Things to Do on Oahu: Hike the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail
Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail is labeled as a “intermediate hiking trail” by most hiking centric and fan sites that I have found. Exploration Hawaii actually calls it an “introductory ridge trail.” That being said, you really have to be careful with those ratings. Many of those websites are written by avid or extreme hikers and not the 40 year old guy with a wife and a kid.
It’s a 6 mile, round-trip hike that is located on the Diamond Head side of the Island. It’s close to Honolulu, actually.
Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail broke me down a little bit but I was getting bored with some of the Makapuu Lighthouse and Diamond Head Crater type of hikes. I wanted a ridge trail that had great views and this one delivered.
Note: At the top of this hill on Laukahi, you’re going to come to a guard station. The trail head is located in a gated community (the Waialae Subdivision). The houses are gorgeous but don’t stop to look around, as you’ll be warned by the guard, because the homeowners don’t like it. Just get your parking pass and roll on.
Directions to Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail
- Take H1 towards Hawaii Kai
- H1 will end and become the Kalanianole Highway
- Turn left on Laukahi Street
The guard will give you a street map of the neighborhood. Follow it to the small parking lot. You’ll see the trail signs and what starts out as simple stroll along a paved road.
The road is pretty boring. Then will come a dirt road as you enter some pretty cool tunneled-canopy of tropical forest. We were able to pick some guava along the way.
Eventually, you’ll come to a smaller clearing and pretty cool bench-swing that is kind of pretty with the way it’s painted. Look underneath. It’s kind of a sweet message.
At this point, the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail will start to hit the difficult part. It’s full of steps and inclines from there on out.
Note: First half mile going back down is also the most difficult, especially if it’s a little wet. Make sure to use the ropes to help you down and watch your step. You’ll also have more luck if you turn your back to the trail and sort of just lean back and hold onto the rope as you take baby-steps in the slick mud.
It took my family and I about 4 hours to do the whole thing but we stopped for plenty of pictures and rests as well as a long rest as we enjoyed the views at the top.
There are a few steep, eroded areas that will require the help of a rope to get up and down. Depending on your pace, it will probably take you 45 minutes or more from the swing to the relay station. At that point you’re real close to summit. I’m not going to lie, the last 2.5 miles almost killed me. I was hurtin’ for certain.
The top was kind of magical, though. East Honolulu was gorgeous, bright and shining. The was invisible behind a wall of fog. I mean you literally couldn’t 10 or 20 feet of the ridge. Then, magically it cleared up and we got the view we were waiting for. Right before we left again, the fog rolled in and we couldn’t see. Windward Coast