Very Difficult Trails on Oahu

Very Difficult Trails on Oahu

Contributed by Wing Ng

I've collected a list of trails that are _not_ mentioned in Stuart Ball's authoritative hiking book on Oahu. Most of them are difficult, or very difficult, but all of them have been done by someone, except for one VVD ...., so far. All the VD ones are life-threatening. It was last posted in 1995, and some updates are made for 1996.


This is the ridge that bisects Niu Valley. It is quite easy, but access was difficult. But now there is an empty lot one can pass through. This trail was cleared in Jan. 1996, and was done by the hiking club. It is now fairly easy. There is a cable at one steep spot.


This is an old trail not hiked for decades, but was opened up in June this year. It parallels the Laie Trail to the Koolau summit. This has been done at least twice. Hikers go up on this trail, traverse using the Koolau Summit Trail, and then go down Laie Trail. Hiking club people plan to clear it better maybe in 1996.

LANIHULI [Moderate]

This is the peak between the Pali and Likelike highways. There is an opening near the top of Alewa Drive, and then a well-defined trail. The trail all the way to the top is in fairly good shape, indicating that people use it occasionally. There is a very narrow section about 2 hours from the top, but one just has to be careful. The problem is one is trespassing on Bishop Estate land. There is another way, up Kamanaiki Trail, go on more, and join the Lanihuli ridge, which bypasses Bishop land. It is much longer and not cleared to date, but may be cleared in the near future.


Go inside Kahana Valley. There is a gentle ridge that becomes very steep, which ascends one of the side ridges of the pyramidal peak. This has been done in Oct. 1995. The hiking club will do this trail in the summer of 1996, but only up to the saddle of the ridge separating Kahana and Waikane valleys. The ascent to Ohulehule itself relies on a slippery 30-year-old steel cable, which is quite dangerous.


The entire Koolau Range can be done, except for Moanalua to Keahiakahoe, and the valleys of Pali and Likelike highways. There is a built Summit Trail from Pupukea to Kipapa. Very few people have done Kipapa to Manana, and from Waimano to Halawa. This was done from Laie to Poamoho in May 1995. It is now included in Stuart Ball's new book on backpacking on Oahu.


They start from the Papali Trail and the Sacred Falls Trail respectively, and join eventually to get on a ridge to get to a junction with Castle Trail. Was opened up to look for Johnson the lost hiker, and is right now only Moderate. This was done twice, in 1995 and 1996. Hiking club scheduled this hike in 1996, from Sacred Falls, but officially did not go down Castle, because it is forbidden by Bishop Estate.

PEAHINAIA [Difficult]

This one is just super-long and with hundreds of ups and downs. Bishop Estate took back the land, and it is now officially closed.


This was built by Mr. Castle's money, and he also built Castle Trail in Punaluu. It started near the top of Mt. Olympus, traverses at about 2,200 feet contour on the leeward side of the Koolaus, and then reaches the trail that goes up from Nuuanu Lookout to Konahuanui. The hiker then returns via Manoa Cliffs Trail. There is said to be a cabin in the middle. This was last done 50 years ago, during the war, by Dick Booth and Joe Neilson, who, because of the length of time elapsed, could not remember the location where the trail joins the Konahuanui Trail. The starting point of the trail on the Olympus side was re-discovered on Memorial Day 1996, but the trail on the Konahuanui side remains to be re-discovered, and the trail itself, some 5-6 miles long, is totally overgrown and remains to be cleared.


At the top of Poamoho there is a very steep ridge that goes down to Punaluu Valley.


This used to be a main trail, but was closed because of Army live- ammunition practice.


The entire Waianae can be traversed from Makakilo to Kaena Point, except for a cliff section at Pohakea Pass. The section between Kaua and Kanehoa is very difficult but is do-able.

WAIAU [Difficult]

This begins at the top of Hapaki St. in Waimalu. It is a very easy trail except that it is totally overgrown near the top. People contemplate going up Waimano, traverse to the top of Waiau (which is only half an hour and quite easy), and then come down Waiau. It should be easier to go down only one way. People contemplate doing this in 1996.


At the end of the Waimalu Valley trail, ascend the ridge bisecting the valley. This was semi-cleared recently. The top is truly, almost mythically, breathtaking, breathtaking being literally so because the gales howl at that location. Almost ten people have done this, on 3 separate occasions. It is hoped that more people will do this wonderful trail, to keep it open.

KANEHOALANI [Very difficult]

There are two ridges from the south side that were done, but they are both super-extremely dangerous. Al Miller and Charlotte Yamane did this couple years ago.

KAWIWI [Very difficult]

The connector between the top of Kamaileunu and the three poles near where Lowrance was rescued two weeks ago. Extremely difficult cliffs.

KEAAU-OHIKILOLO [Very difficult]

There are various ways to go up Keaau Ridge, all of which on private land. The most direct route starts from a water tank near the entrance of Makaha Valley that leads up a very steep side ridge. The Keaau ridge eventually joins Ohikilolo Ridge, and there is a spectacular dike and then an extremely dangerous steep climb. Al Miller and Fred Dodge have done this several years ago.


After meandering in the Waianae Valley, one ascends a no-name ridge to reach the ridge connecting Kaala and Kalena. It is extremely steep. Fred Dodge and friends did this several years ago.

NANAKULI-PALIKEA [Very difficult]

Start by climbing Heleakala, and continue on the ridge. It eventually climbs an extremely steep section to reach Palikea. One woman climbed Heleakala and her car broke down. She lives in Makakilo, and so she decided to climb Palikea and then walk home! Fred Dodge and friends did this several years ago.

OLOMANA 3RD PEAK [Very difficult]

Going to Olomana 1st, 2nd, and 3rd peaks is hard enough, but going down the 3rd peak is super-difficult.

PILIWALE [Very difficult]

An extremely steep ridge that descends from Konahuanui to the Windward side. Many people have done this. It was pioneered by Silver Piliwale years ago.

PUU O KONA WINDWARD [Very difficult]

There is an extremely steep ridge that descends from Puu O Kona to the Windward side. That ridge splits in two and both are do-able, just extremely difficult. Fred Dodge and friends did this several years ago.

MANAMANA [Very, very difficult]

This is the not very high peak that is beyond the Puu Manaman Trail. There are said to be five routes to climb it, but nobody has done it yet, to my knowledge. Al Miller and Charlotte Yamane attempted this several years ago, several times, but failed, several hundred horizontal feet from the top, when a rock dislodged and almost hit Yamane on the head.

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