Mount Kaala Trail

HARD 48 reviews
#1 of 3 trails in

Mount Kaala Trail is a 6.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Waianae, HI that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking and rock climbing and is accessible year-round.

6.7 miles 5670 feet Out & Back

hiking

rock climbing

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

old growth

over grown

rocky

scramble

At more than 6 miles and 5,000ft of elevation gain it's one of the most difficult hikes on the O'ahu but it's worth the work to ascend to the highest point on the island. From certain points there are amazing views of the Waianae Valley and Coastline and of the North Shore.

5 days ago

hope you've kept your cardio up and haven't skipped leg day. it's a smoker until you hit the ropes make sure you check the forecast and start early In the morning, well before sunrise if you want a decent view. it's about 3 hrs up and down so make sure to pack a lunch and snacks that are light on the stomach. and take about 2 liters of water as well.

6 days ago

it's a pretty good endurance hike. if you don't do cardio much. your lungs are going to be hurting until you hit the rope climb

hiking
13 days ago

Amazing views, go on a dry day and be prepared for a lot of hiking using ropes. We did this in just over five hours and normally this length and elevation would take us about four hours. We're pretty fast hikers, but the ropes will slow you down no matter what.

We got to the top and the trail ended at an Air Force installation, there was a sign that said End if Trail. There wasn't any 360 view of the island or anything, but the views on the way up were incredible and you hike straight up the side of a really steep mountain so it made it a ton of fun. One of my favorite hikes I've ever done because of the views, technicality of the trail, variable terrain, the ridgeline, and the ropes that take you straight up what looks like a cliff from a distance.

15 days ago

18 days ago

hiking
21 days ago

Lovely hike requiring good fitness and a reduced fear of heights. Trail is well marked and it is easy to stay on route. Begin at parking area at end of Waianae Valley Rd. The first mile of hiking is on a paved, one lane road, climbing 800 feet to Waianae Well No 2. A trail passes a picnic table and follows a low ridge, makes a sharp left where signed, and crosses a dry stream. Keep left after the stream crossing and follow purple caps, paint and ribbon. Trail climbs steadily and steepness increases. The lower areas are filled with guava trees, which are quite slippery when they cover the ground. The upper part of this section ends with a couple of rope climbs, where the trail meets a pig fence and turns right; elevation 2700 feet. The trail now follows a ridge to the east, climbing less steeply until it reaches a couple of boulder patches, elev 3280 feet, protected by ropes. These are the hardest elements of the climb for one without bouldering or rock experience. Study the rock and find the best route. There are reasonable ways up both. The trail now climbs steeply and ropes are provided to assist with most of the next five hundred vertical feet. After one reaches the crater, the path becomes gentler, and soon becomes a wooden boardwalk. The great views are easier reached from the north side of the USAF installation, so when facing gate, go left, following the fence, to the high point and the views to the north and east. Bring gloves for the downhill on the ropes, as it is easier to slide down the rope. Gloves are less important on the way up. The path is muddy, especially at higher elvations even when dry below. It is very slippery. Not a good hike for a rainy day. Watch the weather. This is a fine hike and takes about seven hours when not in a hurry. I went alone and found a dozen other people on the trail on a weekend day. It is easy to slip and fall on the descent, so its unwise to do this without a companion.

hiking
1 month ago

I appreciate all the great comments here.
I've done Kaala several times. It's my favorite climb on Oahu. That's because it's the highest elevation - 4,026 ft above sea level according to many sources. Since you start pretty close to sea level it's like doing forteeners in Colorado - going from 10k to 14k feet vertical ascent-wise but there's a huge difference to me in that the air is thicker and the average elevation lower so I never get close to any sort of dehydration or elevation queasiness on a Kaala climb. I agree it's a good idea to take some water, and a good map and be careful to follow it. The times I've been up there I seldom ever see anyone, never an locals, only "world travelers" that do this sort of climbing all over the places. In terms of special treats, there usually is a large field of strawberry guavas to forage at the lower end of the hike. One book guide recommends a pair of leather gloves which I agree with, for a certain unusual prickly stickers zone about 3/4 the way up. There are some steep areas with ropes. There's one place with a rock face that echos near the top. The best approach in my opinion is from the Waianae side. I've always taken an old beater car because you have to park in a place where locals may steal, strip or burn your vehicle if it looks like it runs. Near the bottom you may encounter pig hunters. The view at the top is pretty awesome. From a distance the top looks long and flat. That's because it's the main tallest biggest caldera remains on the island. It's a crater about 1 mile across, filled in with a bog. There's a boardwalk so you don't sink down and you are required to stay on it. It's so high there's a lot of endemic plants and, if you are lucky, birds such as the apapane. If you're in fairly good shape the hike is easy. I agree it's about 7 hour trip unless you are really pumped. Aloha ʻĀina

1 month ago

backpacking
2 months ago

Anybody want to hike this on Monday with me? text me if you do 636 399 1623

hiking
2 months ago

Very gratifying hike great views and takes you to the highest point on the island. Be sure to bring plenty of water it is very hot hike.

3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

Hard with some challenging technical areas. Good gradual elevation change. Can definitely be muddy, be sure to watch the weather. Would also suggest gloves. 2.5 to 3 hours up with great views!

3 months ago

Looking for a hiking partner for this one soon as possible

4 months ago

Looking for some ppl who would like to do this trail together..
Txt me on 8087291997

Andrea-Fabian

hiking
4 months ago

Definitely one of the hardest hiked I've been on, as far as the hike goes you don't need to be the most experienced hiker but definitely need to know your limits and would recommend going with a partner but overall a great hike the view is worth the struggle

hiking
4 months ago

Hi guys. i was thinking of attempting this trail on Tues and was wandering for those ppl who has been on it..would u recommend it to a solo hiker? i just did Mt Fuji, Japan summit by myself but there was other hikers along the way. what are the chances of me seeing someone on the trail on a weekday? Thnx for ur feedback.

hiking
4 months ago

We were lucky with the weather, there were amazing views from the summit. There are two intimidating rope sections, but they aren't as bad as they look. Only 4 stars because of the satellite installation at the summit. The cloud forest is beautiful.

5 months ago

Hard...definitely not for the faint at heart!

hiking
5 months ago

This trail is not for everyone. I've hiked it twice now and it was raining and muddy both times. Today I counted 14 ropes that you have to climb to get up it also. These start at the 2 hour mark and continue until you reach the summit. The views are amazing once you reach the top though. 360 degrees of nothing but beauty. One word of caution, go when there are no clouds at the top, otherwise you'll be stuck in the clouds with zero visibility at the top and most likely rain. The weather up top is different than the weather in Waianae.

hiking
5 months ago

Uff da. This is a hard one. Getting there is thankfully easy. The beginning, where you hike on a steeply graded concrete road sucks. It's just a really boring path at that point. The true adventure begins once you've passed the 2nd pump house. The description says 5000 ft of elevation gain, but the official height of Mt. Ka'ala is ~4000 ft. so take that how you will. It rains here a lot so be prepared, my five-finger shoes work great on dry hikes but are miserable for muddy hikes. The other reviews are spot on for markers, follow the purple and you'll be fine. There are two spots where there is a rope used to climb up an obstacle. Not too hard, though. Eventually you'll come to a fence (no clue how they got it up there!). This is where I believe Bolo ridge meets Hobbs Ridge. You head east at this junction. You *will* rely heavily on this fence. The fence will turn north and head downhill at some point. After that the trail is rather more treacherous. The drops on either side of you are at least 1000 ft and the path is never more than 1 person wide. Next up is a large, vertical boulder/hill with a rope. This is challenging, good upper body strength is required. After that is a sheer cliff. My friend and I stopped here. To go further one needs serious rock climbing gear plus the requisite experience. It is just a series of cliffs and brief flat tops until you reach, presumably, the Ka'ala bog at the top. That is, unless there is some secret path that doesn't require vertical ascent.