Oahu, is heaven for hikers with tall mountains, volcano cones, lush jungle, waterfalls, and streams. From easy hikes perfect for families to really challenging trips to the mountain peaks and steep ridges, there is a hike for everyone. It rains a lot in Oahu, so the trails get muddy and erode quickly even with the best maintenance, so planning is important as well as good hiking shoes. Take the kids up to the Manoa Falls or Diamond Head, challenge your friends on the Koko Crater Railway steps, or go to the top of the world at the end of the Olomana Three Peaks hike.
1.Diamond Head State Monument Trail
2.Aiea Loop Trail
3.Ka'ena Point Trail
4.Kuliouou Ridge and Valley
5.Makapu‘u Point Lighthouse Trail
25 Best Oahu Hikes
- Diamond Head State Monument Trail, Photo: Courtesy of Eric BVD - Fotolia.com
- Aiea Loop Trail, Photo: Courtesy of PhotoImage - Fotolia.com
- Ka'ena Point Trail, Photo: Courtesy of Andre Nantel - Fotolia.com
- Kuliouou Ridge and Valley, Photo: Courtesy of shamosan - Fotolia.com
- Makapu‘u Point Lighthouse Trail, Photo: Courtesy of jwjarrett - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of 7maru - Fotolia.com
This easy 1.2-mile mostly flat loop trail in the Ahupua?a ?O Kahana State Park runs along the mountain slope on the western side of Kahana Bay. It passes by the Kapa‘ele‘ele Ko‘a fishing shrine through a canopy of trees (mostly Java Plum) and ends at the Kea niani Kilo lookout, which opens to stunning views of Huilua Fishpond and Kahana Bay.
55-222 Kamehameha Highway, Kaaawa, Oahu, HI
Nakoa Trail is a 2.5-mile loop trail through the Ahupua?a ?O Kahana State Park that crosses the rainforest through Kahana Valley. It runs through a forest of native trees such as koa, pandanus, octopus trees, ink berry, guava, and lush ferns. The trail is muddy and slippery and crosses several streams, especially after recent rains. It passes by several WWII bunkers and coral roads that remained from WWII when the jungle was used by military for training.
52-222 Kamehameha Hwy Hauula, HI 96717
Wa'ahila Ridge Trail
This 2.4-mile moderately difficult ridge hike starts at the back end of the Wa‘ahila Ridge State Recreation Area. It mostly passes through dense forests of guava and ironwood trees but at times climbs up the open ridge between Manoa and Palolo Valleys. This trail is home the native birds amakihi and apapane, and it offers magnificent views of Manoa and Palolo Valleys, the Ko‘olau Range, and Honolulu.
Wa'ahila Ridge Trail, Honolulu, HI
Ahupua?a ?O Kahana State Park
Ahupua?a ?O Kahana State Park is located about 26 miles from Honolulu on the Oahu’s windward side between Kane’ohe and La?ie. Kahana Valley is fairly unspoiled, one of a few Hawaiian publicly owned land divisions or ahupua?a. It stretches from the sea level at Kahana Bay to 2,670 feet at Pu?u Pauao on the Ko?olau mountains. Kahana is one of the Oahu’s most humid valleys, with frequent rains and clouds. There are two short and easy but muddy trails across the park: the one-mile long Kapa’ele’ele Ko’a and Keaniani Lookout Trail and the two and half-mile long Nakoa Trail that goes through a tropical rain forest.
52-222 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaaawa, HI 96730
Olomana Hiking Trail
Olomana Three Peaks Trail is a very difficult rugged hike up three steep mountain peaks in the towns of Kailua and Waimanalo on O`ahu’s Windward coast. The first peak is a 1.5-mile steep trail called Olomana with dangerous drop offs on both sides. The second peak called Paku`i is a little less challenging, and the third peak requires ropes at times and is for experienced hikers only. Together, the three trails are about 2.5 miles long, and the elevation gain is more than 1,600 feet.
770 Auloa Rd, Kailua, Oahu, HI 96734
The Ehukai Pillbox Hike is a very popular hike on Oahu’s North Shore and can get crowded at times. Starting behind the Sunset Elementary School, it goes about 100 yards through a forest of small, thin trees. After, the trail climbs steadily up a steep hill. Be prepared to climb over small boulders, under fallen trees, across tree roots, and up some stairs dug in the hill. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the top of the flat ridge where you can enjoy spectacular views of the North shore. You can also explore the old military bunker that is open to the public.
59-178 Ke Nui Rd, Haleiwa, HI 96712
Koko Crater Railway
Koko Crater Railway trail is one of the most popular in Oahu and one of the most difficult. It is also called Koko Head Stairs, because it follows the old railway that the military used during WWII to transport cargo to the bunkers at the top of the crater. The trail starts at the Koko Head District Park parking lot. Follow the 100-yard long path past the baseball field until you reach the first step. There are exactly 1050 stairs, and they are longer and higher than normal stairs. There is even a short stretch that is flat, but it goes over a ravine, which is not fun for those who fear heights. Wear good shoes, rest often, and you will reach the top in due time, where you can enjoy the view that stretches all the way to the horizon in all directions.
7602-, 7604 Koko Head Park Rd, Honolulu, HI 96825
Moanalua Valley Trail is an easy eight-mile roundtrip hike that starts at the 1857 Ala Aolani St. This cool, shady path goes through a dense forest and crosses seven bridges over small streams. The trail is not very steep, but it is not paved, so watch for muddy spots. Follow the stream when you come to the crossroads with other paths. Don’t expect a view at the top, but the whole hike is such a pleasure you will not mind. Bring the kids and the dog, along with a lot of water.
1849 Ala Aolani St, Honolulu, HI 96819
Lanipo is a 7.5-mile hike up one of the ridges near Honolulu called Mauna Lani Heights, above the Kaimuki neighborhood. It is a very difficult hike. You will gain 3300 feet in elevation, and you will be walking on a narrow dirt trail that goes up and down following the ridge. The trail is narrow and surrounded by dense ferns so you cannot see the edge, so be careful. Don’t go if it is raining, as mud can make climbing treacherous. Higher up, you will be able to see Kaau Crater and even Waikiki on a clear day. Most of the trail is exposed with no shade, so it can get very hot.
Mau'umae Trail, Honolulu, HI 96816
Kealia trail is a 7.6-mile trail that starts at Dillingham Airfield on the North Shore of Oahu. The trail is not very difficult, but it goes up almost all the way, and you will gain 3100 feet in elevation. Start with the short rocky Kealia Trail, which has 19 switchbacks that run along the cliffside. There is a picnic table at the end of the trail with an amazing view of Mokule’ia and Haleiwa. If you continue inland, you will be hiking on the Kuaokala Access Road.
Waialua, HI 96791
The Laie Falls trail is a six miles fairly difficult trail that goes steadily up. To get to the falls, you will gain 1200 feet in elevation. The fall is a small 15-foot waterfall with a very light flow of water in the summer, but it gets more interesting during the rainy season. The trail changes from an old worn-out path into a road that goes through wide-open fields and groves of strawberry guava trees and Cook pine trees. It offers great views of the town of La'ie and the ocean.
55-261 Poohaili St, Laie, HI 96762
Aihualama Trail is a 1.3-mile trail that crosses through lush bamboo forests and passes massive banyan trees. It goes in and out of gulches over a series of 14 switchbacks along the upper west side of Manoa Valley. The elevation gain is 1200 feet. If you want to extend the hike, you can also do Pauoa Flats Trail. Along the trail, you will be able to glimpse views of Diamond Head Crater, Honolulu, and Manoa Valley.
Na Ala Hele: Aihualama Trail, Honolulu, HI 96822
Hawaii‘loa Ridge Trail
Hawai‘iloa Ridge Trail is a 3.5-mile long trail that follows the ridge up to the top of the Ko‘olau‘s. The first two thirds of the trail go up through a forest of ‘ilima, uluhe, and strawberry guava. The last third runs on the open ridge through ohi‘a-koa-akia forest. This trail is quite steep; you will gain 1,700 feet in elevation, and there is a rope to assist hikers in some places – it is not for the beginners. The trail offers spectacular views of the Oahu’s Leeward side.
Puuikena Dr Honolulu, HI 96821
Judd Trail is a short trail less than a mile long that starts below an open area surrounded by the ironwood trees just off Nuuanu Pali Drive. Cross the stream, but be careful. The rocks are slippery and unstable. As the trail forms a loop, you can start going in either direction. The wide and flat trail runs through pleasant bamboo, eucalyptus, and ironwood forest along with several gullies.
Nuuanu Pali Dr Honolulu, HI 96817
Ualaka’a Trail is a fairly flat trail less than a mile long that begins in Pu‘u ‘Ualaka‘a State Park. This short loop trail runs through wonderful thick, shady pine forest canopy and is perfect for hiking with the kids. The trail starts with a short climb with two switchbacks. After you pass through two rows of Cook pines, you will see some macadamia nut trees and several large banyans. At the end of the `Ualaka`a Trail is a bench with a trail map. It is also a junction with four other trails.
'Ualaka'a Trail, Honolulu, HI 96822
Kolowalu and Puu Pia
Kolowalu and Puu Pia trail is difficult 7.1-mile trail that will take you deep into the West Maui Mountains while gaining 1100 feet in elevation. The trail runs through Olowalu Valley, starting on dirt roads and continuing on an old trail until it completely disappears. The best way to continue is through the streambed when possible and along the stream banks when it gets too deep or too rough. The hike is very pleasant as it runs through the cool, shaded canyon surrounded by lush vegetation, with tall towering cliffs and narrows.
3662 Alani Dr, Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96822
Hauula Loop Trail, a 2.5-mile loop trail located near Hauula, is one of three trails in the Hauula Forest Reserve. The trail is well-maintained and goes steadily up through a series of switchbacks. There are no really steep parts, and you will gain 931 feet without much effort while making your way through a lush jungle. The trail is wet at times, and there are some spots with wet slippery rocks. At the top of the trail you will have a nice view of the green expanse of Ko’olau Range and of Lai’e.
54-223 Kamehameha Hwy, PO Box 223, Hauula, Oahu, HI 96717
Kolekole Trail - Puu Hapapa via Honouliuli Contour Trail is a strenuous 0.8-mile loop trail near Wahiawa, mostly on Army land. Kolekole Trail takes you to Puu Hapapa, one of the highest mountains on the Waianae range. The trail is well graded at the beginning and passes by the famous sacrificial rock up to the Lualualei overlook. It continues through the California grass first and then through a tunnel of trees. After you pass an eroded section and a stand of paper bark trees, you can choose a path through two notches or take the easier Honouliuli Contour Trail, where you will pass a creek and go up a finger ridge to Puu Hapapa at 2800 feet. The views of Schofiled are spectacular.
Kolekole Rd, Wahiawa, HI 96786
Lulumahu Falls Trail is a two-mile long loop trail near Honolulu. The trail is located just off the Pali Highway on Oahu, and is not an official trail. It is not maintained and there are no signs for guidance. In fact, there actually is no trail – it is more of a scramble. The scenery changes from bamboo forest to open, grassy hills to a reservoir and a lush, tropical waterfall. You will cross a creek a few times, scramble over large boulders, jump over fallen trees, and climb steadily up until you reach the magnificent 50-feet tall waterfall tucked into a narrow humid canyon with lush vines draping the walls.
4459 Pali Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96817
Only a mile and half from the trailhead at the parking lot at the top of Manoa Road, Manoa Falls trail is one of the better-maintained jungle trails in Oahu. From the gate at the parking lot, the trail goes steadily up through a deep, lush mountain valley with a shady canopy of fragrant ginger, tall bamboo, guava, and eucalyptus trees. The trail is wide and gravelly at the beginning, with lot of mud after the rain, but it gets more challenging the last 100 yards before the fall. You will have to climb over some boulders and tree roots before you reach the 150-foot tall waterfall cascading down the mountainside into a pool full of rocks.
End of Manoa Road, Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96822