See my YouTube of this hike here
This is the hike to take if you want to get away from the crowds, I saw about 10 people whilst taking this hike. It’s scenic, it’s rather strenuous if you go at any sort of pace, especially if you continue after the 'trail ends'. It can be technical but so much fun.
Taking the number 14 bus up to the top of St Louis Heights, and following the signpost to the Wa’ahila Ridge Recreational Area, brings you to the start of the trail. You will find a restroom in the recreational area, make sure you go before you start the hike!! And take water with you.
Following the sign pointing to the Mt Trail brings you onto the first section of the hike, which is rooty and starts climbing immediately. The rooty theme continues throughout the hike, as you further progress, the boulder and rock climbs get more difficult.
After a short walk up and through the forest you are eventually walking on a metre-wide ridge, with a valley to each side, one looking down on Waikiki, Honolulu and the Pacific, the other looks across to other ridge lines. It’s not scary at all but can sometimes reduce in width for short distances, there’s plenty of trees to catch you should you fall! You won’t fall, it’s really fine.
Eventually you come to a sign-post which tells you the Wa’ahila Trail is at an end. If you want to continue to Mount Olympus you take the right-most trail at this point.
The terrain gets steeper, with the rooty and rocky theme continuing. The first rocks to clamber up are reasonably easy, but get increasingly steep as the hike progresses. There are some anchored ropes to help you up and down the steeper rock climbs, and steeper inclines. I only used the ropes on the way down as I was in a hurry, but you don’t have to, there are plenty of roots to cling on to.
You will come to two or three small grassy landings, around 5 metres in diameter, these are not the ‘clearing’ everyone speaks of, the clearing is around 20 metres in diameter.
From this clearing you have a 360 degree scenic view. There is an up-draft of very hot air coming from one direction and a cool wind coming from the other. This combination of winds is new to me and so cool. It's a fab spot to have something to eat and drink, before continuing or heading back.
On a sunny day there is shade you can shelter in, but you will need sun protection as most of the hike is in the sunshine. We had had rain all day, with a torrential downpour, thunder and lightning the day before I hiked, with localised flooding. Even though I hiked just the day after this, the ground was not muddy at all, my trainers were barely dirty. The soil seems to be sandy and very quick drying. But note, trainers, sneakers or hiking boots are required, not flip-flops.
I made the mistake of leaving for my hike too late, taking the 12:41 bus. By the time I reached the clearing it was gone four o’clock, with another hour to the summit of Mount Olympus. As the sunsets around six, I didn’t have time to get to the summit and out of the park by sunset, so I had to turn around and make my way back from the clearing. I wouldn’t want to negotiate that climb in the dark without a head-torch.
Even though I failed to get to Mount Olympus, this was the most enjoyable hike I’ve done thus far, better than Diamond Head, Koko Head and Manoa Falls, by a long way. Not only due to the scenic view all the way up, but due to the technical difficulty as well. It’s quite strenuous, you’d need to not have knee problems to do the extended hike, there are some large steps to negotiate. Perhaps just up to the sign would be OK if you are not too fit.
I managed to get down from the clearing in just over an hour, but was running most of the way, which was fun. I think if you didn’t keep stopping to take photos, you could get to the clearing in less than two hours. But really this hike deserves a day of your time, giving you enough time to take in the sights, perhaps a picnic at the clearing and making the summit of Mount Olympus. Which btw you can see from the clearing.
Another must-do hike when on Oahu!
To find go to the Wa'ahila Ridge Recreation Park, it’s on Google maps. Keep walking up the hill until the car park ends, a little beyond there you will find the Mt Trail sign.
Get there by bus take the number 14 all the way to the turn around point at the top of the hill
Facilities in the recreation area
Picnic tables and benches
Costs Nothing! To park or hike
There are no facilities on the hike, make sure you use the restroom and take plenty of water with you and some snacks.