Mount Kaala Trail

HARD 152 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
5275 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.

hiking
11 days ago

The amount of effort vs. the views is just not worth it. The back way to the stairway to heaven was easier with much more payoff views. But if you do go bring gloves and a jacket.

Took a 55 year-old man 5.5 hrs round trip to complete this. Definitely worth the views, but prepare to get a serious workout. Don't even think about going if it's raining or has rained hard within the last 3-4 days. Bring gloves for climbing. 3300 ft of elevation according to my GPS.
-Taylor

27 days ago

Great experience. It was my first time and last time doing it. It’s one of those things you only do once and it’s good enough

hiking
1 month ago

It was great, there are at least 3 "mental sections" of the hike where you have to walk some steep concrete to get to the start, some steep climbing till about the 3rd mile where it turns in to ropes and some steep elevation gain.

2 months ago

Definitely one of my all time favorite hikes, and definitely the hardest one I’ve done. Once you get to the peak of Kaʻala the ecosystem is filled with Hawaii’s native species. Native dragon flys(pinao) Happy faced spiders, Hawaiian Snails(Pupu Kuahiwi) and so many native plants and birds like the apapane and amakihi are all abundant here. Kaʻala is also the highest place on Oahu. This hike is super beautiful and is the best place to experience Hawaii what it was possibly like a long time ago

2 months ago

This hike was amazing for us. We went up in about 2 hours and 15 mins. It was a long walk up, steep uphill climb, then you have a stretch with ropes and basically bouldering up. Must trust in the ropes even with the rain and mud. It was nice to have it sprinkle rain going up and pouring rain as we came down. But sure made it slippery so have to be careful. Not for kids or elderly. Path is easy to follow and there are many views along the way up. Be sure to take pics while heading up. You keep walking until you see signs to guide you. You will also walk on a wooden path for a while but this part is nice and relaxing. When we made it to the top creepy golf ball satellite dish, it was too foggy to see anything. It took us about 2 hours down. With my asthma, it was tough going up but the air up top was amazing.

2 months ago

The most amazing adventure I have had yet...but is a very physically demanding hike. At least it was for me.
Beautiful views. Excellent

2 months ago

Excellent trail with lots of character. Very well marked. The trail is pretty clear, but if muddy, is very slippery. Required to ascend up some boulders in multiple areas. There are ropes, but do not rely on them being there. No way around. Definitely recommend trekking poles for coming down. Also, bring a rain jacket. Beautiful views off the ridge line of west Oahu to see the ocean. Shaded, jungle hike with various open spots.

3 months ago

The views are absolutely amazing. Definitely not a hike to under prepare or underestimate. Myself and two friends got it done in 4 hrs 25 mins and we were cooked at the end.

hiking
3 months ago

Mount Ka'ala has been the most challenging hike ive encounter.
Its mostly vertical, it has some rock climbing; i am glad some previous hikers were kind enough to fill it up with ropes because u will sure need them.
The beggining is around 30 min in paved/sunny area, and then u reach the "forest" and start going up. It is long, be prepared, be as LIGHT as possible, i recommend doing it with camelbaks, and bring some protein for the road, we made the mistake of carrying 2 big flasks each and it wasnt fun.
All i gotta say is when you think you are losing your breath and u wont make it there u will see more and more ropes, and rocks, thats when u gotta keep going because u know u are very close to make it!

hiking
4 months ago

This hike (from Waianae side) is more of a workout than anything, kinda boring if you ask me... the views are only at the top, and there are no real challenges besides going uphill... took me 1:40 to get to the top since I'm used to hike steep inclines... weather was dry and hot! Probably won't do it again, I'd rather do kokohead 3 times like some people said and save myself the 1+ hour drive to get there... unless I start at kaena point to get to Ka'ala and go down on North Shore side to try something different!

4 months ago

This hike is the truth. I took two liters of water and ran out halfway through. The sites are stunning! You are in for extensive inclines and rocks to climb over. All this while on sheer cliffs. i had an amazing time. I thought going down would be easier on my legs; haha, I was so wrong. I went alone and it took me 5hrs to complete. The botanical garden at the top is worth the hike.

4 months ago

Beautiful views and definitely a good workout. Would say bring a stick or something encountered a few hunting dogs that were a bit sketchy. But other than that be ready for some steep inclines and also where some shoes with grip it is a bit slippery once you hit the ridge and fence line at some points.

rock climbing
4 months ago

Ka‘ala Trail is an absolutely incredible experience, but not one for the faint of heart. Aspects of the trail become near vertical and two areas specifically require rock climbing with sheer drops to either side. The descent was considerably harder than the climb. Weather changes rapidly on Ka‘ala, and during our hike we ran into rainy conditions at the top, which conveniently is the absolute worst part to encounter rain. The trail became muddy and slick, but the addition of many ropes on the trail made it much safer. All 7 people in my group made it down without any major problems, but it was slow and hard on the knees. Don't get me wrong, the trail is very difficult, but also very, very rewarding. I live within view of Ka‘ala and I have gained a new appreciation for the mountain I see every day.

Do not underestimate how much water you need! I thought 4 liters would be enough, but I can out about 2/3s the way down. High quality hiking shoes, good gloves, and rain gear are also highly recommended.

hiking
4 months ago

Very long and uphill hike with many ropes that are needed to get up the mountain safely. I've read it is like koko head times three and I would agree that is completely true! From the very beginning on the paved road you are walking up at a high incline. It only continues so he prepared for plenty of sweating and burning legs! I drank all 3 liters of my water. Bring snacks and bug spray. I used my spikes on about 3/4 of the trail and they were very helpful. We completed this in 5 hours 45 minutes. Make sure you walk around the entire fence at the top to get all the views. I will definitely do this hike again!

5 months ago

a challenging hike

hiking
5 months 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
5 months 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.

6 months 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.

6 months ago

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

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