Kuliouou Ridge Loop Trail

HARD 14 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.

4.5 miles
2204 feet



nature trips

trail running




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.

16 days ago

Stunning. Fantastic. Had perfect weather. You have to pay attention as the drops are big and plentiful. In the rain or high wind this would probably be really dangerous. No chance I'd bring kids on this. A moment of bad judgment would end badly.

Among the best hikes I have done. Loved it. just take it seriously.

20 days ago

We hiked this loop trail in a clockwise direction, starting with the western ridge trail, up to Pu’u O’kona then taking the Ko’olau Summit Trail east until it met up with the Kuliou’ou Ridge Trail at the overlook then headed back to the start via the state maintained Kuliou’ou Ridge Trail. I am very thankful that we hiked it in this direction as I feel it made some of the more difficult sections of it less dangerous. This was our second hike of New Year’s Day so we were hiking on tired legs, our first hike having been Koko Crater Rail Stairs at midnight for fireworks viewing.

It’s a demanding hike with several steep, crumbly rock sections, many of which offer ropes to assist in the more difficult or dangerous sections. The western Ridge Trail is a bit overgrown as plant roots and foliage frequently ensnarled our feet & ankles tripping us up a bit along the way. In two areas ropes had been severed making it a bit more challenging to navigate those areas, requiring some creativity to keep your balance on steep, crumbly rock. There were also two areas on the Ko’olau Summit Trail crossover section that had experienced recent land slides cutting away/undermining the trail stability. Take extra prudence in those areas because one false move could send you easily tumbling a couple hundred feet off a cliff toward Waimanalo.

Views are pretty spectacular along this loop once you reach the ridgeline, providing unimpeded views of Diamond Head, Maunalua Bay, Koko Crater, Koko Head, Makapu’u, Manana (Rabbit) Island, Waimanalo, Kailua, Olomana’s triple peaks. K1, K2, and the breathtaking Ko’olau Mountains.

This is a physically demanding trail, offering great views, heart racing moments, & excellent workout opportunities. I would absolutely not recommend this for children or individuals with a fear of heights as there are several quite dangerous areas along the route, where you may find yourself grabbing at tall grasses or underbrush/bush roots to simply prevent yourself from falling off cliffs. We recommend microspikes for the KST crossover section especially for extra security on muddy/moist trails. This outing took us four hours but we stopped frequently for photos and hiked a bit further off the loop trail for some additional photos and parked about a mile away from the trail head and included that distance in the hiking time. Had we hiked at our normal, healthy pace and stuck specifically to the loop route we could have finished this in around 2-1/2-3 hours in dry, clear weather conditions. Loved this trail!

1 month ago

Great views, not for anyone scared of heights.
Took 3 h and 16 min. We keept a good pace going up but we took it easy on the way down

A few tips
- Alot of brush that is hip high. Recommand pants cause it is brutal for bare skin. Got a lot of nicks.
- We took the east way up and the west down. It seemed to be better to do it the other way around. A lot of places where it is pretty slippery cause of leaves and fallen down pine

2 months 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

2 months 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.

4 months ago

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

5 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.

6 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.

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