Wiliwilinui Ridge Revisted: An Exploration of Bunkers and Battery Wilridge (Willy)

I am fortunate that my job allows me to have a very flexible schedule. I’m a lecturer at the local University here, and so my schedule is very much like that of your typical college student. This means that I have a reasonable amount of free time on my hands. Oh yeah, I also still get winter break. Yes, being a University instructor is awesome.

The weather has been somewhat unpredictable over the last couple of weeks. Hardly any sunshine makes for a bum time. However, there were a few days that we did get a sparkle of Hawaiian sun. It just so happened that a couple days after Christmas, we were blessed with a sunny day. I decided to hit the trails with my cousin, Mike. Our options for the day was either an exciting yet long hike through Koloa Gulch, with Baron, Aprille, and a few other local hikers, or, Wiliwilinui Ridge, a hike that I’ve done in the past but Mike has never experienced. Mike and I decided that we would forego waking up in the wee hours of the morning and instead choose the much shorter, but still beautiful, Wiliwilinui Ridge.

It's on like Donkey King, now. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

It’s on like Donkey King, now. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Getting those smooth legs all scratched up. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Getting those smooth legs all scratched up. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

One of my favorite shots of the day. The tree looks like it's going to reach out and grab you. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

One of my favorite shots of the day. The tree looks like it’s going to reach out and grab you. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Since I last visited nearly a year ago, there were two notable changes to the Wiliwilinui trail that I noticed. First, the colorfuly painted wooden swing in the clearing, midway through the hike, is no longer there. Bummer. Second, there have been a few more plastic erosion guards/steps installed in the last third of the hike. Other than that, same hike with the same beautiful view of Hawaii Kai and the Windward side.

I think Mike had an awesome time. For the non-hiker, Wiliwilinui offers some pretty stunning views both while you are working your way to the summit and when you’re at the top. It’s also a lovely cardio workout. Mike bikes a lot, but despite that, he thought that Wiliwilinui was a scorcher. I told him that it only felt that way because his legs weren’t used to this specific type of workout. That just means that we need to go on a few more hikes!

Almost there. Not really. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Almost there. Not really. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Resting. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Resting. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

This is what Mike is looking at. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

This is what Mike is looking at. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

With 5 other people at the summit, we didn’t linger around too long. We soaked in the views and then got the heck out of there. I did get to snap a photo of a rather charming labradoodle, who ended up being a ham in front of the camera. We revered track and on the way down I was fiddling with my iPhone, Instagramming of all things, slipped, and landed hard on my ass in some mud. Nice!

Kinda almost there. Not really. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Kinda almost there. Not really. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

OMG. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

OMG. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Two Instagram addicts. Follow @cotygonzales and @_imike09 on Instagram! Photo by Mike Armstrong.

Two Instagram addicts. Follow @cotygonzales and @_imike09 on Instagram! Photo by Mike Armstrong.

The labradoodle made it. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The labradoodle made it. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The real objective for the day was to find Battery Willridge [1], also known as Battery Willy, Battery Wiliwilinui, and Battery Lewis S. Kirkpatrick Military Reservation. Yes, lot’s of names for this particular set of bunkers. Based on previous accounts, we were told that we would be able to find two different bunkers, a small one and a much larger one. There is a third bunker, however, it is located on private land and therefore cannot be accessed. The rumor is that the owner converted the bunker into a man den. Pretty cool, if true. Can I get a tour?

We located the smaller of the two bunkers very easily. However, the second bunker was more of a challenge. So much of challenge that we left that day without finding the second bunker. Instead, I found, what looked like a homeless mans living space. Complete with tend, table, and plastic chairs. A homeless person living in the mountains of Waialae Iki, a few minutes from someones multi-million dollar mansion. Neat!

The following day, I returned with Joel and Christian. As soon as Christian pointed out the second bunker, I shook my head because Mike and I had been a few feet from it the day before. I guess the tall grass camouflaged it enough that we simply did not see it. We quickly made our way down the steps into the bunker. It was huge. Definitely the biggest bunker that I’ve been in, outside of Battery Cooper at Kualoa Ranch. This was one actually ran underneath the neighboring multi-million dollar home. Super cool. As we made our way through the bunker, my freaking brand new Canon 7D accidentally found its way down one of the holes inside of the bunker. Luckily, the camera was okay. Whew. We then had a blast playing around with long exposure inside of the dark bunkers. Fun times.

Looking out of the entrance to the first bunker. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Looking out of the entrance to the first bunker. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Entrance to the second bunker. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Inside the bunker. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Inside the bunker. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Old metal. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Old metal. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Christian peeking out. Just outside of this bunker is a multi-millon dollar mansion. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Christian peeking out. Just outside of this bunker is a multi-millon dollar mansion. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

One of the rooms inside the larger bunker. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

One of the rooms inside the larger bunker. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Hidden bunker. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Hidden bunker. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

It's really dark down in the bunkers, so we thought we try out hand at some long exposure light fun. Photo by Coty Gonzales/Christian Young.

It’s really dark down in the bunkers, so we thought we try out hand at some long exposure light fun. Photo by Coty Gonzales/Christian Young.

Creepy doors. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Creepy doors. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Creepy chair. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Creepy chair. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Creepy Ghost. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Creepy Ghost. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Ceiling. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Ceiling. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

One of two uncovered military gun barbettes in the area. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

One of two uncovered military gun barbettes in the area. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Explorers: Mike Armstrong, Coty Gonzales, Joel Sabugo, and Christian Young.

Total Distance: 5 miles roundtrip

Total Time: ~2.5-3 hours

Directions to the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail: The Wiliwilinui trail is located before the Hawaii Loa Ridge Trail. Make your way on to H1 east bound and continue on to Kalanianaole Highway and then turn left on to Laukahi Street, just past Kalani High School. Follow the road up to the guard station at the start of the Waialae Iki subdivision. Request a parking permit from the guard. Follow the street to the end (there will be signs on the street point hikers to the right direction) and park in the designated parking lot for hikers.


1. From a report done by the U.S. Army Engineer District, Pacific Ocean Division, Fort Shafter, Hawaii:

SITE HISTORY: Battery Willy was located on approximately 95.68 acres, including utility and roadway easements. Parcels comprising the total acreage were acquired from the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate by the Army through a license dated 1 September 1943 and lease W-414-eng-6227, date unknown. The largest portion, approximately 83.81 acres, was acquired retroactively by Declaration of Taking (Civil No. 592) filed in August 1945 against the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate et al. The Army actually began occupying the site as early as July 1942. Constructed in 1942 for coastal defense, Battery Willy consisted of two twin eight-inch gun turrets removed from the USS aircraft carriers Lexington and Saratoga. Underground structures included a concrete plotting room, powder and projectile magazines, a power plant, a command post, and a steel frame ammunition magazine. Aboveground improvements, including enlisted personnel and officers quarters, a mess hall, a truck shed, a tool shed, a latrine, two wooden water tanks, two water pump houses, overhead electrical lines, and nine 10 KVA transformers, were removed by the landowner subsequent to property disposal. The license acquired in September 1943 was terminated in December 1944. Lease no. W-414-eng-6227 was terminated in August 1945. By Judgment filed in March 195 1,83.8 1 acres condemned by Declaration of Taking were excluded from the taking and revested in the title of its former owners. The site has since been, and continues to be, developed into an exclusive residential community. The upper reaches of the site are within lands set aside as the Honolulu Watershed forest reserve under the purview of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. The Honolulu Police Department and the Army 6th Ordnance Detachment have not received any reports of OEW discovered at the site. Likewise, the landowner/developer also has not encountered OEW during extensive earthwork and areal grading of the site.

About Coty

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

8 comments

  1. Looks like interesting and hopefully to visit one day! Have u been on the ridge before wiliwili nui? If not check it out…Hawaii loa to waialae nui

  2. Wait, where are the bunkers? I did the Wiliwilinui Ridge and didn’t see any… I love checking out the old military bunkers. On a side note, do you have a list of old bunkers around the island? Thank you for detailing your hiking adventures, I use them as guides =)

    • Glad you enjoyed the post! Maybe I’ll put together a list of trails that lead to bunkers on the island. That might be cool and useful. And yeah, love Punynari’s blog!

  3. Thank you so much! My late father-in-law was in coast artillery at Wilridge and I was thrilled to find your site and photos! Sharing with my children who never knew their grandfather.

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