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Best Hikes on Oahu: The Kuli’ou’ou Valley Trail

Basic Information

  • Name: Kuli’ou’ou Valley Trail
  • Where: Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Distance: 1.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 419 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • More Information: The Hikers Guide to O’ahu

Picture from the Kuli'ou'ou Valley Trail

Topographic Map of the Kuli’ou’ou Valley Trail

Kuliouou Valley Top Map


The Kuli’ou’ou Valley is a short, family friendly hike into one of the many valleys along Oahu’s Ko’olau Range. The trail is in great shape and ends at a small pool with a waterfall if there has been recent rain.

Kuliouou Valley Google Earth Map

Hawaiian Meaning

Kuli’ou’ou is Hawaiian for “sounding knee” which is in reference to the sound made by a traditional drum called a “puniu”.  The drum was made from taking the skin of a surgeonfish and stretching across a coconut shell.

Puniu drum via Primitive Ways


Getting to the trailhead is quite easy, just drive west on the Kalanianaole Highway towards Hawaii Kai and then make a left turn at a stoplight on to Kuli’ou’ou Road.  Follow the road up to the end of the valley where the trailhead is located:


At the trailhead there is no dedicated parking so cars have to park along the curb in a residential neighborhood.  This is not uncommon for trailheads on Oahu so please be respectful of the residents and keep noise to a minimum.  In the early morning hours curb side parking will not be a problem, but later in the day the parking near the trailhead will be filled up and thus require a much longer walk through the neighborhood to access the trailhead.

Picture from the Kuli'ou'ou Valley Trail


With two young kids (4 and 8 years old) I am always looking for family friendly hikes to take them on.  I had previously hiked up the Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail before which is a hike I highly recommend, but not one suitable for my four-year old to hike up yet:

Best Hikes On Oahu: Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail

When I hiked up the ridge trail I noticed there was a sign for the Kuli’ou’ou Valley Trail.  I made a mental note to check out that trail at some point with my kids. On a recent weekend with nice weather I took my kids out to hike this trail.  After finding parking in the neighborhood we walked to the easy to find trailhead marked by this yellow gate and the Kuli’ou’ou Reservoir sign:

Picture from the Kuli'ou'ou Valley Trail

After passing the gate we walked a short distance up a paved road.  The weather was just beautiful out with blue skies:

Picture from the Kuli'ou'ou Valley Trail

We next came to an intersection with a State of Hawaii trailhead sign and a very large map of Oahu:

Picture from the Kuli'ou'ou Valley Trail

The Oahu map shows the various state run recreational locations around the island:

Picture from the Kuli'ou'ou Valley Trail

At the intersection the trail to the Kuli’ou’ou Valley Trail heads to the right into a public hunting area:

Picture from the Kuli'ou'ou Valley Trail

On my previous hike up the Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail I had saw two huge pigs, so I can understand why this is a hunting area.  Since it is a hunting area it is advisable to stay on the trails and wear bright colored clothing.  A short distance passed the Oahu sign is where the intersection between the Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail and Valley Trail is located:

Picture from the Kuli'ou'ou Valley Trail

The intersection is well marked and impossible to miss:

Picture from the Kuli'ou'ou Valley Trail

From the intersection the Kuli’ou’ou Valley Trail is a pleasant walk through a dense forest:

Picture from the Kuli'ou'ou Valley Trail

There is a few rocky sections along the trail, but my kids had no issues getting up them:

Picture from the Kuli'ou'ou Valley Trail

Since the weather was nice the creek along side of the trail was dry.  Be warned though that even when the creek is dry there is still enough moisture in this valley to cause it to have mosquitoes.  We were thankful we had bug spray to help keep them off of us:

Picture from the Kuli'ou'ou Valley Trail

Also there were section along the trail where hunting trails go off in various directions, but the main trail was easy to stay on since it is marked with pink ribbons:

Picture from the Kuli'ou'ou Valley Trail

In less then a mile we reached the end of the trail.  At the end of the trail there is a rock outcropping that would form a small waterfall if enough rain had fallen the day prior:

Picture from the Kuli'ou'ou Valley Trail

At the top of the rock outcropping there is a small pool:

Picture from the Kuli'ou'ou Valley Trail

We hung out at the pool for a few minutes to drink water and eat some snacks we bought.  We did not stay too long at the pool because of the mosquitos.  From the small pool it is possible to follow the creek bed further up and into the valley for those interested:

Picture from the Kuli'ou'ou Valley Trail

However, I did not want to bring my four-year old up the rocky creek bed and I decided it was best to head back down the trail.


Overall the Kuli’ou’ou Valley Trail is a great trail for families looking for an easy hike with young kids.  Plus few people hike this trail which means you can enjoy the forest and the small pool at the end the trail likely all by yourself.  Though other people may not be around what will be around is the mosquitos.  Bug spray will be your best friend on this hike.


The Oahu Regional Trail Finder

Note: Further information about the Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail can be found in the below book:

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