Pu'u O Hulu Kai 2x P750

Fri, Dec 20, 2019

With: Ryan Burd
Jackie Burd
Ryan Harriman

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2
Pu'u O Hulu Kai previously climbed Wed, Jun 11, 2014



This is a very minor summit rising in Waianae Valley on the west side of Oahu, surrounded by higher, far more impressive summits on three sides. Still, it makes for a short, fun outing that can be done in about an hour - not bad if you have limited time. Access is from the end of Waianae Valley Rd, the same trailhead used for Ka'ala, the island highpoint. The TH has a terribly sketchy feel to it - homeless folks camp in the parking lot and nearby, and it has a reputation for break-ins. Still, on most days there is a collection of tourist vehicles for this popular TH and the best strategy is to leave the car completely empty. I hiked up the road that starts the Ka'ala Trail for about half a mile until almost due west of Koleali'ili'i. A break in the tall grass gets you easily to a remote weather station just east of the road. This really just saves about 100yds of brushy cross-country. From the weather station, one drops a short distance to the normally dry Hiu Stream, then starts climbing up the west side of Koleali'ili'i. The going isn't particularly difficult, but necessarily slow unless you want to face-plant after tripping over any of the many lava rocks hidden in the tall grass. The grass & forest slopes seem to have a pace of their own, about 1.5mi/hr if you want to enjoy the experience without being rushed. There are a few cliff areas that can be bypassed on one side or the other. I used the trunks of the mostly small trees (2-3" in diameter) to pull myself along and use as support on the steeper sections. I found plastic bottles and old beer cans from previous visitors at various locations - not the remote, untouched Wilderness experience, this one. It took about 30min to make my way to the top, a little faster on the descent. The summit was open with views and a welcome, cool breeze blowing across the top. No nice places to sit for a rest, though. I initially tried to descend what looked like a good use trail going off the south side, but that seemed to quickly disappear, prompting me to reconsider and eventually go back the way I had come.

Pu'u o Hulu Kai

This coastal summit on the west side between Maili and Nanakuli sees a good amount of taffic. An unsigned but good trail climbs up to the summit from the north side as depicted on the topo map. It has a number of pillbox emplacements, WWII-era relics now covered in graffiti. They're supposed to be neat locations from which to watch sunset, so that's what we planned by starting around 5p. We were able to hike directly from our AirBnB, less than a mile to the trail. It was easy to find the start of the trail where half a dozen cars had parked along Kaukama Rd. The trail was in good condition - dry, no brush, and very popular. There were several dozen folks scattered about the various pillboxes that line the summit ridge. We hiked up to the highest one and settled in there, but there was not going to be a good sunset today. Afternoon clouds had rolled in to cover most of the western sky. There was some rain falling over the Waianae Range to the east, but it only threatened to move over us. Views are quite fine, however, sunset or not. We all agreed they were the best we'd had on the island yet. We were back down before it got too dark and avoided any rain showers. We'll have to try again another day when the sunset has more to offer...


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