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How to Hike the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail, Oahu Hawaii

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Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail Hiking Guide

The Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail on Oahu is one of the best beginner ridge hikes on Oahu, Hawaii and is perfect for you if you are dying to do an epic ridge hike in Hawaii but not feeling at all confident. Hence why we chose the Wiliwilinui Trail for our first ridge hike in Hawaii.

Most of the hike is pretty straight forward with lots of stairs and a couple of trickier scrambling sections with ropes to assist. The views are insane! You can see all the way out to Waikiki and the ocean from the trail but at the same time feel as though you are in the middle of the jungle.

This guide will provide you with everything you need to know before setting out on your Hawaiian ridge hiking adventure including how to get to the trailhead, what the actual trail is like and I’ve also included our own experience hiking it.

couple on the Wiliwilinui Ridge trail on Oahu

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Hike Stats

Distance: 7.6km / 4.7 miles
Time: 3 hours
Elevation: 493m / 1,617 ft
From Waikiki: 20 minutes
Dog Friendly: Yes
Toilets: None

📍 Where is the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail located?

The Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail is located on the Island of Oahu about a 20 minute drive from Honolulu, located in a gated community on Okoa Street.

Click here to open the map in Google Maps!

Planning a trip to Oahu: Make sure you read my guide on Bucketlist things to do on Oahu!

Can I Get to the Wiliwilinui Hike Without a Car

Unfortunately, you will need a car to get to the Wiliwilinui trailhead or there would be A LOT of extra walking (around an hour or so extra) involved.

How to Get to the Wiliwilinui Hike by Car

To reach the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trailhead from Honolulu, you will need to take the I-H-1 E to Laukahi Street where you will turn left onto the street. This street will take you up a winding hill to the gated Community area. At the security guard station, let the guard on duty know that you are doing a hike and he will give you a ticket to put on your dash.

Where to Park

Once you have received your ticket from the security guard, continue driving up Laukahi Street until it ends and turn left onto Okoa Street. We enjoyed admiring the very expensive and beautiful homes while driving past and imaged what it would be like to live there.

Your parking pass that you have just received will also serve as a map to get to the parking lot. You will now start to see signs pointing to the trailhead. Follow these and park in the parking lot just before the gate.

There are two parking lots, one paved which can be found at the end of the paved road and one dirt lot which is slightly further right next to the trailhead. The security guards monitor the number of people parking each day and if the lots are both full, he will let you know and not be able to give you a pass.

Luckily, we had no issues and the process to reach the parking lot was smooth.

Finding the Wiliwilinui Ridge Hike Trailhead

Once you have parked and gathered your hiking necessities, walk up the road, past the cable gate and follow the access road to the trailhead.

📄 Things to Know Before Hiking the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail

  • Even though, I say this is a beginner ridge trail, it is still a ridge trail, meaning there are steep drop offs in sections that can be mentally challenging for some people.
  • Watch the weather forecast. The weather can change very suddenly in Hawaii and you don’t want to be caught up in a storm.
  • Don’t do this hike in the rain or just after rain. The Wiliwilinui Trail is extremely muddy and in the wet would be very slippery and dangerous.
  • Bring plenty of food and water.
  • Let someone know where you are and what time you are expected back. We wrote an embarrassing note to our Airbnb Hosts that if we weren’t back in the morning to send out search and rescue. We were brand new at hiking in the mountains at this stage and had no idea what to expect but its always better to be safe than sorry.

What Does Wiliwilinui Mean?

The word “Wiliwilinui translates to “large ridge” so it is a fitting name for this hike.

🕐 How Long Does it Take to Hike the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail

On average the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail takes around 2-3 hours to complete, however this could add up to longer if you have trouble on the scramble sections or if the mud is slippery.

🥾 How Hard is the Wiliwilinui Trial?

Even though I have mentioned that the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail is one of the easier ridge hikes on Oahu, it is still a challenging hike. The trail is extremely muddy and so it can be very slippery.

A lot of the hike is all stairs which some more complicated sections that you need to scramble up using your hands and the ropes that have been attached to the trail for assistance. You can’t be afraid to get muddy on this hike because no matter how hard you try, you will be very muddy by the end of it.

🚶‍♀️ Trail Description

The Fire Trail

The trail starts off with a wide paved road and you may be thinking “this isn’t so bad,” however after not too long the road turns into dirt with some extremely muddy sections. Still “not too bad” but I highly recommend wearing hiking boots if you have a pair. At the time all Dave and I had were our running shoes and they got completely ruined. Now I have the Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Boots which would have been awesome for this trail!

Soon the path narrows a little as you come out onto the ridgeline. You can’t quite see the views fully yet as there are trees on either side blocking your view. This also made us feel a bit safer.

The Stair Climb

After around 2.4km (1.5 miles), you will reach the bottom of the stair climb. This is where things become more challenging. The stairs are pretty steep, as you can see from the picture above.

The rest of the hike is all stairs, sub-divided by flat trail sections, with the exception of some places where there has been a landslide previously and the stairs have disappeared, turning the trail into a steep scramble. Luckily someone had added a rope to assist. After this, you will reach an antenna station. This is where we ended our hike but you can continue.

couple hiking the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail

We had originally planned to do the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail for sunset but the storm clouds were looking pretty threatening as we made our way up, so instead of waiting for sunset at the top, we decided to head back down.

We were worried about the mud turning to slippery slush and making it impossible for us to get back down safely. The possible of lightning was also making us pretty terrified as it was quite exposed at the top and along the ridgeline.

The Summit

If you hike to the right of the antenna station, you will find that the trail continues. It’s not too much further to the summit from here. At the summit, you will find a bench and hopefully an epic view if the weather is good!

🛏 Where to Stay Nearby

If you are looking to stay somewhere nearby the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trial hike, I recommend looking at places either in Waikiki or the by the coast nearer to the trail.

🤿 Other Fun Things to do on Oahu

As you are looking up hikes to do on Oahu, I can only assume that you are spending a bit of time on the island. Dave and I spent 5 days exploring Oahu and found some really beautiful spots.

Check out the North Shore!

If you have time, a visit to the North Shore is well worth it! The vibes up North are much more laid back with less of the city influence. It honestly feels like a whole other world up there. If you do get to go to the North Shore of Oahu, make sure you try some Garlic Shrimp from one of the foods trucks up there. It is absolutely delicious.

You could also visit the famous Turtle Bay Resort which is where they filmed “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and try snorkelling at Shark’s Cove.

Crouching Lion Hike

Distance: 0.8km / 0.5 miles | Time: 1-2 hours | Elevation: 90m / 300 ft | Difficulty: Moderate

Girl at the top of the Crouching Lion Hike

The Crouching Lion Hike is a really short but steep hike located on the East Coast of Oahu. From the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail, it is about a 50 minute drive but if you are planning on heading up to the North Shore, you could check this hike off on the way. From the top, you get those classic green forest / stunning blue water views that you would expect from Hawaii.

💭 Our Thoughts

For our first ridge hike in Hawaii, we loved the Wiliwilinui trail and just wished we had had a bit more confidence to go all the way to the summit. We thought it was just the right amount of difficulty for us and the views were beautiful!

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