Summary: The Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail is a 2.25 mile trail that rises almost 1800 feet, before peaking on the spine of the Ko`olau Ridge. It’s a tough run, for it is steep, but it is very run-able and offers a great reward in the form of spectacular views. The locals say that you’re suppose to run to the top, come back down to the picnic table, and then run back to the top again.
The Good: The trail is in very good shape. Unlike a lot of other trails that go mauka on the Ko`olau Ridge, this one is wide and easily navigable all the way to the end. There are no ropes, there’s no forced hiking; you can run as hard and as long as your legs can handle. Being steep, there’s some erosion, but it’s been well addressed and should hold up well for a long time. And the views — wow, the views. Fantastic. From Diamond Head, all the way around to the Makapu`u Lighthouse and on to Kaneoha Bay, standing at the top of the trail lets you see everything from Honolulu to the Kona Brewing Company restaurant in Hawaii Kai. And the foliage is awesome; like the website says,
The trail traverses through an assortment of exotic vegetation typical of arid areas: Christmas berry, haole koa, formosa koa, ironwood, Norfolk pine and guava. Beyond the shelter and the guava forest, the trail breaks out of the canopy and into uluhe-o`hia-koa-lama forest.
The Bad: Are you OK with ascending about 1800 feet of elevation, in 2.25 miles? Because you’re going to do that. Are you happy only running on bike trails? This ascent features rocks and roots and stairs and all kinds of things that will make you question your footing, and question your sanity on the way down. Now, I happen to like that stuff, but hey, that’s me. And remember — this is an active hunting area, so be careful on the weekends.
The Ugly: Nothing.
Type of route: Trail
Good to run in the rain? It’s be a tough one, especially the last little bit.
Length: 2.25 miles to the top.
Options for the route: Run to the top, come back down to the picnic area, then re-assault the top — that’s 10km once you get back to the car.
Elevation change on the run: 300 feet up to 2100 feet, and back down.
Water used: I used 1.5 liters, but could have / would have used more.
Where to start: Kalaau Pl, Honolulu, Hawaii 96821S
Where to park: Same. The very end of the street is marked no parking, and that seems to be enforced. Get there early, or your parking options won’t be close to the trail head.
Point your car’s GPS towards: here.
Medical care? Nope.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.
Picnic areas? One. Mid way up, about 1.5 miles from the trail head and .7 miles from the top.
A place to change afterwards? Nope.
Rewards in the area: The truly stunning view. That, and the Kona Brewing Company restaurant.
You’d run this route when….it’s not actually raining Windward, and you want a nice view. When the skies are clear, and you think you can get up there for the sunrise. When you’re training for the DipSea. When old ladies call you out.
My rating: 9
Music: Some classic 80’s tunes. That is, assuming no one is close enough to you on the trails to actually hear what you’re listening to. If that’s the case, go with NWA.