Hawaii.

Photo: Shauna Simons

5. Why didn’t I bring my camping gear?

There are some fun camping areas along this trail that are typically occupied on the weekend by youth clubs, hiking groups, and other adventurous souls. If you’re the type who gets FOMO* easily, plan ahead, grab a permit, and pack your tent.

*Fear of Missing Out

6. 376 steps - let’s do this!

Just when you think you’re almost to the summit is right about the time you’ll be met by a never-ending set of stairs. The good news is, you are actually almost there. Plus, this section of the trail is incredibly beautiful and gives you a small preview of the picturesque view that’s to come.

Photo: Shauna Simons

7. No, I can’t do it.

We get it; these steps are endless. Pause and “enjoy the view” if you need to. Otherwise, just take your time and feel the burn!

8. Is the color of that water for real?

Hello, beautiful ocean! The view from the top of Kuli'ou'ou is epic – especially on a clear, sunny day. Get ready for sweeping views of the Windward side of the island where you’ll see popular landmarks like Koko Head, Rabbit Island, and the Mokulua Islands.

Photo: Shauna Simons

9. Oahu is obviously the best Hawaiian Island.

Well, we could have told you that.

10. Did someone say shave ice?

After an impressive hike like Kuli'ou'ou, there’s nothing better than cooling off with a shave ice. So get off that mountain and head just down the road to Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha or Waiola Shave Ice – both equally delicious and the perfect way to reenergize for you next Oahu adventure.

Cover photo: Shauna Simons

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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

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.