Manana Ridge Trail to Ko'olau Summit

HARD 5 reviews
#6 of 6 trails in

Manana Ridge Trail to Ko'olau Summit is a 9.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Pearl City, Hawaii that features a waterfall. The trail is rated as difficult and primarily used for hiking and nature trips. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
9.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3487 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

old growth

over grown

rocky

scramble

hiking
9 days ago

Great trail, overgrown and muddy starting around mile 4. There's also a unique acoustic area by the dry waterfall

2 months ago

This is a tough one - I rate it very difficult and recommend only for experienced hikers who are looking for a challenge. However, if you are just after a pleasant walk with some lovely views of south-central Oahu, go do only the first 2.5-3 miles. It's lovely and safe for dogs and/or children, and you can carry a snack out to the picnic table that is located around 2 miles out. You'll follow a paved path, then a wide dirt road, skip the right-hand turn-off to the waterfall, ignore the "Trail Impassable" sign, and travel through some cool red-dirt formations and finally a cool, grassy path. There's plenty of strawberry guava to enjoy along mile 2, ripe around August and September.

Running/walking shoes would be fine for the first two miles, but after that you need real hiking shoes with strong tread. If you're planning to summit, bring/wear pants for miles 3-7 and a light jacket. There's cold wind and killer underbrush up on the ridges. If planning to summit, attempt on a day when there's a 0-10% chance of precipitation and it did NOT rain the previous day or two. Even with no forecast of rain, you're likely to get sprinkled on up there. If it's cloudy, you won't be able to see a thing and may have to turn back. Go on a super clear and sunny day.

You'll know when the real hike starts - after passing through the strawberry guava and seeing lots of lovely white and purple orchids in a windblown pass, you'll head up a long steep hill and find yourself out of breath for the first time. The rest of the hike will be like this (but harder) for about another 2.5-3 miles, for a total of 5-ish miles out and 5-ish miles back. I wish I had counted the number of peaks you ascend and descend as you approach the summit - there are many; it must be in the double digits. Up, down, up, down, gradually requiring more use of the hands and arms, gradually getting muddier, and as you near the summit, more of the ridges become frighteningly narrow and you find yourself clinging to ferns for dear life. The wind is very strong on top of these ridges and you may even need to just hunker down when the big gusts come.

Speaking of the ferns...the trail is pretty overgrown once you hit the third mile and the underbrush will DESTROY your legs if you don't have some pants or tall socks for protection. The first part of the hike is hot, though, so even if you don't want to wear pants the whole way, I definitely recommend bringing some for the second and third phase of the hike. (See my photo. I was desperate. I always read all of the reviews but somehow nobody had mentioned the need for pants.)

Bring tons of water and many snacks high in protein and carbs - you're gonna burn tons of fuel on this climb. There's not any bouldering and the ropes are not essential to the climbs, but they are helpful. The trail is not as well maintained as many on Oahu, and you need to be prepared for that. You may want to wear/bring spikes for your shoes. While there is concern about these destroying the foliage, the foliage on this trail is thriving and there's a lot of mud, so I found myself wishing I had some spikes, even though I had on high-quality hiking boots with excellent tread.

I rarely rate trails lower than a 4 or 5 because I love them all. However, the dense underbrush and apparent lack of trail maintenance made this one really difficult and prompted me to give it a 3.5, although I did enjoy it and plan to do it again.

hiking
2 months ago

This was the longest hike I've ever done in my life.
If you're willing to give a good 10 hours of your day for the hike then do it.
I would definitely recommend tons of water as I ran out coming back and was very dehydrated. Also bring good shoes and you'll need it for the muddy ridge and steep rock climbing rope parts.
The entire hike is more like 20 miles round trip.
I spent a total of 9 hours on the hike starting from 8AM to 5PM.
There likely will be nobody else on this trail.

hiking
3 months ago

Unable to hike the entirety due to recent landslide. See photo, sign states impassable trail.

hiking
3 months ago

Fairly Easy Hike for the first 3.5 miles. Then the trail opens up to the ridge crossings, many of which are right along steep embankments. The final 1.5 miles out will take you about the same time to complete as the first 3.5. Took me and my buddy 8 hours of hiking. The views of the K-Bay and Chinaman's Hat are great if you can complete the hike on a day without alot of tradewind clouds. We got rained on quite a bit and had a fairly obscured view of the windward side of the island because of the clouds.