You’ll have to drive into a gated community to find this popular trailhead. There are no motorbikes allowed in the community, and you’ll be forced to register with a guard at the community’s gate who will record your license plate number. And the guard won’t let you pass the gate until sunrise.
But this popular five-mile hike sits only 15 minutes inland from Waikiki. It’s a muddy, well-maintained trail that will take you up to Wiliwilinui Ridge which sits right next to Ka’au Crater. The ridge feels like the spine of the island, and, on a clear day atop the ridge, you’ll be rewarded with views of Waikiki, Diamond Head and Honolulu in the distance. It’s a view that will make you feel small, and it will remind you of the grandeur of mother earth.
The hike starts off on a road that morphs into a dirt trail that becomes increasingly mucky. Make sure to wear shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty, and step with care on Hawaii’s famously slick red dirt.
Along the trail, you’ll find a swing hanging out over the ridge. It makes for an exhilarating picture, but be careful on the swing. If you fall backwards, you could tumble down the ridge which would certainly cause injury or even death.
You’ll gain 1,600 feet to the top of the ridge, and you’ll encounter 10 sets of stairs installed into muddy hillsides along the way. Eventually, the trees will give way and you’ll burst out onto the spine of the ridge. Enjoy the incredible views before coming back down the trail to the parking lot. And make sure to wave goodbye to the guard on your way out of the gated community.