Hike Hawaii Loa Ridge
The Hawaii Loa Ridge hike offers stunning views of Hawaii Kai and Waikiki on the south side of Oahu as you clamber through windblown grassy ridges and eerie tunnel-like guava groves.
Once you get to the top, you are rewarded with spectacular views of both the entire windward coast in front of you and the south coast behind you. The beautiful five mile total out-and-back hike is relatively easy for the first 1.5 mile or so, but the last mile out is a very, very steep climb and correspondingly, the first mile back is very steep descent. Don't let the chichi neighborhood fool you, the hike can be very strenuous if you go for the gold, especially if you run out of water or nourishing snacks before you reach the top. Give yourself about 3-4 hours to go to the top and back.
The Hawaii Loa Ridge hike is at the top of the Hawaii Loa Ridge subdivision, a very affluent neighborhood in East Honolulu. To get to the trailhead, you will need to check in with the guardhouse at the entrance to the subdivision. Access to the hike is provided to Hawaii residents (probably a concession the developer had to give to get permits or zoning), so make sure at least one person in your party has a Hawaii State ID of some sort. No ID, no hike. Ascend Puuikena drive all the way to the top and continue on into Paka Nahele Park. Drive all the way to the large water tank and park in one of the provided spaces.
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Hike the Hawaii Loa Ridge
Follow Road at end of Puuikena Drive, 96821 [map]
Top of Hawaii Loa Ridge Subdivision
Parking at Trailhead
1, 22, 58
Dawn to Dusk
Check in with guard at entrance to subdivision. One Hawaii State ID required.
Hat, Sturdy Shoes, Sunscreen, Water for 4 hours, Snacks for 4 hours
The trail is relatively worn and well marked. The beginning of the hike is wide open, with grassy ridges and bushes and shrubs. It doesn't take long before you have a nice view of Hawaii Kai to the right.
As you meander along the varying ascents and descents, you pass through several groves of ironwood and guava. I found the guava tree tunnel to be interesting to look at and very eerie with the wind buffeting the protected tunnel, creating crackly knocking noises that would be appropriate for Halloween. When you are on open trails between tree groves, a quick glance to the right shows a neat valley with a variety of vegetation and trees. The varying terrain isn't particularly challenging, but there are some very short, steep banks with strategically placed ropes tied around tree trunks; use them.
The trail will suddenly become relatively steep with very few plateaus and flat stretches. Less hardy souls should turn around at this point, but if you can do it, a trip to the top is well worth it. As you ascend, take frequent breaks and pretend to enjoy the views of Hawaii Kai to the east, Waikiki and the Waianae range to the west (yes, they look spectacular even on your 5th break in 20 minutes). At some point, you will start to see dirt stairs reinforced with plastic slats carved into the trail. As shown in my photos, the stairway to heaven looks very, very long and the top still looks very, very far away. It is.
Once at the top, you are rewarded with a beautiful view of the Windward coast, stretching from Waimanalo through Kailua and Kaneohoe to Kualoa Point. And if you turn around in place, you can see Hawaii Kai, Koko Marina, Koko Crater and Koko Head. Fantastic. Rest, relax, and be careful on the way back. Steep descents are even harder and trickier than the steep ascents.
Dan's Hawaii Tip
Make sure someone in the car has their Hawaii Sate ID or driver's license so you can get pass the guard gate at the bottom of the hill.
11/11/2011 4:39:44 PMIve lived on Hawaii Loa for a couple of years...State ID or not you can still go up.
9/30/2011 4:50:26 PMSeptember when we hike with friends."Man, I love the place",wish We come back next time.the best ever,full of, adventure.
8/20/2011 10:33:32 AMautomatic no static, bumbye da hike wen broke my mana
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