Laie Summit Trail is a 12.1 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Laie, Hawaii that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.
This one direction 6 mile trail connects to the Koolau Summit Trail on a ridge that sits between Ihi'ihi and Kahanawainui gulches. It shares a common start with the more popular Laie Falls Trail at the back of Po'oha'ili Street. A permit to access the trail is required. Formerly known before World War II as Wailele Trail, this gradually ascending contour ridge hike sits between Ihi'ihi and Kahanawainui gulches. It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corp between 1934-35 to connect to the Kao'olau Summit Trail. The original trail head starts after a drive on a 4WD road at the stand of Cook Pines. Today, the access to the trail head has been pushed back to Po'oha'ili Street due to private land ownership and farming. What used to be a 6 mile total round trip hike is now 12 miles due to this change in access. The first section leading up to the Cook pines is now a multi-use location for mountain bikers, horseback riders, hikers and runners alike. This area is open with many red dirt scrambling hilly sections. It was also an area that previously used to be used for practice shelling during WWII. From the Cook pines the trail traverses a series of hills though not creating any roller coaster effect. Its ascend is gradual and shaded by strawberry guava. This section can be slippery and muddy, as there are a few dry stream crossings (more like high rain run-offs). Past the trail split to Laie Falls to the summit, the trail somewhat overgrown. It changes into an open side contour trail with expansive views of Ihi'ihi gulch on the left. Past the bottom of a 65ft sheer cliff drop to the trail, it switches through a saddle to views on the right of Kahanawainui gulch. Towards the top there are also sections of cloud forests with old Ohia and lobelia growth with many Loulou palm stands along the way. The trail joins the Ko'olau Summit trail just below the highest point. Scramble up the hill and on a clear day you will be rewarded with 360 degree open and clear views of the Wai'anae Range, the North Shore, and east.
Intense hike. Expect to spend 6-8 hours on this trail. Amazing views from the summit. Make sure you have clear skies and a few days of dry weather preceding the hike. Otherwise you'll be ankle deep in mud for some of the more technical parts of the trail.