Kuliouou Ridge

Kuliouou is a short but challenging climb up to the Ko’olau summit trail along a series of switchbacks and numerous steps. It’s quite a work out even though it was so short! But, the rewards at the top were wonderful views of the windward side and Waimanalo town. After taking in the views at the Kuliouou trail end, my plans were to head north to Pu’u o Kona along narrow and eroded areas with the ever present death drops on both sides. I wonder how that turned out? ^^; Please enjoy my photowalk up the popular Kuliouou state trail and at my feeble attempt to climb Pu’u o Kona.
Kuliouou Summit

After having a little difficulty finding the start of the trail, I eventually found out that it starts at the end of Kalaau Place.

So, I set off to find parking but that was pretty difficult as there are so many mailboxes, driveways, and trashcans. I had to park almost half a mile away. Then, the entire way up I was barked at from all sides. I think everyone in this neighborhood has a dog or two. Thankfully they were all behind fences. Still, it sounded like a “wake up siren” as I walked. ^^;
Sign
The start of the Kuliouou Ridge trail is right next to a Board of Water Supply sign at the end of Kalaau Place.
You can’t miss it (though I did). ^^;
Switchback
After making a right at a second sign, I started up the Kuliouou “Ridge” trail.

“Ridge” is in quotes because the first half of the trail is a dry series of switchbacks with almost no views until you get to the picnic bench at the top. Each switchback is very long too so there was a strong temptation to just ignore the trail and go straight up.
Rare View
One of the rare views on the way up the switchbacks.
Cave
A small cave located off the state trail. I found it when I was thinking of cutting through the switchbacks. ^^;

In the end, I just stuck to the trail and made it past the “switchback” Hell in less than an hour.

The better parts of the trail are just beyond the disappointing earlier parts.
Pine Needle Trail
After the picnic table, the trail takes on a California trail feeling. It resembled any of the numerous California trails that I grew up hiking.
While it was nostalgic, it didn’t really look like Hawaii. ^^;
Pretty Plants
Still, this was one of the better parts of the hike.
As I walked, the breeze cooled me off and the tall Cook pines shade my way.
Tree Doorway
After an insanely steep climb, you make it to the “doorway”. This is the “portal” to the upper Ko’olau mountains.
Congratulations. You have arrived to one of the most beautiful places on Earth. (:
Looking Back
Stepping through the doorway, I looked back at the distance I covered.
After hiking just a little over an hour, I had already almost made it. (:
Pu'u o Kona
To my left, I look on to what I believe was Pu’u o Kona. Running down that mountain were several dry waterfalls heading into the valley.
I think I’ll do the Kuliouou Valley hike after a good winter rain! Should be beautiful. (:
Koko Head
The last part of the hike brought back memories of Koko Head. In fact, it wasn’t that far away from Koko Head. I could still hear those gun shots as I made my push for the summit.
Stairs
Speaking of Koko Head, there are numerous steps along a step hill that you will have to climb. While they were easier than Koko Heads, they still took a lot out of me.
I definitely got a good work out on this one! (:
Me
Finally, I made it to the top of the Kuliouou Ridge trail. What a view! What a trail!
The view easily made up for any minor annoyances on the way up. I love this trail now. (:
Sign Warning
The trail officially ends at a sign warning about the steep drops down to Waimanalo town on your right.

After I read it, I noticed a lone woman making her way back down from Kona with great care and skill. She made it look easy…. I can do this! (:
Path to Kona
The path to Pu’u o Kona is not a level one and requires climbing up a down several steep and eroded false summits. The sand is very slippery up there and the wind is howling as you go. On your right is a drop to certain death and on your left is a drop to certain injury. Sounds like a good idea to keep going? lol ^^;
Wrong Way
Right from the get go, I started the trail wrong and was climbing on a rock ledge right over the 2,000 ft drop. Thankfully, I realized my error quickly so that I didn’t win the Darwinism Award for the day! ^^b
Hawaiian Flower
Along the way were several Hawaiian flowers that were starting to lose their petals to the unforgiving wind….
Starting Path to Kona
After getting on the proper trail, it was actually smooth going until I arrived at a particularly steep and eroded hill at the halfway point to Kona.
Turn Around Point
This was my turnaround point. I tried climbing up this hill but it was covered in sand, was very steep, and had little to stop any fall I would take.

While I was doing this, the crowd at the state trail end were all looking on. I felt like I was a daredevil and they were all filming my potential fall.
I decided that I didn’t want to end up on the news or on Youtube so I made my way back down.

If you have been following my blog, you know that I am afraid of heights. This hasn’t really changed. In fact, I had a nightmare about falling down to Waimanalo just last night. ^^;
Awesome View
Even though I was a little disappointed, I still got some good views and I got to enjoy them by myself.

That state trail was crowded today as it was a Saturday. It was much more peaceful out here. (:
Pu'u o Kona
If you look from Waimanalo, I was somewhere up on that high cliff wall. Looks safe huh? ^^;
Cook Pines
After soaking in the view, I made my way back down all those steps and numerous switchbacks. It was a lot easier going down! (:

In the end, I really enjoyed the Kuliouou Ridge trail. The views were lovely and the pine forests were very peaceful. In fact, I wouldn’t mind doing it again someday. But, when I do, I think I will stay on the state trail. I don’t get along with heights and I don’t think I ever will. lol =p

Hope you enjoyed this one. Till next time.

Directions to the Kuliouou Ridge trail
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