Looming high above Honolulu are The Koʻolau Range Mountains-mysterious, yet secretive. It is an incredible daily spectacle of light, shadows and rolling clouds. Early in the morning and during the evening hours the scenery mesmerizes even the most demanding spectator. After hiking and climbing around the world for over 30 years, I would have never thought that two of the local hikes be on my TOP 10 Worldwide list. And yet they’re! The incredibly scenic Haiku Stairs to Heaven (yes, there is a legal way!) It is almost impossible to detach yourself from the stairs, there are so many angles to take photos, one can spend countless hours absorbing the landscape around. Another local secret high above the city-The Ka’au Crater-did you know there is a crater above Honolulu? Neither did I! The incredible jungle hike, stream and waterfalls are just the prelude to the vistas above the crater. The Ka’au Crater is a mini Ngorongoro Crater minus giraffes, elephants and zebras-Sir David Attenborough would have been impressed! The island of Oahu is riddled with many interesting hikes, one can easily fill one-week trekking vacation spanning the most spectacular sites on the island
Leader: Nandor Szotak
Dates: Sept 27-31
Day 1 Sep 27 Haiku Stairs to Heaven
Altitude gain: 3,000ft
The State of Hawaii is planning to take the stairs down, so we might as well visit the place before it is gone. There is a back way up the Stairway to Heaven. This route is longer, legal and you still get to reach the viewpoint of the Haiku Stairs. You don’t actually use the stairs to reach the viewpoint, but you can still walk down the stairs for some photos before returning down the legal route. Once on stairs, the feeling is that of Dharma Experiment from Lost series-old military installation.
Day 2 Sep 28 Olomana 3 Peaks-sporty ridge hike
Hike Distance: 4.4miles
Hike Duration: 5hrs R/T
Difficulty: several rocky and exposed sections with ropes
1,850ft-ropes will be used and there is some limited exposure.
The Olomana Trail, also known as the ‘Three Peaks Hike’, on the east side of Oahu Hawaii is one of my favorite challenging hikes on the island. It’s quite technical with lots of bouldering, rope sections, and tree roots to navigate so your mind and body get quite the workout. Once you reach the first peak, the views along the ridge-line are incredible. On the backside, seeing the Ko’olau Mountain Range light up in the background with the ominous third peak in the foreground is one of the most spectacular hiking views on the island. This trail can be dangerous and isn’t for everyone but we will do it safely using ropes for protection.
Day 3 Sep 29 Easy Day! Pink Pillbox-Malili Pillbox Evening with wine, cheese and crackers
Elevation gain: 500ft
We will stive to do this hike on our last day, but if the group need an easier day between the hikes, we’ll use this hike as rest day. The plan is to spend an evening enjoying a glass of wine and spectacular sunset. It is not uncommon to see breaching whales and visits by nearby nesting Nene’s (the state bird of Hawaii)
Morning can be spent on re grouping/cleaning gear and beach or rest time
Day 4 Sep 30 Ka’au Crater Loop
Duration: 4-6 hours
Altitude gain: 2500 feet
This trail doesn’t ease you in. From the very first moment, the Ka’au Crater Trail throws you into a world of enchantment. After no more than five steps I felt like I was in the middle of the jungle, fighting for survival, on the swivel looking for wild animals. A glistening creek was lined by majestic trunks, so tall my neck hurt looking for the treetops. Dangling vines were strewn from the canopy as rays of sunlight broke through the dense foliage creating a natural theatre with a magical atmosphere.
In case of inclement weather around Ko'oloau Range, below are two back ups on the western side of the mountain (dry side)
Mount Ka’ala 4,025ft (the highest mountain on Oahu)
Difficulty: two short rocky sections with ropes
Elevation gain: 3,500ft
At just over 4,025 feet, the flat summit of Mount Ka'ala is the highest peak on Oahu. Summiting this peak is no easy task as you will be required to hike almost 7 miles, gain around 3500 Feet in elevation, and scramble up some steep and sometimes muddy inclines. However, once you will reach the top, you will be rewarded for your accomplishment with some of the best views on the island, including the West Side, Central part of the island, and Honolulu. The highest peak on Oahu, regardless of whether 4,000 feet sounds like a lot to you, there's something to be said about climbing to the highest of anything. And let me tell you, it is definitely a challenge. While there's only one short technical challenge, the roughly 3500 feet and 7 mile trek up to the summit is physically brutal. There is no doubt you will be tired after conquering this hike, but that sense of accomplishment makes it totally worth it. The summit swamp boardwalk is an incredible experience reminiscent of trekking in remote Ruwenzori Range in Uganda.
Our Back Up Hike in Case of Rain on the West Side (dry side of the Island)
Ke’au Middle Peak
Time: 5-7 HOURS
Distance: 7 MILES
Elevation Gain: 3500 FEET
Located on the West side of Oahu-the driest corner of the island. At first, the hike rolls over farmland with cows grazing around and distant noises from feral goats. Once higher up and in the dense forest, Nene’s are heard chirping around. Steep ridge is followed into the valley surrounded by cliffs and steep drop offs. The final summit ridge is a steep scramble in the forest to centrally located summit
How this works/what to expect:
Please, book your hotel or apartment in downtown Honolulu area. Every day we will pick you up from centrally located place and drop you Off in the same spot. Please note, we might be changing itinerary due to the inclement weather or team strength or abilities.
Because the local mountains can be wet and muddy, we recommend to bring several sets of clothing (one set is drying in the hotel while you hike in the new set)
Because of multitude of ropes/hand lines, and trees or branches to grab onto-we do not recommend using trekking poles.