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A Visit To Pahua Heiau and a Hike Up Kamiloiki Ridge Trail

The Kamiloiki Ridge Trail is a fine hike that will get you to the Koolau Summit in a relatively short amount of time. It’s also an unsanctioned and non-state trail, so if you do decide to do this one, it will be at your own risk. In many way’s, Kamiloiki is a mirror image to Mariner’s Ridge, Kuliouou Ridge, and Wiliwilinui Ridge, without the minor nuances of each. For instance, it won’t be as busy as Mariner’s Ridge, which sees very heavy traffic because of its popularity. You won’t have to deal with the constant switchbacks that pervade the Kuliouou Trail. Finally, you get to bypass the long dirt road at the start of Wiliwilunui. With that said, Kamiloiki Ridge might be my favorite eastern route up to the Koolaus.

Pahua Heiau Plaque. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Pahua Heiau Plaque. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Kapu. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Kapu. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Left side Pahua Heiau. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Left side Pahua Heiau. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Ruins of Pahua Heiau. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Ruins of Pahua Heiau. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The trailhead of Kamiloiki will offer your first major landmark, so have your camera ready from the very start. Pahua Heiau is located at the very end of Makahuena Place in Hawaii Kai (see directions below) and at the end of the ridge dividing Kamilonui and Kamiloiki Valleys. The heiau, which is roughly 68 by 40 feet, was dedicated to the ancient Hawaiian god of agriculture, is thought to have been built in the 14th century. The plaque on the surrounding wall suggests that the heiau was restored between 1984 and 1985 by the Hawaii Kai members of the Outdoor Circle.

To continue on the Kamiloiki trail, carefully find a faint trail to the left of the heiau. As you make your way to the back of the heiau, you should see some ribbons. On the day that I visited, there was an abundance of orange ribbons. The climb up from the heiau to reach the ridge line is short, sweet, and a little steep. Watch your step as you navigate around loose rocks and a few narrow sections. Once on the ridge line, you’ll be able to look back and see the large back profile of Koko Crater.

The trail to the summit is a mini roller coaster type hike, akin to Lanipo Ridge. The ups and downs, though, are not as intense as Lanipo. The trail itself is fairly wide open. There are a few sections in which you will need to contour large boulders, but they shouldn’t pose much danger, just be careful. Another thing to note about Kamiloiki Ridge is that there will be no shade for the first two-thirds of the hike. The ridge will be completely exposed, so be sure to put on some sunscreen. The final third of the trail will be an ironwood forrest. A few switchbacks will then take you to the summit of Kamiloiki Ridge and you’ll set foot on the eastern portion of the Koolau Summit Trail.

The view from the top was great, and then the clouds came rolling in. I had about 5 minutes worth of a clear view and then the rain came pouring down. And as so as soon as I was got there, I was gone. Kamiloiki Ridge offers a nice alternative to some of the state trails within the same area, albeit being a little more rugged and exposed.

Explorers: Coty Gonzales

Once you reach the ridge line, you should be able to quickly find the dirt trail. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Once you reach the ridge line, you should be able to quickly find the dirt trail. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Looking back toward Koko Crater. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Looking back toward Koko Crater. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

A mini roller coaster of a ridge. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

A mini roller coaster of a ridge. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

View from the Kamiloiki summit. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

View from the Kamiloiki summit. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The clear view quickly became cloudy. A few minutes after reaching the summit, it started to rain. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The clear view quickly became cloudy. A few minutes after reaching the summit, it started to rain. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Total Distance: 3.69 miles roundtrip.

Total Time: 2 hours and 50 minutes roundtrip.

Kamiloiki Ridge Trail Tips:

  • Be respectful when parking in the neighborhood and accessing the trailhead.
  • Sunscreen is a must, a large portion of the trail is on a very exposed ridge.

Directions to Kamiloiki Ridge Trail: Head eastbound on H1, towards Hawaii Kai. H1 will eventually become Kalanianaole Highway. Just before Hanauma Bay, you will turn left onto Lunalilo Home Road and then turn left on Hawaii Kai Drive. Almost immediately, you will turn right onto Waioli Street and then immediately left onto Makahuena Place. The trailhead is located at the end of Makahuena Place. Find street parking.

About Coty

Founder of Exploration: Hawaii, Blogger, Hiker, Foodie, Apple Aficionado, T-Shirt Enthusiast, Psychologist, and Rogue Scientist.

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