Kuliouou Ridge Hike


"If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much space."

Updated: January 17, 2018

Location: Located in Hawaii Kai with a beautiful view of the Windward side. One of my favorite hikes on the East side!

Type: Forest/Ridge hike

Hike Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

Total Time: 3 hours round trip

Distance: ~4.5 miles

Elevation: ~1700 feet

Things to Consider

  • Kid friendly: yes
  • Pet Friendly: yes
  • This hike has one of the nicest views on the East side of the island.
  • The trail is not that strenuous, and instead climbs up the side of the mountain by switchbacks.
  • There is a fork in the trail in the beginning. The left leads to Kuliouou Valley Falls and turning right leads to the ridge. Signs are posted for information.
  • There are a bunch of stairs at the end and most of the elevation is gained during this part of the hike. This is also the part where there is no shade, so be sure to bring lots of water for the hike.
  • You can see Jackson Chameleons and native snails on this trail.
  • This is a state maintained trail.

Your hiking backpack

  • 2 to 3 Liters of water
  • Snacks/lunch
  • Bug Spray
  • GoPro camera
  • Sunscreen


Take Kamehameha Highway towards Hawaii Kai side of the island. Take a left onto Kuliouou Rd and follow the road all the way to the end. Take a slight right onto Kalaau Pl and the trail will be at the end of the road. Take a slight right up the the Valley and Ridge trail signs. Take a right to head up to the ridge and follow the switchbacks.

Our Journey

This hike is has one of the most beautiful views in Hawaii Kai! Although it is not the easiest hike, it does have switchbacks to make the hike less strenuous. We started off at the end of Kalaau Pl. There isn't much parking here, since this is a popular hike. You may have to walk a journey up the street to get to your hike.

Follow signs for the Kuliouou Ridge trail. Follow the paved road and take a slight right onto the trail into the forest. At the fork, take a right and continue up the many switchbacks of the hike.

There are a lot of "short cuts" on this hike. You will see them as you are making your way up the mountain. Just be aware that some of them do not lead to the trail and you may end up getting lost in the forest. A word of advice would be if you can't see the end of the short cut, don't take it. Unless you want to be adventurous and have a lot of time on your hands to get lost, it isn't worth the extra energy anyways to save a couple of minutes on the hike. Stay on the path.

I love this hike because of all the different scenery you get to see within a short amount of time. The forest trees, the plants, etc all change as you get further into the hike. There are a lot of signs with arrows to show you the way through the forest. After the forest, the ridge begins to open up and then comes the stairs. The stairs is probably the hardest and most strenuous part of the hike. However, once you get to the top, you are awarded with one of the most beautiful views on the island! On a clear day you can see Makapu'u all the way to China Man's Hat! The whole hike takes about 3 hours round trip, depending on your pace and picture taking. If you are looking for a more difficult hike, there is also the Pu'u O Kona loop that you can do in the same area!




























This is the start of the hike, past the yellow gate.




























Follow signs for the Kuliouou Ridge Trail.




























At the fork, take a right. The left leads to Kuliouou Valley Falls.




























The trail is fairly gradual, with a lot of switchbacks.




























Tree roots and rocks throughout the whole trail.




























The scenery and trees are beautiful on this hike!




























Switchback after switchback. When will it end?




























Finally the switchbacks stopped and we headed deeper into the forest.




























Signs on the hike showing us which direction to go.

There are a lot of faint pig trails, where you can get lost.




























Then we entered into a pine tree forest.




























Here's a great spot to take a rest. I believe this is the half way spot.




























Graffiti all over this picnic area.




























The pine trees are awesome!




























There are a couple of steeper inclines here heading up to the ridge section.






















There's a bench to rest on after you climb that steep hill.






















You can also take a picture at this banyan tree.




























The forest finally opened up and the view was amazing!




























The end is in sight! All the way up the mountain.






















We also spotted a jackson chameleon on the trail!






















He wanted to come home with us, but we decided to put him back into the leaves.




























And then comes the stairs.






















Shaka to the views though!






















If you're getting tired climbing the stairs, just take a break and look back at the view.




























Little by little. Step by step.




























At last, we made it! Luckily there was no clouds today!




























One of the best views on the island!




























When the view makes you feel like flying away.






















Don't get too close to the edge. It's a long way down.






















Taking a selfie on the left edge!






















Alright shoots! Time to head back down.




























Heading back down, with the beautiful view of Waikiki and Diamond Head.

What a great hike indeed!

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