Mt. Ka’ala – Highest Peak on O’ahu, Hawaii

Discussion in 'Hiking & Camping' started by Howells Outdoors, Dec 11, 2014.

  1. Howells Outdoors

    Howells Outdoors Adventure is my middle name...actually it's Keith.

    Salt Lake City, Utah
    My brother doesn't have an account on here (I'll get him on here soon), but here is his trip report from

    This past Sunday, December 7, 2014, I finally had the opportunity to summit the highest peak on O’ahu located in the Hawaiian Islands; summit, according to my GPS, was 4,050 feet above sea level. The trail head begins at the end of Waianae Valley Road; if you plan on driving, don’t. This is a high theft area, try and arrange for some to drop you off and pick you up. If not, remove all valuables from your car. The hike begins at a hunter check in station; in that station is a place for hikers to check in as well. Be aware that the area surrounding the hike and sometimes the trail itself is a hunting area; on our hike on Sunday, we did hear hunters off in the distance hunting pigs and did hear some gun shots.

    The trail head is located at 640 feet elevation and the climbing begins immediately along a private service road up to a Hawaii Board of Water Supply station. Walking along the road, if you turn around and look at the ridge across the valley you can see Israel Kamakawiwo’ole with a honu, Hawaiian for turtle, on his back. Can you spot them? [​IMG]Once at the station, the road turns from paved to unpaved. From this view, a look across the valley again makes for a great picture. [​IMG] A little ways up the unpaved road is a covered picnic table, the trail goes off to the right of that table. It isn’t far past the table that we took a left at the trail fork. We followed the purple caps located on trees on the way up and orange caps on the way down. Just a ways down the trail we crossed a dry wash. It’s too bad we couldn’t say the same about it on our last attempt of this hike where we got flash flood warnings and had to turn back. This is what that “dry wash” looked like after monsoon rains. [​IMG]

    As the trail continues onward and upward, you walk through an awesome canopy of guava and lilikoi trees. If there are any ripe fruits, grab some and eat them. It’s nice to eat what mother nature provides. After you go through this section of trees, you’ll walk through some head high strawberry guava. Again, if it’s ripe, eat some; just be aware of the seeds, there’s lots of them and too much of the seeds can be poisonous, but it will take A LOT. Don’t forget to look up while on the hike and take in the views of the canopy.



    As you start climbing up the ridge to the top there is a plethora of old, decomposing logs with lots of moss growing on them.


    Some even had sprouts of new life


    The climbing on this hike just never stops. It is a constant climb up, up, and up to the clouds. We were about half way done distance wise, but altitude wise, still had more than half to go. Once we got to the place called Three Poles, literally just a three legged power pole, we had about 1,300 feet to go. It looks like a short distance, but it is almost straight up from here on out. The trail also gets a lot more muddy which makes it very slippery so we had to be extra careful, luckily there were ropes along the trail to head stabilize ourselves. I wouldn’t recommend relying solely on the ropes, but they are there for your assistance.

    The last 600-700 feet of this hike is a workout on your legs you will never forget.


    The good news is, it’s all downhill from the top. Until you realize that going downhill is a lot more work on your legs. Once you reach the “summit” you have to walk along a boarded path that transverses a “bog” that is thick with mostly native Hawaiian plants.


    This path winds back and forth until you come upon what looks like the big ball at Epcot from Disneyworld. This is, in fact, the FCC radar that tracks all the planes flying across the Pacific Ocean. Head on around along the fence line and come to, if you’re lucky, the best view of the island; all the way from the north shore to the south shore.


    We spent a good 45 minutes to 1 hour up here just relaxing and taking in the view. Even had a couple beers that I dragged up to the top, it was worth it. This hike was an amazing one, even though there is about 3,500 feet of elevation gain. It is brutal on the legs, but the view and effort are worth it. I have now been 110 feet below the island and 4,050 feet above the island of O’ahu, so I guess you could say that I’ve hiked from the bottom to the top. Adventure is out there!