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Kamehame Ridge: The Fastest Route To The Ko’olau’s

Note: Kamehame Ridge trail is a closed trail and is not open to the public. As our disclaimer partially reads: “I’m not your daddy, these are dangerous as sh*t hikes, even the simple ones, if you got club feet don’t even think about it yo, and if you or your estate tries to put this on me for damages I will F*ck your Sh*t up, I know some Samoans who can do it too.”

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. [update: Not anymore. Kamehameha Schools and Bishop Estates have been cracking down on hikers here. Some hikers have reported a guard that is now present to issue citations and call the police for arrests.] 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.

This gate is the trailhead.

This gate is the trailhead.

Follow the paved road and you will pass a water tank on your left.

Follow the paved road and you will pass a water tank on your left.

Enter this gate.

Enter this gate.

Blind curves ahead.

Blind curves ahead.

Spread Aloha. Not Germs.

Spread Aloha. Not Germs.

Within 20-30 minutes or so, you should reach this portion of the road. Look for the opening on your right that will bring you to the ridge. This should be pretty noticeable. There may or may not be ribbons. It should be a dirt opening, but there will also be concrete steps.

Within 20-30 minutes or so, you should reach this portion of the road. Look for the opening on your right that will bring you to the ridge. This should be pretty noticeable. There may or may not be ribbons. It should be a dirt opening, but there will also be concrete steps.

As you make your way to the ridge, you should come across these wooden and concrete steps.

As you make your way to the ridge, you should come across these wooden and concrete steps.

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 just hoped that he wouldn’t have my car towed.

Soon after, 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 the 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.

Just past the concrete steps and once on the ridge, this will be the major landmark that you will see.

Just past the concrete steps and once on the ridge, this will be the major landmark that you will see.

High above, looking down.

High above, looking down.

Looking toward Kaneohe.

Looking toward Kaneohe.

Rabbit Island in the background.

Rabbit Island in the background.

Feet in the wind.

Feet in the wind.

Had some time to fool around.

Had some time to fool around.

Closest thing to being a superhero.

Closest thing to being a superhero.

For a good time, check out this GIF.

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. This is no longer the case. People are now reporting that citations are being handed out and people are being arrested for trespassing.
  • 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. The trailhead is located at the end of Kamehame Drive. Find street parking.

About Coty

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

10 comments

    • Hi Raisa, the trailhead is very simple to find and the trail itself is very short. You pretty much can’t get lost. If you have any specific questions, post them here and I can try to answer them!!

  1. Where did you park your car in front of people house ? I’m going to Hawaii alone in end of September do I think it’s dangerous for a girl to go ??

  2. HI Raisa – i am going to attempt this monday the 9th … sept! If you would like to go you can shoot me an e-mail at [email protected] it will be my bf and i and our 2 doggies… question for you Coty: dog friendly … assuming they aren’t JUMPERS!! thanks for all the great info – you are AWESOME

    • Thanks Nic! Enjoy and stay safe out there! Also, hope to see you around this website more – lots of useful info for your Hawaii hiking needs. Check the “Hikes” page in the upper right hand menu for a list of ALL the hikes featured here!

  3. Just want to see the views!
    Reply

    Wanting to do this hike/walk sometime soon. Came across your review of it first. Found it very helpful! Next was reading some comments on Yelp of this hike. Very discouraging to read someone who wrote in four days ago (Dec 13) who attempted to do this hike but was turned away by “landowners” who were yelling at them for trespassing. Also supposedly said that starting next week (Christmas week?) “the security guard will be personally handing out tickets, and they will have a police on standby as well.”
    Just wondering if you or anyone else who is reading this has had a similar situation recently? Is this really true?
    I personally find it so sad that the community cannot enjoy this amazing view.

    • Yes, unfortunately this is the case. That said, there is some very important FCC equipment at the top of the ridge. Coupled with the fact that the trail leading up is on private land, it is understandable that they are cracking down.

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