Oahu is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with stunning landscapes and plenty of opportunities for adventure. One of the best ways to experience the island’s natural beauty is by hiking its scenic trails. From rugged mountain ridges to lush rainforests and breathtaking ocean views, Oahu offers a diverse range of hiking experiences suitable for all skill levels. In this blog post, we will be highlighting the top 10 hiking trails in Oahu, complete with trail information and what you can expect along the way. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, Oahu’s hiking trails offer a unique and unforgettable way to explore the island’s natural wonders. So, lace up your boots and let’s hit the trails!
Koko Crater Railway Trail
Trail Length: 1.8 Miles | Difficulty Level: Intermediate to Difficult | Elevation Gain: 1,048 Feet | Trailhead: Koko Head District Park
The Koko Crater Railway Trail, also known as the Koko Head Stairs, is a challenging and rewarding hike that offers stunning panoramic views of Oahu’s southeastern coast. The trail follows the historic railway track, with over 1,000 steps leading to the summit of Koko Crater. While the ascent can be grueling, the breathtaking views at the top make it well worth the effort. If you’re up for a challenge and want to experience some of the best views Oahu has to offer, the Koko Crater Railway Trail is not to be missed.
Reasons to Hike Koko Crater Railway Trail:
- Breathtaking Views: Ascending the Koko Crater Railway Trail rewards hikers with awe-inspiring panoramic views of Oahu’s southeastern coast.
- Historical Significance: This trail follows the remnants of an old railway track used during World War II, adding a sense of historical significance to the hike.
- Challenging and Rewarding: With over 1,000 steps to conquer, the Koko Crater Railway Trail offers a challenging workout that leaves you with a great sense of accomplishment upon reaching the summit.
- Unique Terrain: The trail’s steep incline and railroad ties present a unique and exciting hiking experience, making it a favorite among adventure seekers.
- Photography Opportunities: From the top of Koko Crater, you’ll have the perfect vantage point to capture stunning photographs of the coastline and surrounding natural beauty.
Diamond Head Summit Trail
Trail Length: 1.6 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 560 Feet | Trailhead: Diamond Head State Monument
The Diamond Head Summit Trail is one of Oahu’s most iconic and popular hikes, offering spectacular views of Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean. The trail leads hikers through a historic military tunnel and up a series of switchbacks, culminating in a breathtaking view from the summit. With a moderate level of difficulty and close proximity to Honolulu, the Diamond Head Summit Trail is a must-do for visitors and locals alike.
Reasons to Hike Diamond Head Summit Trail:
- Iconic Views: Ascending the Diamond Head Summit Trail rewards hikers with panoramic views of Waikiki, the sparkling ocean, and the surrounding landscapes.
- Historical Significance: This trail takes you through a historic military tunnel and offers glimpses into the area’s rich past.
- Accessible Location: Located close to Honolulu, the Diamond Head Summit Trail is easily accessible and a great option for a quick escape into nature.
- Moderate Difficulty: With a moderate level of difficulty, this trail is suitable for a wide range of hikers, from beginners to more experienced individuals.
- Rewarding Experience: Reaching the summit and taking in the breathtaking vistas provides a sense of accomplishment and a memorable experience.
Ka’ena Point Trail
Trail Length: 7.5 Miles | Difficulty Level: Easy | Elevation Gain: Minimal | Trailhead: Ka’ena Point State Park (Mokuleia or Waianae side)
The Ka’ena Point Trail takes you on an unforgettable journey along the remote and picturesque western coastline of Oahu. This rugged and scenic trail leads hikers through sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs, and untouched natural beauty. As you explore the trail, you’ll be immersed in the tranquility of the area and rewarded with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
Reasons to Hike Ka’ena Point Trail:
- Unspoiled Coastal Beauty: Immerse yourself in the untouched natural beauty of Oahu’s western coastline, with stunning views of sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, and the vast Pacific Ocean.
- Abundant Wildlife: Encounter a variety of wildlife along the trail, including seabirds, monk seals, and possibly even dolphins or whales during the migration seasons.
- Sense of Seclusion: Escape the crowds and experience a sense of tranquility as you explore this remote and less-frequented trail.
- Cultural Significance: The trail holds cultural significance in Hawaiian mythology and history, making it an opportunity to connect with the island’s heritage.
- Photography Opportunities: Capture breathtaking photographs of the scenic landscapes, dramatic cliffs, and vibrant sunsets that adorn the Ka’ena Point Trail.
Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail
Trail Length: 2 Miles | Difficulty Level: Easy | Elevation Gain: 500 Feet | Trailhead: Makapu’u Point State Wayside
The Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail is a popular hiking trail located on the eastern side of Oahu. This well-maintained trail features a moderate incline that leads hikers up to a scenic overlook offering panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the rugged coastline. At the summit, hikers can take in the breathtaking scenery and visit the historic Makapu’u Lighthouse.
Reasons to Hike Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail:
- Spectacular Coastal Views: Experience breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the stunning coastline along the entire trail.
- Majestic Makapu’u Lighthouse: Reach the summit and marvel at the historic Makapu’u Lighthouse, a picturesque landmark with a rich maritime history.
- Whale Watching: During the winter months, spot humpback whales as they migrate through the waters off the coast, offering a unique and memorable sight.
- Well-Maintained Trail: Enjoy the convenience of a well-paved and well-maintained trail, making it accessible for hikers of various skill levels.
- Educational Significance: Learn about the local ecosystem and marine life through interpretive signs along the trail, providing an educational aspect to your hike.
Manoa Falls Trail
Trail Length: 1.6 Miles | Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate | Elevation Gain: 800 Feet | Trailhead: Manoa Falls Trailhead
The Manoa Falls Trail is a picturesque and relatively easy hiking trail located in Manoa Valley, Oahu. The trail is approximately 1.6 miles round-trip and is surrounded by lush rainforest vegetation, making it an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu. At the end of the trail, hikers are rewarded with the beautiful Manoa Falls, a 150-foot waterfall that cascades down into a small pool below.
Reasons to Hike Manoa Falls Trail:
- Enchanting Rainforest Experience: Immerse yourself in the beauty of a lush rainforest as you hike through the captivating scenery of the Manoa Falls Trail.
- Stunning Waterfall: Witness the awe-inspiring sight of the 150-foot Manoa Falls, surrounded by verdant foliage and creating a serene and picturesque setting.
- Accessible Difficulty Level: The trail is relatively easy, making it suitable for hikers of various skill levels, including families and beginners.
- Educational Opportunities: Learn about the local flora and fauna with informative signs along the trail, enhancing your understanding of the rainforest ecosystem.
- Proximity to Honolulu: Located just a short drive from Honolulu, the Manoa Falls Trail offers a convenient nature retreat without venturing too far from the city.
Lanikai Pillboxes Trail
Trail Length: 1.8 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 500 Feet | Trailhead: Kaiwa Ridge Trailhead
The Lanikai Pillboxes Trail is a popular and scenic hiking trail located in Lanikai, Oahu. This moderate trail takes you up to the iconic World War II pillboxes, offering breathtaking panoramic views of Lanikai Beach, the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean, and the Mokulua Islands. Hikers can enjoy a rewarding trek and capture stunning photos along the way.
Reasons to Hike Lanikai Pillboxes Trail:
- Spectacular Ocean Views: Experience stunning panoramic views of Lanikai Beach, the crystal-clear waters of the Pacific Ocean, and the picturesque Mokulua Islands.
- Historical Significance: Explore the World War II pillboxes and gain insights into the island’s history and military heritage.
- Moderate Challenge: The trail offers a moderate level of difficulty, making it accessible for most hikers, including families and beginners.
- Photography Opportunities: Capture breathtaking photos of the scenic landscapes, vibrant blue waters, and the iconic pillboxes along the trail.
- Beach Access: After the hike, unwind on the beautiful Lanikai Beach, known for its soft sand and turquoise waters.
Aiea Loop Trail
Trail Length: 4.8 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 900 Feet | Trailhead: Aiea Loop Trailhead
The Aiea Loop Trail is a scenic hiking trail located in the lush Aiea Heights of Oahu. This moderate trail offers a tranquil escape into nature with its beautiful forested surroundings and panoramic views of the island. Hikers can enjoy a peaceful walk along well-maintained paths, passing through groves of tall trees, and may even spot native birds and wildlife along the way.
Reasons to Hike Aiea Loop Trail:
- Serenity in Nature: Experience a peaceful and serene hike through the beautiful forested surroundings of the Aiea Loop Trail.
- Panoramic Island Views: Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of Oahu as you traverse the trail, offering glimpses of the island’s stunning landscapes.
- Varied Terrain: Encounter a mix of terrain, including shaded paths, open meadows, and gentle inclines, adding diversity to your hiking experience.
- Wildlife Spotting: Keep an eye out for native birds and wildlife that inhabit the area, offering opportunities for observation and connection with nature.
- Family-Friendly: With its moderate difficulty level and well-maintained paths, the Aiea Loop Trail is suitable for families and hikers of various skill levels.
Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail
Trail Length: 4.5 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult | Elevation Gain: 1,100 Feet | Trailhead: Wiliwilinui Neighborhood Park
The Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail is an invigorating and scenic hiking trail nestled in East Oahu. This challenging and steep trail leads adventurers along the ridge of the majestic Ko’olau Mountains, providing awe-inspiring vistas of lush valleys and the vast Pacific Ocean. Hikers are rewarded with an unforgettable experience amidst the verdant rainforest and an exhilarating journey through nature’s beauty.
Reasons to Hike Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail:
- Breathtaking Panoramic Views: Immerse yourself in stunning panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
- Challenging Adventure: Test your skills and endurance as you tackle the steep and strenuous sections of the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail.
- Lush Rainforest Experience: Traverse through a lush rainforest, surrounded by vibrant foliage and the melodious sounds of nature.
- Sense of Accomplishment: Conquer the challenging terrain and reach the summit, experiencing a sense of achievement and fulfillment.
- Escape from the Ordinary: Retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in the tranquility and natural beauty of the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail.
Maunawili Falls Trail
Trail Length: 3.2 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 600 Feet | Trailhead: Maunawili Demonstration Trailhead
The Maunawili Falls Trail is a captivating hiking trail located in the scenic Ko’olau Mountains of Oahu. This moderate trail takes you through lush rainforest, crossing streams and winding paths, and leads to the enchanting Maunawili Falls. Hikers can enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings, take a refreshing dip in the waterfall’s pool, and relish in the natural beauty that awaits them.
Reasons to Hike Maunawili Falls Trail:
- Natural Beauty: Immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of the lush rainforest, scenic landscapes, and the mesmerizing Maunawili Falls.
- Refreshing Waterfall: Enjoy the opportunity to take a refreshing dip in the cool waters of the waterfall’s pool, offering a rejuvenating experience.
- Tranquil Atmosphere: Escape the bustling city and embrace the peacefulness of the trail, surrounded by the sounds of nature and flowing streams.
- Adventure and Exploration: Traverse through the winding paths, cross streams, and discover the hidden gems along the Maunawili Falls Trail.
- Photography Opportunities: Capture stunning photos of the picturesque landscapes, cascading waterfall, and the flora and fauna that thrive in this natural oasis.
Olomana Three Peaks Trail
Trail Length: 4.5 Miles | Difficulty Level: Difficult | Elevation Gain: 1,644 Feet | Trailhead: End of Kuleana Road, Olomana Golf Course
The Olomana Three Peaks Trail is a challenging and exhilarating hiking trail located on the Windward side of Oahu. This trail takes you on an epic journey to conquer the three distinct peaks of Mount Olomana, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. Hikers can expect steep ascents, rocky terrain, and rewarding vistas that make it a thrilling adventure for experienced outdoor enthusiasts.
Reasons to Hike Olomana Three Peaks Trail:
- Thrilling Challenge: Embark on a thrilling adventure as you conquer the three distinct peaks of Mount Olomana, testing your endurance and hiking skills.
- Panoramic Views: Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the Windward side of Oahu from the summit of each peak, rewarding you with stunning vistas of the surrounding landscapes.
- Sense of Achievement: Experience a great sense of accomplishment as you complete this challenging trail, pushing your limits and overcoming obstacles along the way.
- Adventure in Nature: Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Oahu, with lush vegetation, rugged terrain, and the opportunity to encounter native flora and fauna.
- Unforgettable Memories: Create lasting memories as you challenge yourself on this iconic trail, surrounded by stunning vistas and the sense of accomplishment that comes with conquering all three peaks.
Meet Cheri, a nature enthusiast who cherishes the simple joys of walking, hiking, and the comfort of glamping. With a background in e-commerce, she initially delved into the world of sports and outdoor equipment by selling products on Amazon. Today, she enjoys the freedom of blogging, sharing her expertise to help you pick the best of the best for your next outdoor adventure.