Lanipo Trail: A Rollercoaster of a Trail up Mau’umae Ridge

Lanipo has been a long time coming. This particular hike, also known as Mauumae Ridge, has been on my hiking radar for a few months now. It has a reputation for being one of the more difficult (state maintained) east-side trails.

“This onset of the unshaded ridge is probably what makes Mau’umae one of the most hellish trails on the island; the trek back on the unshaded section of the ridge was a scorcher, and it was so bad that I almost fainted.” Kaleo Lancaster

“The shape of this ridge goes up then down then up then down then…well you get the picture. Combine this with the mud and you’ve got a hike that’s sort of an endurance challenge. Try as we might, we all ended up on our asses several times, our knees were sore and shaky, and when the sun burned through the clouds it felt like we were hiking in an oven.” David C.

For the most part, I agree with Kaleo and David. The constant rollercoaster of hills and false summits is what makes Lanipo somewhat of an excruciating experience. You gain elevation only to lose it shortly thereafter and this process repeats itself until you’re left wondering “what the heck did I get myself into?”

Ahnate at the start of the hike. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
A handful of strawberry guava. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Ahnate leading the way. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Coty looking around. Photo by Gentaro Shishimi.
Branches and Honolulu. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

If it’s views that you’re after then it’s difficult for me not to recommend Lanipo. From the start, you are treated to magnificent views of downtown Honolulu, Palolo, and Manoa. And when I say from the start, I literally mean from the start. Unlike other ridge hikes that require you to meander through valley before reaching the ridge crest, Lanipo forgoes this and instead offers a true ridge walking experience shortly after passing the trailhead sign.

Once you’ve taken in the initial sights, be prepared to lose significant elevation. The trail will descend down into a saddle. Some other blogs have reported this initial descent as very steep, however, I found it to be more gradual than anything else. I didn’t find it very difficult at all and was a bit let down. I was expecting a hair raising descent of sorts, but got none of that. The end of the saddle will lead you to a clearing with a nice lookout bench. Based on observation, it seems like many people hike out to this point and then turn around. It does make for an excellent rest section if you do decided to trudge forward.

Diamond Head not too far away. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
A very large blooming Ohia Lehua. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Can you spot Ahnate, Joel, and Gentaro? Photo by Coty Gonzales.
The bench lookout spot early on in the hike. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Continue past the bench and you should encounter strawberry guava’s that are ripe for the picking. We stopped as a group here and gathered a handful for our journey to the Lanipo summit. If you haven’t tried a strawberry guava then you should, especially on the trails, because they provide a nice energy boost. It was Gentaro’s first time trying them and he was pleasantly surprised.

Once you’ve had your fix of strawberry guava, jump back on the Lanipo roller coaster. Eventually, you’ll reach an area filled with scratchy uhule. This is the point in the hike when the rest of the crew was wishing they had worn pants! Fortunately, I had worn both pants and a long sleeve shirt. I was saved from the brutal uhule.

Joel’s feet. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Inside Ka’au Crater. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Ahnate and Gentaro talking story. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Gentaro decided to climb a tree. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The farther along the trail you venture, the muddier the trail will become. We did notice the trail get more wet that farther in we got, but we were indeed lucky that the trail wasn’t too muddy. There are a few sections with rope to assist with steep climbs. These sections are quite short, though, and shouldn’t be much of a worry. However, if you go on a muddy day, prepare to get a little messy.

As you get closer to the summit you will pass Kaau Crater, which will be on your left. On this day, we noticed a few people climbing up the third waterfall and making their way around the crater rim in a counterclockwise fashion. We kept our eye on them, and occasionally checked on their progress as we trekked forward.

On our way to the summit of Lanipo. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
At the summit looking toward Honolulu with Konahuanui to the right. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Joel and Ahnate enjoying the view. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Coty posing. Photo by Joel Sabugo.
Finally at the top! We were all very stoked. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Once at the summit of Lanipo, we all soaked in the views. It was a particularly clear day, which made the summit that much more rewarding. It would have sucked if we had come all this way only to find ourselves socked in and head high in the clouds. The opposite of this was true and instead of hazy clouds, we had a clear view of the Windward coast ahead of us and Konahuanui to our left.

As a treat for making it to the top, Joel unpacked some home cooked cookies from his CamelBak. These weren’t ordinary cookies though and certainly not like anything that your mom makes. The previous night, Joel experimented with a recipe and made chocolate chip cookies stuffed with Oreo cookies (see recipe below). We sat and enjoyed the stunning view while munching on epic JOELmade cookies. Amazing hike, amazing friends, and amazing cookies. The only thing that was missing was the milk.

Explorers: Coty Gonzales, Ahnate Lim, Joel Sabugo, and Gentaro Shishimi.

The Cookie Monster. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Of cookies and Olomana. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Ahnate enjoying a chocolate chip cookie stuffed with an Oreo cookie. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Ahnate and Gentaro checking out Ka’au Crater. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Ahnate acting a fool. Photo by Gentaro Shishimi.
The required group shot. Photo by Ahnate Lim.

Total Time: 5 hours roundtrip.

Lanipo Ridge Trail Tips:

  • Be sure to bring lots of water. My 2L Camelbak was dry by the end of the hike. It’s a good thing that I had an extra bottle of Gatorade.
  • There’s a lack of shade on this trail, so be sure to slap on the sunscreen.

Directions To Lanipo Ridge: Take the H-1 eastbound and the take Koko Head Avenue cutoff and turn left. You will continue across Wai’alae Avenue, and then turn slightly left and then right to get onto Sierra Drive. You will continue to follow Sierra and then turn right onto Maunalani Circle. Parking is available on the street next to a chain-link fence and a Board of Water Supply tank. The narrow pathway between fences is the start of the trailhead.

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe:


  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • 3/4 Cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla
  • 3 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 10 oz bag chocolate chips
  • 1 bag Oreo Cookies, I used the double stuff


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a stand or electric mixer cream butter and sugars until well combined. Add in eggs and vanilla until well combined.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda. Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined. Using a cookie scoop take one scoop of cookie dough and place on top of an Oreo Cookie. Take another scoop of dough and place on bottom of Oreo Cookie. Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until Oreo Cookie is enclosed with dough. Place onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake cookies 9-13 minutes or until cookies are baked to your liking. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Serve with a tall glass of milk, enjoy!

Makes about 2 dozen VERY LARGE Cookies (that are out of this world amazeballs). This recipe is courtesy of the Picky Palate by Jenny Flake. Please visit Jenny’s site for more amazing recipes!

By Coty

Founder of Exploration: Hawaii. Adventure, Minimalism, Vinyl, Typography, and Coffee + Matcha. A single space after a period, please.

4 replies on “Lanipo Trail: A Rollercoaster of a Trail up Mau’umae Ridge”

Thanks Malia! Glad that you enjoy the site 🙂 …and that cookie recipe is awesome! Please Like us on Facebook too to stay up to date with future posts and daily pics!

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