Kuliouou Ridge Loop Trail

HARD 9 reviews
#5 of 7 trails in

Kuliouou Ridge Loop Trail is a 4.5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near East Honolulu, Hawaii that offers scenic views and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
4.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2513 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

views

muddy

no dogs

Kuliouou Ridge Loop Trail can be done starting with the west or east route. The west route is lightly used and has 2 difficult rope climbs near the top of the ridge that should only be attempted by an experienced hiker. The west route finishes at the top of Pu'u O Kona. The east ridge is moderately used and very well maintained. The 2 hikes (west and east) are connected via a very narrow ridge line that has very steep drop offs. It is common for the top to be in the clouds, and can be very windy, so caution is needed.

hiking
14 days ago

This loop is stunning. I completed it today, 11/6, in the counter-clockwise direction, beginning with the eastern portion.

After reading the reviews here, I had just about psyched myself out not to attempt the full loop; I planned to assess once I reached the “summit” (about 1.5 miles in) of the eastern portion of the loop. Turned out that the weather was ideal (no rain; not too windy), so I carried on.

Experienced hikers: this trail is demanding, but not unreasonably dangerous. There are many sections with steep drops to one side or another, but you are often hiking with a full foot (in both height and width) of thick underbrush between you and the drop, so it would take a veritable leap to clear the brush and tumble over an edge. I don’t recommend doing this hike if heights make you uncomfortable.

The section of trail between the northeast and northwest corner of the loop is essentially not maintained, which is to say it’s maintained by the boots of folks who complete this loop. I found the most dangerous part of the trail to be the fact that you can’t see your feet for long stretches, where tripping on a root could have undesirable consequences. On the counter-clockwise loop I can recall two rope-assisted ascents, and maybe six rope-assisted descents (although only half really require the rope; ascending from the west, I expect you’d need all of the ropes that are there).

I was on the trail for 3.5 hours: set out at noon, was back at my car by 3:30. I was, however, by myself, and powering through the ascents.

Take it slow, bring more water than you expect you’ll drink, and reap the benefits of the view from that northwestern section. It is unbeatable.

360 from the highest point in the loop: https://www.google.com/maps/@21.3225335,-157.7305509,0a,75y/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sAF1QipMIC-UxNVGb6xd-Pq80HvPOkhkwYVY9ImTisfSe!2e10

hiking
15 days ago

Wow. I intended to do the west loop first, but got to the trailhead before sunrise and couldn't find the unmarked entrance on the west. If you follow the paved road left at the fork, you'll come to a fenced government building. It seems like there's a small paved spot for the employees to park, and the west loop entrance is just beyond that to your right as you approach the building.

The west loop is unquestionably more difficult than the east loop. Multiple ropes will help you to climb, a couple of them were over 25 feet long. All ropes are well anchored.

The transition between the east and west loop was incredibly demanding. High winds along the narrow ridge, rain, and dense cloud cover. This section alone took almost two hours, even with two pretty experienced hikers. Wear long pants and pay close attention to where the trail leads along the top, as we lost the trail more than once in the thick foliage.

The views at the top of the east loop are absolutely breathtaking, so if you're up for a three hour hike that's incredibly rewarding, you should absolutely do the east loop.

Two adults finished the loop in six hours and drank 6L of water.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Great everyday hike. Love to take me dog here, and definitely get a nice little workout in.

3 months ago

We chose only to do the Ridge hike which was moderate. Not a very difficult hike, but the distance and the incline will make it difficult for those who are not especially athletic. The top had great views but bring some glasses because the high winds caused dust and dirt to get in our eyes. We had planned on doing the full loop but ran into a couple who said the trail was very difficult and they got stung by bees a few times and we were tired so we opted to go back the way we came. plenty of parking in the neighborhood below, just be aware of driveways and don't block them.

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

Loved this hike. Be warned that it should only be attempted by an experienced hiker. My first attempt at this hike going up the west ridge I had to turn back due to the wind and rain as I neared the top. Today while still windy, was not in the clouds and the views was amazing. I did the west route first for the loop, and the rope portions near the top of the west ridge was tricky.