Kea'au Middle Ridge is a 5.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Waianae, Oahu, Hawaii that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is accessible year-round.

Length5.9 miElevation gain2,693 ftRoute typeOut & back
HikingNature tripsWalkingForestViewsWildflowersWildlifeBugsRockyScrambleHistoric siteNo dogs
Description
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Kea'au Middle Ridge is located at the back of Ohikilolo Valley. It is accessed through the Kea'au Homesteads Road that leads to the Our Lady of Kea'au St. Francis Retreat Center. Before entering the center, there is parking in the turn out and a dirt road through a metal gate straight ahead (gate closes at 7pm). The trail begins here continuing on the dirt road to the back of the valley. Follow the DLNR markers which are mostly right turns for about a mile till you reach the dead end of the 4WD road and the true hiking trail begins. This trail starts out in a forested wood and steadily climbs up the middle ridge. There are lost of Silver Oaks, Ohia and Koa trees. Elevation is quickly gained and soon it opens up to an exposed ridge line marked by dikes and karsts. Travel carefully as some sections are very narrow and the rock is loose. There are three sections of hills and saddles before reaching a wall that looks impassable. There is a contour trail that then leads right and through the trees, steeply climbing to gain another ridge to the final hills to the top. If you think the first false peak is challenging, then know that there is yet another to the top just as equally challenging if not more. Be ready for a lot of rock scrambling and ropes. Sometime the path is not straight up but a little sideways too. When you finally reach the top it is well worth it. From here you are now on Kea'au Ridge overlooking Makaha Valley. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the north shore, past Mount Ka'ala, west to Kaena, and to the south east to Ko'olina.

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Reviews (112)
Photos (156)
Activities (98)
Completed (185)
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Julie Wallace
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HikingGreat!

I did this trail last week. Not an easy trail and many scrambling moments. Several ropes used for uphill and downhill travel. Trail is marked with tiny orange to pink ribbons. I would highly recommend downloading the all trails map. We didn’t get lost but had to reorient several times. For those afraid of heights, be prepared for scary moments. The ridge going up is super steep on both sides. On the way going up it was dry. The views from the top are well worth the hike. We met some other hikers at the top who left before us and they ended up on a different ridge on the way down. We were yelling at them from the other ridge to provide some sort of direction. This is why it is important to have the downloaded map. On the way down it started to drizzle and it was a bit terrifying considering any fall down the muddy slippery slope could be fatal. The hike down was a slippery muddy mess. Luckily the ropes were grippy. I slipped a few times and once grabbed a tree branch just in time to hold me from falling. It is definitely a doable hike but it is worth taking it slow, have caution and be aware that with rain the hike is tricky. We all truly felt accomplished. My experience prior to this hike?.......Lifelong Oregonian, completed the GR 20 in Corsica and have a pretty extensive outdoor resume for a 47 year old.

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Steffen Kelly
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Hiking

Not for the faint of heart. There is some pretty gnarly vert that is mostly captured towards the end of the hike so you’re calves will be burning. Conditions as of today were incredibly slick and muddy. It made for some treacherous climbing and descending along with many many falls.

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Judy L
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Hiking
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Sage Thurmond
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Hiking
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Keola Makaiau
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Hiking
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Sara Zhukovsky
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HikingOff trailOver grownScramble

Highly suggest downloading trail map and not doing this hike alone. Challenging and fun to go up, lots of rope scrambles (some are flimsy so be careful). Super rewarding 360 views at the top. The problem is coming down. We followed the pink markers to a path that was super treacherous and completely overgrown with no clear path. The markers were so sparse at the steep point (after the scrambles) that we got lost after every marker. Took us four hours to get down and felt completely lost the whole time, with no cell service and had finished our two bottles of water each before we even began our descent.

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Casey Jones
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 30, 2021
Hiking

THIS RECORDING IS FOR OHIKILOLO RIDGE TO KEAU MIDDLE RIDGE. Right before the water tank that signifies you are able to start Ke'au, you will go left and up. The markers will tell you differently. You will follow a path to a gate that is next to a hunting stand. Go over the gate and follow the overgrown path. Once you get to the connecting ridge, you can make your own path until you get to the fence, or follow the somewhat marked footpath for the best route. You will need to cross the fence a few times as the fence line has fallen in a few spots. Markings along the fence show you the best place to do that. At the top, you will follow the ridge along the fence line east until you get to a gate that fences the cabin. You will need to skim the cabin to the West to get back on path. Cross the fence and head down the crumbly saddle. At the base of the saddle, you will need some good scrambling experience to pass the crossover. Once you cross that, you will follow a fairly overgrown ridge up to Ke'au. Once you get up there, you've made it. Now enjoy a nice descent on the fairly graded Ke'au Middle Ridge.

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Lana Alicata
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Rock climbing

Woah! Up up and up! Made it up in 2.5 -3 hours and back down in like 45 min. Beautiful view at the top. Ran into 3 other groups.

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Germ Bimpembo
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Hiking
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Liam Bryan
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Hiking

Very little shade. certainly earns it's hard rating, but doable if you leave yourself enough time.

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Richard Curtis
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HikingGreat!Over grownRockyScramble

As many others have noted, this is a challenging uphill climb on varying terrain that rewards with incredible views at the top. Definitely have your maps downloaded before you go, bring lots of water, good shoes, and pace yourself. Didn’t see a single other person out there. The trail at times was a bit difficult to follow (yes there are pink markers) but after the first major ridge line there is a traverse in dense trees that is easy to lose track of). There are plenty of ropes but always give them a solid tug before putting all your weight onto them - no clue how regularly these are swapped out or what they’re anchored to in some cases. Coming from Colorado I definitely had a bit of a nonchalant attitude but this ass kicker of a hike had my legs and lungs burning and a newfound respect for hiking in Hawaii. This one is hard, but the views from the top are some of the best on Oahu.

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Evan M
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HikingGreat!No shade
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Weiyi Li
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Hiking

Oh man what a journey! A great amount of joy (and pain of course)! To me descending is much more challenging than ascending. Maybe it’s my lacking balance skill or my shoes. Spent 3 hours descending to car, luckily before 7pm. Thanks to those who left ropes on it. Very helpful!

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Tatiana Anders
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Hiking

Totally wanted to cry a few times on the way up, but was sooo worth it in the end!

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John Walther
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HikingGreat!

A great hike. Def gets steep and requires some upper and lower body climbing, but well worth it! Amazing 360 degree views from the top! The gate off of the main road opens at 7am. You can drive in from there and park on road outside of convent. From there follow the Jeep trail in till the trail veers off. Gloves might be helpful with the ropes.

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Scott Izett
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarDecember 11, 2020
Hiking

Hot! Didn’t make the peak, turned around at the ridge before. Seemed foolish to continue solo. Want to come back and finish!

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Aaron Richards
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 4, 2020
HikingGreat!No shadePrivate propertyScramble

Underrated hike IMO. Loved traversing the saddle ridge. The most challenging part is the steep incline at the end after you pass the saddle. But the views of Mt. Ka’ala and the North Shore/Leeward Side are worth it. Make sure to bring a good amount of water.

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Mike M
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 24, 2020
HikingGreat!

The elevation change makes this hike brutal. It starts off a little steep and gets progressively steeper. The lower 2/3 is easy. It adds ropes as it gets steeper. Lots of shade. Well maintained. The views are great. I parked on Kea’au Homestead Road just before the cattle gate. Most of the hike is on public hunting grounds. I went on an unusually cool day but I know that area can get awfully hot.

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Katia Perreira
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Hiking

Wiw, steep but fun.

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August Kryger
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarNovember 14, 2020
RunningGreat!

A little bit of a tough climb at the top, but worth the views. You can connect over to the left after the summit for some high-level fun that leads to a cabin and "outhouse" on the mountain. But be careful!

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Melanie Park
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 8, 2020
HikingGreat!Scramble

The view at the very top was so worth it. Don’t quit early. Go all the way up. Pink markers are sparse so keep going up if you’re unsure. We parked at the beach and walked into the gated area on paved road since there’s very little parking at the start of this “trail”. We started at 6:30am (to avoid midday heat) and the gate to Our Lady of Kea’au was locked. We hopped the fence only to realize that they were on their way to unlock the gate around 7am! Whoops.

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