Hi Fiona, this trail rarely gets any visitors especially on the ridge top. Are you familiar with Wailupe Loop? It is very similiar to this one, it starts at the end of Hao St, goes up the ridge and returns back via Wiliwilinui ridge. The Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club ( HTMC) is going in Feb 5th . It should be well cleared by then. Happy Trails !
Cat's review is right on the money. However, when I went today the trail was completely overgrown even 1/4 way into it. Despite the overgrown trail, this was a fun hike. The rope was sturdy but definitely test it out as with any rope. The black strap covering the cables is still there. Go on a sunny day and it's hardly muddy at all!
Although this trail is only just about 6 miles long, it will feel like doing a mini Manana Trail(!) Kulepeamoa ridge is in the back of Niu Valley. It splits the valley into two sub-valleys with Pia Valley Stream on the left and Kupaua Valley Stream on the right. This trail starts the end of Anolani Street, and takes you past high California grass, before dropping to the Pia Valley Stream. This stream is always dry unless there is some real big rain at the Koolaus. The trail then ascends Kulepeamoa Ridge. Be prepared for a good steep climb, but you will be rewarded with clear views of the valley and lots of growing sandalwood.
The ridge itself is a nice contrast of pine trees, to guava, then to Ohia and Uluhe. It is a bit of a rollercoaster with some fairly narrow sections. As you approach the KST, there is a rope section that requires the rope in order to ascend. There is a good new black tape rope besides the existing printer cables(!) Its well secured at the top, but as always test before using.
The last section will work your legs, especially if it is muddy. Once at the top we had great 360 views of Waimanalo, Hawaii Kai/Koko Head, Honolulu, the airport coral reef runway, Olomana, Kailua, and Kaneohe. There were a ton of bugs at the summit so we didn't stay long and proceeded on the KST towards Hawaii Loa Ridge terminus. There were three hills along the way on the KST - so it was a bit of a muddy slip and slide. Quite fun if you don't mind the mud!
Once at the Hawaii Loa, it was an easy way down to the guava junction. This section was a slip and slide grabbing guava trees all the way to the valley. Once in Pia Valley, it was hard to find the trail as there were many big tree blown downs. So we just followed the dry stream bed till we found the trail again. There were a number of dry pools - that would be nice when the water flows and an interesting rock wall on the west bank. This section then connects back to the ridge junction and we found our way back out to the water tank.