Take this popular hike through the Kuli’ou’ou forest reserve to the top of the Ko’olau Range and get great views of the windward coast from the summit. Ascend 1,800 feet along the dry and shady ridge. Along the trail there are a variety of native plants such as Christmas bery, koa haole, guava and Cook pines. The hike is reasonably short, about 2.5 miles to the summit, mostly shady and usually mud free. But don’t let the first half of the hike fool you! The second half begins a steep ascent to the top, with steps and a rope to help you along the eroded areas. Overall, you can burn up to an estimated 860 calories.
This hike is suitable for all levels of hikers, novices and experienced alike. Those who prefer a less strenuous hike can climb the graded switchbacks up to the picnic table rest area. Keep a lookout for mountain bikers, hunters and trail runners along the switchback sections. Camping is allowed on this trail, just make sure you obtain a permit before pitching your tent. More experienced hikers can head for the summit, continuing beyond the rest area.
Once at the summit, take in the 360 view of the east side of O’ahu. To the front is Waimanalo Bay, offshore is Manana Island, a seabird sanctuary, and off to the left on the coast is Kailua Bay. At the top the wind can be very gusty, so pack along a windbreaker or light jacket to keep you warm.
To get to the trailhead, from Kalanianaole Highway going east take a left on Kuli’ou’ou Road and head into the valley. Pass the neighborhood park on the right. At the Dead End sign turn right onto Kala’au Place. Park along the street and walk to the trailhead at the end of the cul-de-sac.