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Mount Olympus: via Wa'ahila Ridge

Quote

"Wake up every day,

stronger than yesterday."

Updated: January 24, 2017

 

Location: Starting up at St. Louis Heights, this hike has a brutal climb to the KST with a beautiful view from Kaneohe all the way to Makapu'u!

Type: Ridge hike

Hike Difficulty: Intermediate

Total Time: 6 hours round trip

Distance: ~6 miles

Elevation: ~2600 feet

Things to Consider

  • Kid friendly: no
  • Pet Friendly: no
  • There are two routes to reach the trail head to this hike. One is the Kolowalu Trail and the other is the Wa'ahila Ridge trail. We took the Wa'ahila Ridge because it is a more scenic route. Kolowalu has less views and is just through the forest.
  • You can choose to just do the Wa'ahila Ridge Loop, which would be easier than hiking up to the summit.
  • Sometimes the trail can get muddy, especially after a heavy rain so be careful on the narrow spots.
  • This trail has some ferns, so wear pants if you don't want your legs to get scratched up. The ferns aren't too dense, but they do leave you with some battle scars at the end of the hike.
  • There are a couple of rope sections on this hike. Not sure how good the condition of the ropes are currently.
  • There isn't really an end summit lookout point. There are a couple of spots to chill and have lunch, but at the KST we turned right to get a closer view of Ka'au Crater.
  • There are a lot of false peaks, but the view at the top is definitely worth the climb.
  • Because of the altitude of the hike, most of the time the view is covered in clouds. Go on a clear day if possible.
  • Also known as Awaawaloa, Mount Olympus is definitely not a stroll in the park kind of hike.
  • Expect to take about another 2 hours from the end of maintained trail sign to reach the summit of Mount Olympus. Make sure you time your hike wisely.
  • The Wa'ahila Ridge itself was about one and a half hours to the junction. This is the more easier and scenic route.
  • The Kolowalu Ridge will take about the same time, but the incline is a more strenuous and you gain more than half the elevation in less than half a mile.

Your hiking backpack

  • Bug spray
  • Sun Screen
  • 2 to 3 Liters of water
  • Snacks/lunch
  • GoPro/camera
  • Gloves

Directions

Head up to St. Loius Heights by Manoa to get tot the Wa'ahila Ridge Trail. Parking will be at the Wa'ahila Ridge State Recreation Area. Park hours are from 7am-745pm. The Kolowalu trail starts in the same location as the Pu'u Pia Trail in Manoa Valley.  Google Map 3680 Alani Dr. and you will see the sign marking the start of the trail. Both hikes merge together to join a loop trail. Towards the top, you will see an "end of maintained trail" sign. This is the start of the Mount Olympus hike.

Our Journey

Mount Olympus has been calling our name for a while now. Because who wouldn't want to conquer a hike called Mount Olympus!? We decided to go from the Wa'ahila Ridge trail to reach the trail head. This route is a lot more scenic and less strenuous. This is due to less elevation gain from starting up high on a ridge. Taking the Kolowalu Trail will take the same amount of time and distance, but you will gain a lot more elevation because the trail starts low in Manoa Valley. If you are looking for a challenge, start from the Kolowalu Trail. If you want to make it to the Mount Olympus Trail head without much difficulty, take the Wa'ahila Ridge trail. We headed up St. Louis Heights to the Wa'ahila Ridge State Recreation Area. The hike is fairly gradual, nothing too difficult. Sorry I didn't take any pictures during this part of the hike. Soon we will do the full loop hike so check back for more updates. However, the Wa'ahila Ridge is a walk in the park, compared to the Mount Olympus portion of the hike. The hike is steep and narrow at parts. There are rope sections and parts where you need to hold on to branches and twigs to climb up. There is also ferns towards the ending of the hike, which is common on most KST hikes. Bring pants if you don't want to get all scratched up. There are also a lot of false peaks on this hike, so you think you're almost there, but you're not. It is very taxing on the body, but the end views will most definitely be worth it. Hopefully you do this hike on a clear day. If there is cloud cover, wait maybe ten to twenty minutes. Sometimes the clouds roll on and the view clears up. It took us about another two hours from the end of maintained trail sign to reach the summit. We took lots of breaks and pictures. After we reached the KST we turned to the right and followed the trail for a bit. There was a small spot to rest with a view of Ka'au Crater in the distance. This is where we stopped and turned around. Definitely a crazy hike, not sure if I would do it again. Ka'au Crater would be a better hike I think. However, it was definitely one for the books!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We didn't take any pictures of the Wa'ahila Trail, but check back for more updates when we do the loop hike! This is the junction to Mount Olympus!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End of maintained trail. Venture on if you dare!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heading up the ridge, you get views like this right away!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are also a couple of spots like this for a break or snack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The journey to Mount Olympus is a strenuous one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ridge can get skinny at parts, so be careful where you step!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots of ferns along the way to stop you, but keep on going!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back at St. Louis Heights seeing how far we came.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a lot of false peaks too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yup. Another false peak. Were still not there yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trail gets a little overgrown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep checking back at the view. It's amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We gotta head back all that way??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ferns though!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another resting spot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We thought this was the top, but no. There's another peak!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one was definitely steep! Holding on to roots and trees for grip!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down and up again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm pretty sure were on the KST now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We turned right and followed the ridge a little further.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ko'olau Mountain Range!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The KST portion is extremely thin and one false step

could send you tumbling over the edge of the moutain!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this is where we stopped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can continue along the KST to Ka'au Crater, but we stopped here. I think this is the end, although the other peak was higher than where we were now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luckily we hiked on a clear day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sick views! Olomana in the distance on the right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the edge of danger. Couldn't resist!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a long tiring journey back down to St. Louis Heights. 6 hours total!

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