Kuliouou Valley Trail

Kuliouou Valley

I've hiked to Kuliouou Ridge on several occasions, in the process bypassing a little gem of a hike into valley below it. The trailhead for both treks is the same; to get to the valley trail, continue heading toward the rear of the valley at a junction where the route to the ridge turns upslope.

I traversed the trail in the early part of January ('96) with about two dozen members and guests of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club. I was among a small group of hikers leading the tribe into the valley. A trio of us moved quickly early over wide and level graded path. After about 15 minutes, our pace slowed slightly as we had to negotiate rocky, more hilly, and slick sections. At several points, we rock-hopped across Kuliouou Stream, devoid of water but a bit tricky to ford because precipitation from the previous night had dampened the streambed pohaku.

In about an hour, the first group had reached the back of the valley. At that point, with the aid of a 50-foot coil of rope I always bring with me on hikes, a couple of us scrambled up a small, slick waterfall chute. A hundred feet above us, a red trail ribbon affixed to a shrub fluttered in the gentle breeze. The guy I was with, a tall-lanky 40-ish chap, suggested that ascending any further wouldn't be advisable. I agreed, and we both found spots to plop down to grab a drink of water and a bite to eat.

The main body of the group was just a few minutes behind us and in the next 15 minutes just about everyone had arrived and found riverbed perches to hunker down on.

For almost the entire route, the trail is shaded by a canopy of trees and vegetation, a particular delight if you happen to hit the trail on a hot summer day. While ridge hiking is my preference, I enjoyed the short, pleasant trip into this southeast Oahu valley. Try it if you have the chance.

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