Hike the Magical Ridges of Oahu

Sunrise on top of Olamana Mountain.

Sunrise on top of Olamana Mountain.

Legend tells of Olamana, a 30-foot warrior who ruled the lands until the King of Oahu sent Palila, a soldier with supernatural powers, to challenge him. During the battle, Palila sliced Olamana in half. His torso landed in the Pacific while his bottom half became the mountain over which we climbed during a trip to Hawaii. 

Olamana Three Peaks is often called the most treacherous hike on the island, and it certainly can be when the weather rolls in. But if you love 360 degree views and class 3 scrambling, this is a must on Oahu! It's a 5-hour journey through mud pits, up vertical rock (with the help of ropes), and along narrow ridges with steep drop-offs on each side.

Only 10 miles outside Honolulu, the trailhead starts at the Luana Hills Country Club, just up the road from the guard shack. Be warned that they will block off the trail if it's rainy due to dangerous conditions. It was raining the first time we attempted the hike, and we were turned away. We rose early the next morning so we could get on the trail before the guard showed up at 6 a.m., and it was well worth the effort. As the sun lit up the valley, we approached the top of the first peak. We scrambled up the rocks even faster so we could catch the golden light. After hours of climbing by headlamps, we were awestruck at the beauty that lay before us. Our sweaty backs, muddy legs, and rumbling bellies all faded in the magic of the moment. The Koolau Ridge glowed green to our right, the third peak jutted in front of us. From our vantage point we could see and hear the happenings around town from Kailua to Makapuu.

The third peak of Olamana, known as Ahiki, intrigued me since the first time I saw it in a picture. A thin, vertical ridge covered in lush green plants shooting straight into the air with views of the Windward Coast sprawled around it -- I needed to see it in person. Once there, hanging out atop a rocky outcropping on the third peak, we reveled in the beauty of the island and the legends of its landscape.

Should you ever make this trip, I would recommend a stop at Maunawili Falls afterward to cool down in a pool beneath the 15-foot falls. It's an easy 2 1/2 mile hike. But you should expect company - it's a popular spot! 

Contributed by Stacia Glenn