Looking for the fastest route to eastern portion of the Koolau Summit Trail? This is it. I’d have to say that the hike up Kamehame Ridge via the private access road is even easier than the hikes up to Diamond Head and the Makapuu Lighthouse. Kamehame Ridge will get you to the KST even faster than Mariner’s Ridge. If you choose to do this hike then don’t blink, you might miss half of it. For a more epic experience, choose to take this route instead.
Not too many people know of Kamehame Ridge trail. It’s sort of a little secret with locals and those that live within this posh community. To access the trail, you simply drive to the end of Kamehame Drive. At the very end of the public road, you will see a brown metal gate, and a sign indicating “Private Property.” On the day that I visited, it just so happened that the community security guard, yes, this non-gated community has its very own security personnel, pulled up to the end of the road just as I had parked my car. I thought to myself, “oh great, there goes my hike.” I debated as to whether I should call it a day and drive back home, or, just try cross the metal gate and see if the security would try to stop me. I gave it a shot.
I stepped out of my car, and as soon as I did, I noticed a large group of females making their way down the hill, on the opposite side of the metal gate. They had just finished the hike. I timed my steps perfectly so that we would intersect at the metal gate. Surely, the guard wouldn’t stop me since this other group had just done the hike, right? I was right. He didn’t care. I even waved at him, and he waved back. I was off to the top. I just hoped that he wouldn’t have my car towed.
Almost as soon as I passed the gate, it started to rain. This wasn’t light drizzles, either, it was coming down hard. I thought to myself, “what else could go wrong?” I picked up my pace and within 5 minutes or so, the showers had gone away. The clouds quickly moved makai and I continued mauka. I made it to the top of Kamehame Ridge within thirty minutes or so. This was with many stops to take photographs. I am sure that if you just went straight up without breaks, you could do it within fifteen to twenty minutes.
The views from the KST were magic. It was amazing up there. I almost forgot about all the rain that we’ve been experiencing the last couple of weeks. As you reach the top portion of the road, which will begin to run parallel to the ridge, you will need to look for an opening on your right that will lead you to the rocky ridge. Cross over some concrete steps and the trail will lead you straight to the hang glider launch pad. When I arrived, there was a guy sitting on the launch pad. He seemed oblivious to me and thoroughly engulfed in the views. It wasn’t unti I started to set up my tripod that he noticed I was there. A few moments later, two of his lady friends showed up. They hung out on the cement slab, while I started snapping away. I forgot just how amazing this portion of the KST looked. It had been a while. Too long, in fact.
For a good time, check out this GIF.
Explorers: Coty Gonzales
Total Distance: 2 miles roundtrip.
Total Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour roundtrip.
Kamehame Ridge Trail Tips:
- You may notice a guard in a “Securitas” car patrolling the area. I believe that they are simply patrolling the homes and not the private access road. In fact, when I checked out this trail, the security was parked right in front of the trailhead. As I passed him, I waved and he waved back. Also, as I was starting the trail, a bunch of moms were coming down with strollers. The guard did not stop any of us or question any of us.
- 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 Kamehame 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 right on Hawaii Kai Drive. Continue on Hawaii Kai Drive and then turn left on Maunanani Street and then turn right on Kamehame Drive.Â The trailhead is located at the end of Kamehame Drive. Find street parking.