Waimano Ridge Trail is a 6.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Pearl City, HI that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.
This is a very diverse trail with a combination of manmade ditch structures, natural streams, ridge crossings, and switchbacks. Segment 1: The Tunnels The start of the trail is graded and wide. It traverses a long fence at the start and finally turns into the reserve with a view towards Pearl Harbor and Waianae. Don't forget to take the right fork in order to stay on the main trail. Taking the left fork will traverse a shorter loop hike into the valley. Continuing on the main trail on the right will take you past the many Waimano ditches and tunnels. Some dry enough for you to walk through (watch your head). On passing tunnel #7 the trail will drop down to cross a feeder stream. Once you cross, look back to see tunnel #8. Climb up and forward, you will then see the state hiking sign. Going left will take you through tunnel #9 (one of the longest) while going right walks you past the tunnel. Both will meet back up just before the #17 scout rest post BSA Kamehameha District Post 540. Segment 2: The Valley Stream Nature From the scout rest post, take the trail heading down into the valley. There are three more tunnels that are less visible, plus a number of ditch features. The trail will also cross Waimano stream and take a series of switchbacks that start to gain elevation. This area is a beautiful respite featuring giant fan palm, huge stands of tall royal palm trees, lots of great koa trees, and steep drop-offs to the stream below. It also houses lots of endemic and foreign birds alike (e.g. sharma, apapane, and amahiki). Phase 3: The Neverending Switchbacks At this point the path begins to narrow and can be fairly overgrown if not recently maintained. The trees are smaller and Ohia is in abundance. It was good to see the many Ohia species - from the rossette, to common red, and yellow/orange too. Keep a look out for the Lobelia and Ko'li'i. Although, it always seems like yet another switchback, take the time to enjoy the cool mountain breezes and clouds. Sounds of water will gurgle up to the swtichbacks as you wonder where is the KST. Once you reach the summit terminus the view of Waihe'e Valley, Kaneohe Bay, and Kualoa is very rewarding. We didn't get to see it this time as we were socked in with rain and forced to turn back before reaching it.
The whole trail is easily 14+ miles! I made it to mile 6.5 before having to turn back due to time constraints. I was extremely lucky to run on a dry day. the first 5 miles are full of technical single track trail with uneven, rocky, and muddy terrain, but are still runable as long as you have hiking poles for stability. There are multiple spots where you could lose balance easily and fall a great distance down. After mile 5, however, the trail is so overgrown, wet, and slippery(spots of smooth,wet rock are common) that I was forced to walk slowly. I am certain I was within 1 mile of the summit, but I had already reached my 3hour climb limit and had to turn around. I was chasing daylight towards the end. 5 and a half hours with breaks for food and pictures.
Beautiful views. We followed the pink ribbons. Only hiked 4 miles in then turned around because of time. We wanted to find the Falls but couldn't. It was a strenuous hike with lots of mud. Enough terrain changes to make it fun. Few parts where the path narrows but there are ropes and never felt terrifying, just exciting. Narrow enough though that I wouldn't recommend it for kids. We only encountered 2 other people. Very peaceful and well marked. Would have been 5 stars but we were disappointed we couldn't find the falls.
Loved this hike for the first 5 miles in! This is a 15+ mile hike if you continue on the ridge and don't just do the loop. First 5 miles have irrigation tunnels to explore, beautiful clean creek, gorgeous flora and the sounds of dozens of different kinds of birds. Bring a flashlight if you think of it and bug spray.
After 5 or 6 miles the trail is poorly maintained, very muddy and very slippery. I wished I had brought my hiking stick and worn chains or better tennis shoes/hiking boots. We stopped shy of the summit by probably less than .5 miles. It was too rainy/cloudy for a view and our Fitbits said we should have already been at the top, I was tired, covered in mud, scratched and banged up from slipping and tripping over roots and ferns. NOTE: expert hikers probably would have zero trouble! Or would have been slightly better equipped.
I would have given this trail 5 stars if the end had been better maintained! Still loved it. I recommend hiking 5 miles in, picnicking, then hiking back unless you are an expert hiker or just someone that HAS to see the end and it is a clear day that will payoff with amazing views. That's okay if you are :)
This trail is very beautiful. If you plan on camping at the Boy Scout shelter, you can bypass it easily if you go through the tunnels (I forget which one) as it passes directly under the camp. It really is the only place to camp. We missed it when we went and got caught way past it and then it got dark. Had to camp directly on the trail.
A great quiet trail with next to nobody on it during the weekdays. Push quickly through the first few miles to get yourself in a beautiful variety of vegetation. BE CAREFUL of your footing as sections can get wet and slick with exposure that falling the wrong direction could be 100+ feet down into a riverbed. You can take both sides of the upper and lower portions during the beginning to up the trail length to 15 miles. Plenty of pigs running around on this one as well.
My girlfriend and I decided to climb down to waimano falls and phew was it a hike! Beautiful scenery, and honestly all you can hear around you is the jungle. On the way back was probably the hardest due to the vertical hiking up the mountain, but it makes you feel great afterwards. The falls are gorgeous and you can swim in all 3 pools
This hike is 14+ miles. You can start with the Upper or Lower trailhead (clearly marked at the beginning). These two connect after about 1.5 miles on each side, hence makin the "loop". The loop hike is kid and dog friendly.
For the ridge hike, I took the Upper trailhead. The trail is well marked throughout. I crossed 2 heavy streams within the first few miles. After mile 3 the trail isn't very well maintained. After mile 5 it's not really maintained at all. The last 2 miles are very narrow... putting one foot directly in front of the other, winding the mountain-sides. Then it happens... you turn a corner at reach the end. AMAZING view!! Worth every muddy, tiring, draining step.
The hike down was challenging because a small storm hit. I was soaked. I ran out of water at mile 9 (I started with 110 ounces). By the time I got back to my car, a whole day had passed. Worth every second though.
You can get a camping permit from DLNR for this trail, but it says you must stay within 10 feet of the pathway. However, after mile 2 (where there's the one and only shelter), there's no place off the trail... its extremely narrow. Even at the top, it's a small, steep, area, overlooking a 2,000 ft. ledge. So I don't see how anyone camps along this trail.
I suggest you bring things like an emergency blanket, plenty of water and food, a knife, etc., just in case the weather were to trap you out there for the night.