Wa‘ahila Ridge Trail
Trail in Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve
Length (one way): 2.4 mi / 3.86 km - Elevation Change: 500 ft / 152.4 m
Wa‘ahila Ridge Trail is a ridge trail that transitions from forests to open ridge areas offering views of the surrounding valleys.
For additional information refer to the "Route description" below.
Rules & Regulation
- Dog Hunting
Plants & Birds
The trail starts in a grove of tall Cook pines planted in 1931--32 for reforestation. They have overlapping, scale-like leaves about 1/4 inch long, rather than true needles. Named after Captain James Cook, they are native to New Caledonia (Isle of Pines) in the South Pacific between Fiji and Australia.
Past the pines the trail is lined with strawberry guava trees (waiawi-`ula`ula). They have glossy, dark green leaves and smooth brown bark. Their dark red fruit is delicious, with a taste reminiscent of strawberries. The guavas usually ripen in August and September. Pickings may be slim along the trail, however, because of its popularity. The strawberry guava is a native of Brazil but was introduced to Hawai`i from England in the 1800s. In the forest understory look and listen for the white-rumped shama. It is black on top with a chestnut-colored breast and a longblack-and-white tail. The shama has a variety of beautiful songs and often mimics other birds. A native of Malaysia, the shama has become widespread in introduced forests such as this one.
Past the windswept saddle are a few native alahe`e trees. Their oblong leaves are shiny and dark green. Alahe`e has fragrant white flowers that grow in clusters at the branch tips. Early Hawaiians fashioned the hard wood into farming tools, and hooks and spears for fishing.
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 Waialae Avenue, proceed up St. Louis Drive. Wind up the road, turning right on Peter Street near the top. At the end of Peter (at the cul-de-sac), turn left on Ruth Street, continuing into Wa‘ahila Ridge State Park.
The Wa`ahila Ridge Trail is part of an old native route to the summit of Mt. Olympus. Early Hawaiians used the trail to access the mountains to cut wood, catch birds, and collect plants.
- Nature Study
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. This trail is not an easy mountain bike trail.
- Dangerous Cliff
- Dangerous Footing
- Hunting Area
- Narrow Trail
Amenities & Facilities
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.
Terrain and Trail Environment
Dry, mountainous, partly native forest
Wa‘ahila Ridge Trail begins at the back of Wa‘ahila Ridge State Park in ironwood and guava trees. It traverses alternately between open ridge and forest as it gradually ascends up the ridge between Manoa and Palolo Valleys. It offers spectacular views of Manoa Valley, Palolo Valley, Honolulu and the Ko‘olau Range. Native Hawai‘ian plants are common along the upper portions of this trail, including koa and o‘hia lehua. This trail can also be a good place to observe amakihi and apapane. This trail ends at an intersection with Kolowalu Trail. Do not go up to the summit beyond the Kolowalu/Wa‘ahila junction - it is a Restricted Watershed Area. You may continue down Kolowalu Trail, which descends steeply down into the back of Manoa Valley. Camping allowed at Kolowalu trail shelter.
Descriptions for route, history, plants and birds were provided by Stuart Ball, author of The Hikers Guide to Oahu and other hiking books.
- No Bicycles
Park in the provided parking lot and follow trailhead signs. 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
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
7. Pack out at least what you pack in.