Kuli‘ou‘ou Ridge Trail
Trail in Kuli‘ou‘ou Forest Reserve
Length (one way): 2.5 mi / 4.02 km - Elevation Change: 2,000 ft / 609.6 m
Kuli'ou'ou Ridge Trail swtichback ridge trek moving into the Ko‘olau range though a variety of plant life.
For additional information refer to the "Route description" below.
Rules & Regulation
Amenities & Facilities
!!!PLEASE READ!!! When accessing this trail please be respectful to the trail head community by keeping noise down, not littering and parking responsibly.
Caution should be exercised on this trail since it is also open to mountain bikers and hunters. This trail traverses a public hunting area - hikers should exercise caution. Wear bright colored clothing and be aware that you may encounter hunters who may be hunting off trail - stay on the trail.
Do not use any trail or access road that is not delineated by name and color and that may also be displayed on these maps. The marked features are managed for public recreational use. Other trails or roads that branch off from the public features may be on private property, and are not managed for any public recreational use. Access is subject to adjacent landowner approval, and if used without authorization, you will be trespassing and possibly putting yourself at risk.
Downloadable resources are provided below
- Dog Hunting
- Dog on leash
First try to click on the “Get Directions” icon at the top of this page. If you are taking TheBus, click on the "Transit" icon at the top of the search bar. You may need to change the starting address to your current location. Clicking on TheBus link provided below will also take you to TheBus website.
If driving from Kalanianaole Highway heading east, take a left on Kuliouou Street. Drive mauka towards the back of the valley. Follow the curve to the left, and take a right on Kuli‘ou‘ou Road. Proceed mauka (towards the mountains) on this road, turn right on Kala‘au Place. Find street parking along Kala‘au Place. Do not park at the end of the cul-de-sac where it says "No parking". Proceed on foot to the end of the road and past the cable gate on the access road. The trail begins on the right of the access road at the hunter/hiker check in station.
- Nature Study
- Open Views
- Scenic Viewpoint
Terrain and Trail Environment
Mountainous, mixed forest and tree types, open ridge line, views
Always yield to hikers. Do not slide around corners or slide down the trail. Careless mountain biking damages the trail and causes erosion. If accidents are reported or damage to the trail is extreme, the trail may be closed to mountain bikers.
Plants & Birds
In 1935, CCC crews also planted the groves of tall Cook pines along the ridge near the picnic tables. Named after Captain James Cook, the pines are native to New Caledonia (Isle of Pines) in the South Pacific between Fiji and Australia. They are columnar in shape and have overlapping, scalelike leaves about 1/4 inch long, rather than true needles.
Beyond the pines the trail climbs through a more open native forest of `ohi`a and lama trees. `Ohi`a has oval leaves and clusters of delicate red flowers. Early Hawaiians used the flowers in lei (garlands) and the wood in outrigger canoes. The hard, durable wood was also carved into god images for heiau (religious sites). Lama has oblong, pointed leaves that are dark green and leathery. Its fruits are green, then yellow, and finally bright red when fully ripe. Lama was sacred to Laka, goddess of the hula. Early Hawaiians used the hard, light-colored wood in temple construction and in hula performances.
On the switchbacks, look and listen for the red-billed leiothrix, a songbird introduced from China in 1918. The leiothrix is olive-green above with an orange-yellow throat and underside. It is frequently seen on the ground, foraging for insects, fruits and seeds.
Along the open ridge listen for the Japanese bush warbler (uguisu), a bird often heard, but rarely seen. Its distinctive cry starts with a long whistle and then winds down in a series of notes. The bush warbler is olive brown on top with a white breast and a long tail.
Sudden Drop off
The switchbacks pass through a section reforested in 1934-35 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. CCC crews planted hundreds of Formosa koa and thousands of logwood trees along the slopes of Kuli`ou`ou Valley to reduce water runoff and thus erosion. The workers undoubtedly built a rudimentary trail network to access the planting areas, but volunteers and the staff of Na Ala Hele, the state trail program, constructed the current alignment in 1991-92.
- No Alcohol
- No Motorized Vehicles
- No Commercial
- No Littering
- No Open Fires
- No Plant Sand Dirt Rock Removal
- No Smoking
Access to Kuli‘ou‘ou Ridge Trail starts on the right at the hunter/hiker check-in station just past the Board of Water Supply cable gate. The trailhead to the ridge begins about 0.2 in on the Kuli‘ou‘ou Valley Trail and proceed up the ridge to the summit of the Ko‘olau Range. About two-thirds of the way up the ridge, there is a shelter with two picnic tables.
From this point, the trail becomes steeper,while following the ridge, the trail is only occasionally maintained, and may be difficult for inexperienced hikers. The trail ends at the summit with a spectacular view of the windward side of O‘ahu and Waimanalo. Return is by the same route. The trail traverses through an assortment of exotic vegetation typical of arid areas: Christmas berry, haole koa, formosa koa, ironwood, Norfolk pine and guava. Beyond the shelter and the guava forest, the trail breaks out of the canopy and into uluhe-o‘hia-koa-lama forest. This upper section of trail offers an almost 360 degree view of the island.
Descriptions for route, history, plants and birds were provided by Stuart Ball, author of The Hikers Guide to Oahu and other hiking books.
Campers must find legal parking in the adjacent neighborhood. Please park responsibly and do not leave valuables in your vehicle.
Hunting may be in progress on or near this hiking trail. Hunting dogs may be off-leash while engaged in the hunt. Hikers must keep their dogs leashed at all times and remove dog waste while on this trail.
Simple Trail Tips
1. Stay on the trail.
2. Check the weather
3. Watch the time
4. Avoid undue risk
5. Read all posted signs
6. Respect other trail users and trail head community
7. Pack out at least what you pack in.