Lanihuli is the peak on the Koolaus between the Pali and Likelike Highways. At one time, there was a well used trail to the top from the end of Alewa Drive. Earlier in this century the area of the Koolau summit between Mt. Olympus and Lanihuli was closed as a "watershed." The decision did not make any sense and people kept on using the trails to Mt. Olympus, Konahuanui, and Lanihuli. But the access way to Lanihuli Trail also passed through land owned by Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate land, which in its infinite wisdom, also decided to deny access to all hikers under any circumstances. The Lanihuli Trail is therefore the least accessible of the three.
The State recently relented and essentially told hiking clubs that they will not enforce the "watershed" prohibition any more. Mt. Olympus Trail was recently cleared ten feet wide by the Sierra Club, which also has conducted official hikes to Konahuanui for the past several years. Lanihuli has never been done officially because of KS/BE.
On 7-4-95, we somehow sneaked through. The ridge is the one that is a continuation of Alewa Drive and is regularly used by Kamehameha kids. About 20 minutes from the trail head there is a tree on which some misguided soul hanged himself some years ago. Too bad that I was told of this, as it gave me the creeps as we passed by.
After 1.5 hours, we come to the intersection with another ridge to the ridge known as the Kapalama Trail. The ridge trail continues straight ahead. After another 45 minutes, it comes to another intersection with the ridge that is a continuation of the Kamanaiki Trail. Several people say that they climbed from Kamanaiki all the way up to that point. I investigated the trail from the top, and it looks do-able, although somewhat overgrown.
Continuing on another 45 minutes, we came to a very narrow spot that we had to crawl across. Just be careful, it is not too dangerous.
After that, it is a typical Koolau climb, fairly similar to Konahuanui. It is still 2 more hours to the top. Because relatively few people go this far, the vegetation is still mostly native, and the foreign/exotic plants never have had the chance to establish themselves. The trail is also somewhat overgrown, but it is do-able, and in fact the vegetation helps because it provided handholds that allowed us to climb up fairly steep slopes.
The top looks eerily similar to the top of Bowman Trail, which climbs the ridge on the opposite side of Kalihi Valley to Kahuauli.