Mount Kaala Trail

HARD 118 reviews

Mount Kaala Trail is a 6.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Waianae, Hawaii that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, and rock climbing and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
6.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5649 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

hiking

rock climbing

trail running

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

old growth

over grown

rocky

scramble

no dogs

At more than 6 miles and 5,000ft of elevation gain it's one of the most difficult hikes on the O'ahu but it's worth the work to ascend to the highest point on the island. From certain points there are amazing views of the Waianae Valley and Coastline and of the North Shore.

a challenging hike

3 days ago

hiking
4 days ago

hiking
10 days ago

I highly recommend Mt. Kaʻala for experienced hikers and climbers. Making it to the summit will require a lot of endurance and lower body strength. The hike covers 7-8 miles and took us nearly nine hours, including three snack stops, numerous quick catch-your-breath-and-drink stops, and about an hour walk in around the observatory and taking photos up top. We were also carrying heavy camera gear, so you could be much faster if you're traveling only with snacks and water. It’s a very steep and challenging climb from the get-go, you need to be in great cardiac shape or you’ll be stopping to rest every five minutes. Be sure to bring plenty of water. Most hikes on Oahu are only about 2500 feet in elevation, but you're going to ascend nearly twice that far at Kaʻala - you will be thirsty.
The first mile + is a steeply inclined paved path, then you enter the woods and travel through various zones of flora. Early on in the woods you'll pass by a picnic table where you can sit and have a snack before you begin a two-mile upward climb. As you walk, keep an eye out for pigs, hunters, and hunting dogs, and be sure to have your dogs on leash if bringing any. You could take dogs part of the way up, but I definitely do not recommend trying to take them past the bouldering section. This would be too dangerous for the dogs and humans both, and they are not allowed into the protected portion at the top.
After the picnic table, the next landmark you'll see is a sign telling you to take a sharp downward left, where you'll cross a (dry) creekbed and then continue into a beautiful tree tunnel. After the tree tunnel, you continue climbing up, up, up. As you get higher there will be ropes to help you in some of the steeper sections. Be sure to test roots and branches before putting your weight on them, and be careful not to break them. There are two large boulders to climb; the first one is right around 2.75 - 3 miles in. The ropes were in good condition as of 07/04/17. Bring gloves for the ropes in case it rains or if your hands are not callused. There are multiple ropes on the boulders, so you can use them to haul your packs up separately if it's easier to climb without your packs on.
At the top is a large nature preserve and a place to wash your hands and shoes. You'll see a sign before entering the boardwalk preserve area. Be careful not to leave ANYTHING behind, not to damage the flora, and to stay on the boardwalk.
At the top, once you're out of the boardwalk, walk all the way around the observatory and you’ll see views in all four directions around Oahu, including the distant Honolulu skyline, the North Shore wind turbines, the upper ridge of Kaʻena Point, and the Leeward Coast from Pokai Bay to Nanakuli. Be sure to shut the metal gates behind you. On one portion while circumventing the observatory, you'll need your hands free to hold onto the fence while crossing an approximately twenty foot drop-off on a narrow cement ledge.

To get to the hike, follow Farrington Hwy west to Waianae Valley Road. Follow WVR mauka and use the AllTrails app to guide you left on two forks. When you arrive you'll see a home on the right and a small gravel lot on the left. Park in the gravel lot and go to the Budweiser sign. Look inside the mailbox behind it for a sign-in ledger. Be sure to also sign out when you leave.

Malama aina. Leave everything the way you found it and pick up any rubbish you see left from other hikers.

hiking
17 days ago

That was fun. I love ropes. We set off early and finished in under 5 hours. Gloves and hiking boots are a good idea.

hiking
19 days ago

hiking
25 days ago

1 month ago

1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

1 month ago

1 month ago

Took us 6 hours round trip with good weather. Not difficult from a technical standpoint, but requires lots of endurance. It's all uphill from the get-go.. think Koko Head x 3. Well marked trail with incredible views once you hit the ridge.

1 month ago

1 month ago

1 month ago

1 month ago

Amazing, ridge hike and intense scramble all in one.. only for experienced hikers.

1 month ago

2 months ago

This is a legit hike. Be ready. It is long.

3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

Awesome views. Takes a good amount of time, took 4 of us which included a 13 year old 6.5 hours.