There are many awesome hiking trails in Hawaii, and particularly on Oahu, where many of them summit the Ko’olau mountains that split the south and north of eastern Oahu island.

Hawai’iloa Ridge Trail climbs the Ko’olau mountain and is one of the best hiking trails in Hawaii. Below is some information, photos, and video to help you organize your trip while on Oahu.

Official Name: Hawai’iloa Ridge Trail

Description: A 3.5 mile (5.6 kilometers) long trail with a strong vertical component. Peak elevation is 1700 vertical feet (518 meters). This trail has a couple of parts. For the more than the first half of your journey you’ll be climbing through dry forest. Then the trail heads up to the peak and you spend the last third walking on the ridge of one of the hills in the Ko’olau mountain chain.

Difficulty: There are some difficult sections of trail that inexperienced or unfit hikers might have trouble with. Ropes can be used for portions of the climb, but do inspect the condition of the ropes before you use them – in some cases they have been there for years. There are some roots that have a tendency to twist ankles on this trail – do wear some stable shoes.

Flora: Uluhe, `ilima and even strawberry guava can sometimes be found. Needless to say there are thousands of different plants you might come across on the trail.

Why Go? There are spectacular views of both windward and eastern sides of Oahu.


  • Hawaii State ID is necessary – and check in with the guard at the gate. The exact details of this are vague… both me and my hiking partner had Hawaii Driver’s Licenses every time we hiked, but I think if at least one person in your group has their license – you can all go. If you know the deal – will you email me so I can update this?
  • Stay on the trail, if you wander off you might be on private property and trespassing.
  • Do not light campfires on any trail in Hawaii. Do not leave smoldering cigarettes or matches on the trail. Hawaii forests are quite dry in many places and can burn for days once a fire is started.
  • Do not camp on the trail.
  • Dog owners keep dogs leashed at all times and remove dog feces from the trail. Hunters are permitted to take dogs off leashes while in pursuit of game.
  • Wear bright clothing – yellows, blues, greens, orange – there are hunters in the area.
  • To report vandalism, trail damage, or other problems, call 808-973-9782.

Vern’s Note – this is a really great trail to do for fitness, and that’s how my friends and I usually did it – a jog up the hill. These guys did it in 40 minutes, which is quite good. You have to wear stable hiking shoes for this hike – the roots and bumps in the dirt are treacherous and you can turn an ankle easily. Do be on the lookout for bees. If you start seeing bees around, stop and listen for the low hum – signaling a hive. If you can hear it – you might be too close. I always turn around on the hikes where I can hear a bee hive. Nothing like being chased down a mountain trail by buzzing bees. It’s not a fun experience – and I’ve had it, but only took me once to learn!