The Kolowalu Trail is a moderate hike and has very few people along the path. I’ve only done the trail once and I think we encountered two other groups during the time we were out there. It offers stunning views into the Manoa Valley and downtown Honolulu, as well as acts as an entry point for a couple other trails – the Wa’ahila Ridge Trail and Mount Olympus.
The trail head is actually the same path for two different hikes: the Pu’u Pia Trail and the Kolowalu Trail. About 5 minutes in, the trail divides. The Pu’u Pia Trail is the path to the left, the Kolowalu Trail goes off to the right.
This was a pretty rocky trail, with a number of wet spots. The climb has some decently steep sections. Stop along the path to enjoy the beautiful rooted ground, tall trees, and green vines – we stopped a number of times to rest and enjoy the view. The trail makes somewhat of a zigzag pattern as you climb.
Eventually you will reach the Kolowalu-Wa’ahila junction along the crest of Wa’ahila Ridge (there are signs letting you know). For us, it took a little over an hour to reach it. This is the end of the Kolowalu Trail. From there, you can either forge on and hike part of the Wa’ahila Ridge until you reach the path for Mount Olympus, or you can turn around like we did and save those hikes for a different day.
Elevation: 1,100 ft
Length of hike: The trail is about 2 miles long, round-trip. It takes about 3 hours to make a round-trip hike due to the steep, wet, and rocky climb. Of course, you could easily turn this into a much longer hike by hiking part of the Wa’ahila Ridge Trail while you’re at it.
Best time to go: This trail was fairly shaded, so any time of day should be fine. Just make sure you have enough daylight hours to make it up there and back. Also, try to pick a dry day to go in hopes that the trail isn’t as wet.
Worst time to go: During or after a rainstorm. Also, I wouldn’t recommend starting the trail after 3pm to ensure you have enough light to make it back down. With all the rocks and slippery surfaces, it’s very easy to slip and twist an ankle.