Kamaile’unu ridge divides the Makaha and Wai’anae valleys and offers excellent views of both throughout the ~3.5 mile trail to its terminus. The views come at a great cost, however. One is able to fully see both valleys, and beyond, because there is little to no shade on this ridge hike. This can make the hike brutal on a sunny day. I was lucky to have hiked this trail when it was cloudy and often times were even too cold!
The trail is considered “honest” by many hikers because the trail is straightforward and, much like the Koko Crater stairs, is a trail that gains elevation throughout the trek. There are a couple short sections where the trail goes down, but they won’t last very long. The ascend is fairly steep throughout with just one section where the elevation gain becomes very gradual. This makes for a great cardio hike that takes you to the 4th highest point (3314 ft) on the island, even higher than Konahuanui.
Directions: The trail is very close to Farrington highway. Whether going clockwise or counter clockwise on the island, make a turn onto Maiuu Road from Farrington. This road will be close to the beginning of the ridge and right between Makaha and Wai’anae valley. Maiuu Road will be just past Wai’anae high school if going north on Farrington or Wai’anae Shopping Center if going south.
Once on Maiuu, go straight to the end right before the road turns left. The trail head is right before the road turns. At the end of Maiuu road, look to your right before the road turns and you should see some ribbons and an obvious trail going up. This will take you to the ridgeline of Kamaile’unu. Maiuu Road may not be the safest place to park, however. You may wish to park in a block or 2 over and walk to the trail afterwards.
The trail should now be straightforward from here on out. There will be some ribbons along the way but they are generally not needed. You will encounter some rock faces, while not extremely challenging to negotiate, they can all be contoured. Near the beginning, you will also encounter a Heiau (temple – looks like a bed of rocks on the trail) and it is suggested to walk around it rather than on top out of respect.
The trail will start out as a straight line, but will soon begin to turn towards Wai’anae valley. Soon, you will encounter a fence along the ridge. You can walk along the fence or go down to parallel the fence with a wider walking space. The fence portion will not last too long. As you get closer to the end, keep an eye out for a puka. The puka will be on the middle of the trail and will be slightly hidden as the ground makes up the bottom of the puka. You will have to look under a rocky section to find it. It is fairly large and offers a nice perspective for both Makaha and Wai’anae valley.
While the trail is somewhat narrow at times, it is not narrow enough to elicit panic or any danger. The ridge is very sturdy except for a few spots near the end. The trickiest portions would be some of the rock faces, but again, they can be avoided if you choose to. You should both see and hear many mountain goats on this trail. You may even find a good number of goat bones along the way. A lot of goats sneezed in my general direction before running off.
A common spot to end the trail will be a large, circular stone platform before a steep saddle. If you go down the saddle, you will encounter a difficult rock face. More experienced climbers can continue on the trail to exit via Kawiwi or even continue onto No Name Peak, Three Poles and connect to the highest point on the island, Mt. Ka’ala. Much like Ohulehule, Ka’ala has many spur ridges and offers hikers multiple points of entry.
One word of caution is to avoid minimalist shoes. While my Fivefingers were ideal for me going up, the odd shaped rocks were extremely annoying on the return trip. The ascend trip took me 3.5 hours but the descend took me about 5 hours (I spent some time waiting for the sunset as well however). 8 hours would be a good estimate for average time and it will depend largely on the weather. Bring plenty of water if you hike on a sunny day and keep some in your car as well. The hike is great for cardio and offers excellent views of the East Wai’anaes.