The Many Environments of the Kuliouou Ridge Trail

At first, Kuliouou Road looks like any ordinary neighborhood street. But after a few twists and turns lies the entrance to two hiking trails: the Kuliouou Valley Trail and the Kuliouou Ridge Trail. Being808 joined David Chatsuthipan, owner of the hiking blog Unreal Hawaii, to tackle the latter of the two. While it’s more challenging, Chatsuthipan said, Kuliouou Ridge Trail is still considered a novice trail.
Before embarking on the four-hour hike, he suggests carrying the following:

– 1.5 – 2 liters of water
– a hat and sunscreen
– sneakers

The hike starts off with a series of switchbacks that zigzag up the incline. This section is good training for trail running or for a backpacking trip. From time to time, the trail opens up to views of Kuliouou Valley that can serve as rest stops. But Chatsuthipan recommends not spending too much time at these stops because the views are easily outdone by what lies ahead at the summit.

One unique feature of the trail is the drastic changes of environment. It is common to be walking through a dry forest of ironwood trees one moment and then navigating through lush green shrubbery the next.

After a step-laden incline similar to the Koko Crater Railway Trail, hikers are treated to the view atop the Koolau summit. Oahu’s east side – Kaneohe, Waimanalo, Makapuu – can be easily viewed in one breathtaking glance. Chatsuthipan said not to despair if clouds and mist are covering the summit when you arrive. Trade winds will typically blow them over if you wait about 15 minutes.

It had been a few years since Chatsuthipan last wrote about the trail and he noticed it is not as well-defined as it once was. It’s important to pay attention to the switchbacks and other twists and turns. If there are questionable forks in the trail, the sanctioned route is typically marked with a pink ribbon. However, if you’re distracted by conversation and such, you can easily miss them.

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