Hiking Olomana: Bring your 'A game'

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Want a challenge? Olomana Trail is the hike for you. There are others, not necessarily sanctioned for public use, that go further and work you harder. But this five-mile trail ascends about 1,600 feet — steeply in many areas — with rock-face climbing to boot. It has treacherous drop offs toward the top — better to do this hike during sunny, low-wind days, or not at all if those features make you queasy. But you'll be rewarded with a 360-degree view of the Windward side, Koolau mountains and Pacific Ocean — plus you get three peaks on one trail. An intermediate hiker in strong physical shape can manage fine. The question is, do you do all three peaks?
The trail head begins on the road that leads to the Luana Hills Country Club in Maunawili Valley (you'll need to check in with the club's guard and indicate that you're going on the trail — the entrance will be on the left side). The lower slope is thickly forested and broad; you'll soon be scrambling up steeper, narrower paths along its middle flank.

Where it is rocky and very steep, you'll see networks of ropes. These are not maintained, but are very handy — I wouldn't be able to get up without them... at least not confidently. Always test before you use by pulling gently downward, then increasing pressure (jerking it could loosen it, or send loose rocks tumbling down).
It took me 1:15 to get to the first peak (Olomana, the tallest), with short water and photo breaks. You'll see the second (Pakui) and third (Ahiki) peaks alluringly close. I've been to the second with no trouble. The third peak involves a steep descent from Pakui of 300 feet over rocks and tree roots, plus very narrow ascents on Ahiki. One of these days, but it was not this day. This is a lengthy climb, so bring plenty of water, snacks if you need.

To Get There: Fly to the Luana Hills Country Club in 3DHawaii, then click "Get Directions." You won't park there, but at the front of Loop Road that leads there. Or follow these instructions:
  • Take the Pali Highway (61) toward Kailua;
  • After descending the mountain, go past the turn off to Kaneohe on the right;
  • About a mile further, turn right on Auloa Road;
  • Take an immediate left onto Loop Road;
  • Park. Then walk Loop Road, check in with the guard, and about a quarter-mile up or so you'll see the trail head on the left.

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