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Best Hikes on Oahu: The Mt. Ka’ala Trail (Waianae-Kaala)

Basic Information

  • Name: Mt. Ka’ala Trail
  • Where: Waianae, Hawaii
  • Distance: 7.3 miles
  • Max Elevation: 4,025 feet
  • Elevation Gain: 3,426 feet
  • Time: 6-8 hours
  • Difficulty: Very Hard
  • More Info: The Hikers Guide to O’ahu

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Topographic Map

Mt. Ka'ala Topo Map

Mt. Ka’ala Elevation Map

Elevation Map for Mt. Ka'ala

Route Up Mt. Ka’ala

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Overview

The trail to the summit of Oahu’s tallest peak, the 4,025 foot Mt. Ka’ala is considered one of the toughest hikes on the island.  One of the factors that makes the trail hard is that it has an elevation gain of nearly 3,500 feet that may be too much for some hikers.  Additionally the mountain requires some minor rock scrambling skills and the ability to handle exposure on some narrow sections of the trail.  Finally the trail will likely be wet and muddy from the near daily shroud of clouds and rain that falls on the peak.  For those that can handle all these factors, Mt. Ka’ala is a great hike and one of my favorites on the island.

Mt. Kaala Google Earth 1

Directions

Getting to the trailhead for the Mt. Ka’ala hike is fairly easy . The first thing to do is drive up the Waianae Coast on the Farrington Highway.  Once in the town of Waianae make a right hand turn on to Waianae Valley Road which is located near the center of town.

Once on Waianae Valley Road, drive up the road until it reaches a second bus turn around point.  At the turn around make a left and then an immediate right to continue on the Waianae Valley Road.  At this point the road becomes one way with periodic pull outs to let other drivers go by.  The road is also littered with garbage and old cars.

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

It is a shame that such a beautiful valley is littered with all this garbage.

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

At the end of the road is a locked gate with a number of signs on the left:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Parking

Parking at the Mt. Ka’ala Trailhead is in a large dirt lot to the left of the locked gate.  I estimate the lot could handle 15 cars.  I hiked this trail on a weekend and there was about five cars in the lot when I got back.  Do not park across the street because that is a private residence.  Make sure to remove all valuables from your vehicle because this trailhead is well known for break ins.

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Hawaiian Meaning

The word Ka’ala means in English the “fragrance”.  However, Stuart Ball in his book, The Hikers Guide to O’ahu says that Ka’ala may have instead meant to early Hawaiians “lofty” or “removed” which would be a more appropriate meaning for Mt. Ka’ala.

Narrative

For the longest time I have been wanting to climb the highest peak on Oahu, the 4,025 foot Mt. Ka’ala. When the mountain infrequently makes an appearance from its usually cloudy shroud, I always wonder what the view from the summit looks like?  Before climbing the mountain though I wanted build up some experience on other Oahu peaks.  After hiking up a number of mountains on Oahu I felt experienced enough to try the Mt. Ka’ala Trail.  I decided to use my Christmas Eve day off to hike up the peak since the weather was forecasted as being favorable.  From my home in Honolulu I made the hour long drive out to the Mt. Ka’aala Trailhead in Waianae. I got an early start so it was still dark when I reached the trailhead.  The trailhead is marked with this large public hunting sign:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Next to the hunting sign is a box with a sign in form for hunters and hikers:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

After signing in on the trail register I then proceeded to begin my hike.  It was 6:20 AM when I began which meant it was still dark out when I passed by the locked gate:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The first mile of the hike follows a paved road which is actually steeper than it looks:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Since it was still dark out I did have some nice night time views looking towards the Waianae Coast:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

By the time I reached the first water pumping station the sun had begun to creep above the Waianae Range providing me some sunlight:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Just passed the first water pumping station the road was covered with water and mud:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Since I had my KEEN Men’s Liberty Ridge waterproof hiking boots on I was able to walk right through this muddy section.  I then came to the second water pumping station where I took a quick water break.

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The steep road definitely provided a nice warm up for my calf muscles before actually starting on the real trail to the summit of Mt. Ka’ala.  From the second water pumping station the wide dirt trail heads up the mountain:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

After a short distance the wide trail leads to a picnic shelter constructed by a local Boy Scout Troop:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

To the right of the picnic shelter is where a smaller trail continues up the mountain:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The trail enters into some thick vegetation marked by these rocks and ribbons hanging in the trees:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Throughout the hike there are plenty of ribbons to help keep hikers on the trail.  Something else that has been put along the trail to assist with route finding is purple bottle caps:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

With all the the hunting trails going off in different directions the ribbons and bottle caps are very useful.  This section of the trail passed the picnic shelter is where early Hawaiians once had agricultural terraces constructed to farm vegetables such as taro.  The positioning of the rocks along the trail made it easy to see where the terraces had once been:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

On the right side of the trail there is a steep drop off into a valley and ahead I could see Mt. Ka’ala looming above me:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

There is one official hiking sign along the trail and it is an arrow that points hikers to take a left and descend down into a small valley:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The fact a sign was put here shows the importance of making this turn.  Continuing straight up the trail seems like the natural direction to go, but descending down into the valley leads to the trail that ascends up the proper ridgeline to the summit of Mt. Ka’ala.  At the bottom of the small valley there is a dry creek bed, but in the distance I could actually hear a waterfall further up the valley:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

In the valley there is another critical turn to make on the trail. Due to various hunting trails going in various directions it is easy to make a wrong turn here.  Look for a tree with a purple arrow and a ribbon on it:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

This trail ascends out of the valley to where I could see Kamaile’unu Ridge to the north that separates the Waianae Valley from the Makaha Valley:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The trail in this section became narrower, steeper, and surrounded by small bushes that made me thankful that I wore pants to avoid getting my legs scratched:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Here is a closer look at the vegetation which includes this plant commonly seen on Oahu trails called  a Laua’e fern that has a spotted appearance:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

As I continued to ascend the views of Kamaile’unu Ridge became better and better.  This ridgeline ascends to 3,150 feet making it the fourth highest peak on Oahu:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Up above me I could see the ridgeline to Mt. Ka’ala just above me that the trail was ascending to:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The trail next exited the bushes and entered again into a lush forest where it appeared a number native Hawaiian ti plants had been planted:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The trail became progressively steeper as I hiked through the lush forest to gain the ridgeline that leads to the summit of Mt. Ka’ala:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

As the trail became steeper some sections were challenging to get across because they had been eroded and washed out:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The steepness combined with the mud made the trail very slippery.  Fortunately I brought my microspikes which really helped me to gain traction on the steep, muddy trail.  As I neared the ridgeline a few ropes were installed to help with the ascent:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

There are plenty of ropes and cables installed throughout the upper sections of this trail.  This is why I highly recommend wearing gloves for this hike because they protected my hands from getting rubbed raw by the ropes.  Eventually I was able to spot the top of the ridgeline that had a fence installed on it:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The fence that runs along the ridgeline was installed to keep predators such as dogs and non-native animals such as pigs out of the protected forest area around Mt. Ka’ala.  At the fence line I made a right to ascend the ridgeline towards the mountain’s summit:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

There is also a trail descending the ridgeline which is part of the return section of the Waianae Kai Trail.  The trail ascending along the fence line was steep, but grabbing the fence helped to keep my balance on the slippery and muddy trail.  With that said if I wasn’t wearing my gloves the fence would have cut my hands which is another reason to bring gloves on this hike.  As I ascended up the ridge I passed a power line pole and then entered into a forest of mostly native koa and ohia trees:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The views from the ridge of the Waianae Coast and the Kamaile’unu Ridge became better and better the higher I ascended:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Something I noticed out in the distance was the antennas of the Naval Radio Transmitter Facility (NRTF) Lualualei:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The NRTF Lualualei uses two 1,503 foot antennas to communicate with submerged nuclear submarines using a low frequency transmission.  Lualualei is one of five NRTF stations around the world the Navy uses to pass communications to submerged submarines.

After checking out the expansive views, I continued to slog my way up the muddy trail:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

As I was hiking up the trail I noticed this large snail on the ground which I believe is a non-native species known as a Giant African Tree Snail:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

At the end of the fence line I came the crux of the entire hike, an infamous rock formation that is the bane of many trip reports I have read about the Mt. Ka’ala Trail:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

At first glance I was thinking the same thing that this rock looked quite difficult to climb.  As I studied the rock I noticed that on the right side of the rock there is a steep drop that would likely kill anyone who fell off of it.  To the left the drop off is not as steep and there is a tree that would likely stop a fall off of the ridge.  However, any fall off of the rock to the left would still likely cause significant injury:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The rock was also wet and slippery from the cloudy mist that had rolled in and covered the top portion of the peak.  So I knew I needed to take it slow and easy up this rock face.  After I finished my examination of the rock I spotted a clear path to get up it.  Below is a rough outline of how I climbed up the rock:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

There are ropes installed on the rock, but I did not need them because there was enough foot and handholds for me to use to get up the rock.  Here is the view looking down from the top of the rock:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

After climbing up the rock I really did not find it to be that difficult.  However, I still recommend taking it slow and easy because one slip could possibly send you over the edge into a deep ravine.  After the large rock section the trail becomes very steep and increasingly muddy as it nears the summit of Mt. Ka’ala:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

This section of the trail had many ropes installed that assisted with getting up the steep and muddy sections:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The ropes were useful, but I do not recommend fully trusting your life to these ropes.  This is because along the trail I spotted old ropes and cables that had been severed:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

In one spot where a cable had severed I could see that someone had slid off the slide of the mountain based on the vegetation that was bent down.  Whoever it was appeared to have pulled themselves back up on the trail using the thick vegetation, but it was probably an undoubtedly scary moment.  Eventually the trail reaches the high summit plateau of Mt. Ka’ala.  The vegetation on top of Mt. Ka’ala is unlike anything I have seen on Oahu:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The plateau is filled with native Hawaiian plants, but they have been shrunken in size due to the extremely wet soil and persistent wind on Mt. Ka’ala’s summit plateau.  As I hiked up the trail I noticed that the plateau is not completely flat with a few low lying valleys cut into the summit:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

I next came to a sign that announced that I was entering the Ka’ala Natural Area Preserve:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The natural area reserve was created in 1981 and is composed of 1,100 acres that protects the primarily native Hawaiian plant and animal life that live on the isolated plateau and some of its slopes.  Not all the vegetation is native within the reserve.  Another sign discussed how moss is an invasive plant species inside the Ka’ala Natural Area Reserve:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

If the Oahu Army Natural Resources Program is trying to control the invasive moss they are fighting a losing battle because the moss can be found all over the summit of Mt. Ka’ala:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

I actually thought the moss added to the ambience of this incredible forest that felt like I was walking through a setting from a Lord of the Rings movie:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

One of the most ubiquitous plants on the summit was the small ohia trees.  The ohia trees on Oahu are usually much larger, but due to the extreme moisture and wind on the summit of Mt. Ka’ala the growth of the trees are stunted:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The ohia tree has an interesting legend associated with it due to its bright red flowers.  The legend states that if you pick the tree’s lehua flower it will rain on the same day.  This belief goes back to a legend involving Hawaii’s goddess of fire Pele.  She wanted a great warrior named Ohia to marry her.  He refused because he was already in love with a woman named Lehua.  Pele was angry and turned Ohia into a twisted tree now called a ohia tree.  Other Hawaiian Gods took pity on Lehua for losing her lover and thus turned her into the Lehua flower so she could forever be with Ohia.  So if you pick the Lehua Flower you are separating Lehua from her lover which will cause it to rain due to Lehua’s tears.  Well someone must be picking lehua flowers every day on Mt. Ka’ala because of how frequently it rains on its summit:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Another plant I saw frequently on the summit was the kolii:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The kolii can be found in other areas of Oahu, but the summit of Ka’ala has the most I have seen:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The kanawao plant was another native Hawaiian flora I saw through out my hike across the plateau:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Some of the kanawao plants were quite scenic since they were in bloom:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Below is another plant I saw all over the plateau, but I am not sure what it is called.  If anyone knows please leave a comment:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Here is another plant I saw frequently on the summit which I am unsure what it is called as well:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Shortly after passing the signs the muddy dirt trail is replaced by a wooden boardwalk:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The boardwalk makes passing through the bog on top of Mt. Ka’ala quite easy:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Crossing this bog would have been much more difficult without the boardwalk because of how extremely saturated with moisture the ground is:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The trail next reached what appeared to be a water pump:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Shortly after passing the water pump I could see the Ka’ala Air Force Station coming into view in front of me:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

To get into the radar station I had to pass through this gated fence that keeps predators and pigs out of the natural reserve area:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

On the other side of the fence there was a bench to sit down on and a marker explaining the natural history of the area:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Here is a closer look at the signboard on the summit of Mt. Ka’ala:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

It had took me just over three hours to reach the summit.  Getting up the last steep section of the hike was the most time consuming portion of the hike because of how careful I was to not slip and fall.  The below Google Earth image shows the final steep section and the walk across the summit plateau to the radar station:

Top of Mt Kaala Google Earth

As I took a break on the bench and ate a granola bar, I noticed that my pants were torn:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

There is a lot of foliage along the Mt. Ka’ala Trail especially when crossing through the natural reserve.  Wearing pants definitely prevented me from receiving scratched up legs.  I also wore gaiters over my boots which helped to keep plant debris and water from the wet conditions from getting my feet wet.  My feet remained dry for the entire hike.  The microspikes I wore over my boots were extremely helpful as well on the slippery trail:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

I should have worn a long sleeve shirt though because my arms were pretty scratched up from the hike:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

After finishing my snack I walked over to where the trail ends at the Mt. Ka’ala Road:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The Mt. Ka’ala Road is used by Air Force and FAA personnel to access the radar station.  Hiking on the Mt. Ka’ala Road is strictly forbidden.  Even official vehicle traffic has strict movement schedules they have to follow to come to and exit the radar station:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The Ka’ala Air Force Station was opened in 1965 and is manned by personnel from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Hawaii Air National Guard.  The personnel on shift operate the large golf ball radar on the summit that is responsible for tracking all the domestic and military flights around the island of Oahu.  Because of how sensitive the radar is hikers are not allowed inside the fenced in facility:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

However, hikers can follow the fence around the facility to get more views of the area:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

As I walked around the fence the clouds parted enough to where I was actually able to see the giant golf ball radar for the first time:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

As I neared the eastern portion of the fence line I began to see some patches of blue skies which made me hope the clouds were going to blow over and I would have some great views:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Looking to the southwest I could even see the ocean through a small break in the clouds:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

However, as I reached the east side of the summit there was no more blue sky to see and the views of central Oahu and the North Shore were completely obscured:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

I decided to wait a little while and see if the views would open up.  The storm actually seemed to get worse the longer I waited because the wind began to blow harder pelting me with moisture.  This caused me to get a bit cold since I was just sitting on the ground soaking wet and getting hit by wind at over 4,000 feet in altitude.  Even in the tropics it can get cold above 4,000 feet in the wind.  So I decided to head back towards the trail to get out of the wind.  After I walked back toward the perimeter of the Ka’ala Natural Reserve Area the wind decreased substantially though the drizzle continued:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

In total I spent about an hour resting and walking around the Air Force Station before deciding to head back down the mountain.  I began my descent by once again walking across the summit plateau using the boardwalks:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

During my hike across the summit I actually saw two native Hawaiian honeycreeper birds which are an endangered species.  This is the first time I had seen them in the wild on Oahu.  However, each time I saw them I could not get my camera out in time to get a picture of the bird before it flew away.   Interestingly what has killed off a large part of the Hawaiian honeycreeper is avian flu spread by mosquitoes introduced to Hawaii after western contact.  In high elevations such as on the summit of Mt. Ka’ala the mosquitos cannot survive and thus the Hawaiian honeycreepers are able to thrive there.  Via Wikipedia this is what the Hawaiian honeycreeper looks like:

As I reached the end the of the plateau and prepared for the descent; the clouds opened up towards the west where I had a partial view of the Waianae Coast:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Here is a panorama picture of the view from the summit plateau of Mt. Ka’ala:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

After spending a few minutes enjoying the summit views I then began the muddy slog back down the mountain:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The snacks and rest on the summit had me rejuvenated so I was making good time getting down the mountain:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

As I descended I noticed that the upper Makaha Valley that I could not see earlier due to the clouds had opened up:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The upper Makaha Valley is a very remote location on Oahu which I have not been able to find an official trail to access it.  The further I descended the better the view of the Kamaile’unu Ridge were as well:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Here is a panorama photo of the Kamaile’unu Ridge in the center and the upper Makaha Valley on the right:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Before I knew it I was back at the large rock section.  I found going down the rock was even easier than going up it:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Here is a panorama picture of the rock section on the far left with the steep drop off on the right:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The left side of the rocky ridge also had an impressive cliff face from the Mt. Ka’ala summit that dropped straight down into the upper Makaha Valley:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Afte descending the rock section and walking a short ways down the trail I looked back to notice that the summit plateau of Mt. Ka’ala was starting to shed its clouds:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

A short distance passed the rock formation I found the fence line again that leads down the ridge:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

To my right I had even better views of the upper Makaha Valley:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

To my left I had some more great views towards the Waianae Coast:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Towards the south I could see the Lualualei Valley and in the foreground a distinctive shark fin rock formation on a ridge descending down from Mt. Ka’ala:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

As I passed the power line this was my sign that the trail intersection leading off the ridgeline was coming up:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The ribbon having on the tree made the intersection easy to spot, so I made a left on to the steep and muddy trail off of the ridgeline:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The way up to the ridgeline  was marked with purple bottle caps, while the way down the ridgeline is marked with orange bottle caps:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The trail was muddy and slippery, but my microspikes kept me from falling:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Along the way down the trail I spotted some movement in the trees and noticed this Kalij pheasant which is a species introduced to Hawaii from the Himalayas of all places as a hunting bird:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Eventually the trail some what leveled off and turned the hike into a nice stroll back down the mountain:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

As I hiked down this section of the trail I enjoyed the views of the Kamaile’unu Ridge which now towered above me:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

I soon found myself crossing back across the small valley:

IMG_1878

After crossing the small valley I descended down the trail back to the picnic shelter:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

From the picnic shelter I was back on the paved road that leads to the trailhead:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

As I passed the second water pumping station I noticed that I could now see the summit of Mt. Ka’ala:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

As I descended further down the road I enjoyed the views of the Waianae Range that I was not able to see earlier in the morning due to darkness:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

I next came to clearing that had a good view of the city of Waianae down below:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

To the north the Kamaile’unu Ridge made for an impressive vista:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Behind me Mt. Ka’ala was now fully visible and quite a beautiful sight to see:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

As I looked back towards Mt. Ka’ala I also spotted a waterfall flowing off of the mountain:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

To the south and adjacent to Mt. Ka’ala I could see the second highest peak on Oahu the 3,504 foot Pu’u Kalaena:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Here is a wide angle panorama of the view from the clearing:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Here is a shorter panorama showing just Mt. Ka’ala on the left and Pu’u Kalena on the right and how they are connected by a long ridgeline:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Here is a panorama of the view looking west towards the Waianae Coast:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

From the clearing I then continued my walk down the road and enjoyed the rugged topography unlike anywhere else on the island:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Here is another view towards Pu’u Kalena and its connecting ridge to Mt. Ka’ala:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

The connecting ridge had the fluted cliffs eroded into its side that made it look like a ridgeline in the Ko’olau Range:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

I soon found myself approaching the gate at the trailhead:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

Here is what the gate looks like during the daylight hours:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

I did not notice this in the morning darkness, but the trailhead also had a large Budweiser sign for some reason:

Picture from the Mt. Ka'ala Trail

I made my way back to my truck and was happy to find that no one had broken into it which was a relief.  I had not left anything of value in my truck anyway which may have helped prevent anyone from attempting a break in.  Coincidentally as I drove back down the Waianae Valley Road I noticed two people taking tires off of a car parked on the side of the road that they had put on blocks.  I don’t know if it was their car or not, but I just smiled and waved and was thankful that it wasn’t my truck on blocks when I got back to the trailhead.

Conclusion

Based on my GPS data the Mt. Ka’ala Trail is 7.3 miles long with a very respectable 3,426 feet of elevation gain.  I completed the hike in just over 7 hours.  It took me just over three hours to summit, 1 hour on the summit, and about 3 hours back down.  I could have done this hike much faster if I hadn’t stopped to take so many pictures and if the trail was dry.  I was very careful and took my time descending because of all the slippery mud which is why my descent time was nearly identical to my ascent time.  Because of the distance, elevation gain, rock scrambling, and slippery conditions I consider this to be a hard hike and not for beginners or intermediate level hikers. For those who are experienced hikers I do highly recommend the Mt. Ka’ala Trail because it is one of the best hikes I have completed on Oahu.  Even with the cloudy conditions, wind, and rain the beauty of the summit plateau and the views that I did have of the surrounding Waianae Range made this a memorable hike.


Disclaimer:  On-Walkabout is a website about outdoor activities that is not affiliated with any state or national government.  The articles on this website are for informational purposes only and to inspire others to get outside.  The activity descriptions are given to showcase the beauty and fun of experiencing the outdoors.  The writer of On-Walkabout is not responsible for any accidents, injuries, rescues, legal issues, or loss of life by anyone attempting the activities listed on this website.  Outdoor activities can be dangerous which is why it is the responsibility of the reader to use common sense and understand their own abilities before attempting an outdoor activity inspired by this website.  Most importantly parents need to understand the ability of their children before attempting an outdoor activity.  Just because my young children completed a hike mentioned on this site does not mean your children can as well.  Be safe and I hope this website inspires others to go and enjoy the outdoors as much as I do.  

YOU CAN FIND MORE GREAT HIKES AT THE OAHU REGIONAL TRAIL FINDER:

The Oahu Regional Trail Finder

Note: Further hiking information can be found in the below book:

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