Hiking the Kuliouou Ridge Trail

For my second trip to Hawaii, I wanted to do something bigger. Bigger than Diamond Head, bigger than the Kaniakapupu Ruins. So I picked the Kuliouou ridge trail hike. It’s about five miles from the trailhead to the top and back again, plus an extra 1.3 miles from the bus stop. Armed with lots of water, snacks, and lunch, I set off at about 8:00 in the morning.

After winding through a neighborhood, you reach the trailhead. Quite quickly, the trail splits in two. The paved path goes to the Kuliouou valley trail, so I took the unpaved path that immediately began sloping upward.

The trail segues into a series of switchbacks. Almost all of the trail is wooded, so even though it’s uphill the whole way, you’re in the shade and it’s actually quite pleasant.

After the switchbacks, you come upon a set of picnic benches set up under a shelter. By this time it had gotten windy, so it was nice to have a wall when I sat down to take a break.

After the picnic benches, the trail continues on through a pine forest, which makes for quite the change from the switchback section of the trail. It gets even windier on this section, and I actually found myself getting cold, though not cold enough to want to put on my sweatshirt.

After a bench stationed at a nice overlook comes the final push to the top. This was the worst part of the hike for me, mainly because it was so muddy. To make matters worse, a large portion of t his part of the trail was comprised of steps. This was fine, except that–because of the mud and rain from the previous day–many of the steps had turned into mud puddles.

When I finally reached the top, it was even windier. As promised, the views were great, but I wasn’t too keen on standing up to see them because of all the wind. Consequently, I postponed my top-of-the-hike snack and made my way down to the bench before eating.

The way down was actually easier than the way up. Usually it’s the opposite for me, but I think because the trail was rarely very steep I wasn’t so scared going back down.

After my lunch, time seemed to pass quickly and I wound my way out of the switchbacks and onto the road with no problems.

This was a great hike! It wasn’t hard, but it ate up a good chunk of my day, so I felt very accomplished. There were also enough people on the trail that I felt comfortable, but not so many that I felt like they were always at my heels, judging me for being too slow.

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