Olomana Trail, more commonly referred to as Three Peaks, is one of the most popular and talked about trails on O’ahu.
The trail is rugged, unique, and challenging. Hikers brave enough to traverse the three peaks are rewarded with 360 degrees views of the east side and a hiking experience to write home about.
It’s important to note that despite the trail’s seemingly short distance, this is not a hike for beginners. Olomana Trail should only be attempted by those confident in their hiking abilities, balance, and physical endurance.
Having lived on O’ahu for five years, we’ve hiked Three Peaks numerous times and it remains in our opinion, one of the most adventurous hikes on the island.
In this guide, I cover what to expect hiking Olomana Trail, when to start, where to park, and how to safely approach the three peaks.
Make sure to stick around until the end for an overview of other adventurous trails on O’ahu that you can’t miss.
Table of Contents
Everything You Need to Know to Safely Hike Olomana Trail
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Olomana Trail Stats
Distance: 4.4 miles (this does not account for the walk from the car to the trailhead)
Elevation Gain: 1,856 feet
Time: 3-4 hours
Things to Know
Is Olomana Trail Legal?
Yes, Olomana Trail is a legal hike and is open to the public.
With that being said, the trail is only accessible via the Royal Hawaiian, a private golf course. Hikers must pass a manned guard station to begin the trail.
So, while the trail is not illegal it is regulated. Hikers cannot start the trail until the golf course opens at 6:00 am.
It’s been rumored that no one guards the station and hikers can sneak by beginning the trail before 6:00 am. In my experience, there is always a guard on duty and they will stop you. It’s not worth having to stand around and wait (best case scenario) or getting cited (worst case scenario).
It is important that we all do our part in respecting the rules and regulations set by the state so trails like Olomana will remain open to the public.
How Long Does It Take To Hike Olomana Trail?
Despite its short length, Olomana Trail can take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours.
There are many factors that determine the hike’s duration. Factors include how many peaks you conquer, how long you take to navigate the rope sections, and how long you stick around to soak in the views.
If you’re gunning for all three peaks, allot roughly 5 hours to complete the trek.
Where Do I Park for the Olomana Trailhead?
Unfortunately, there is no designated parking for Olomana Trail, as it begins on private land.
Hikers need to park along Kalaniana’ole Hwy and Auloa road. Make sure to abide by all signs and ensure you are not blocking the sidewalk.
Remove all valuables from your car before starting the trail.
From the car, head towards Loop Road. Plan to walk roughly five minutes before spotting the guard station, and another 10 minutes to reach the trailhead.
The trail begins on the left and is marked by a sign. Walking from the car to the trail adds .8 miles one way (1.6 miles round-trip) to the hiking distance.
Make sure that you factor in this extra mileage when determining if this trail is a good fit.
Is It Safe to Hike to the Third Peak?
Olomana Trail’s third peak is infamous for its rock scrambles, rope sections, and sheer drop-offs. The trail has unfortunately claimed more than one life in its time.
With that being said, to a seasoned, confident, and properly prepared hiker, reaching the third peak is doable and safe — relatively speaking.
What to Expect Hiking Olomana Trail (Three Peaks)
Olomana Trail is one of the most jaw-dropping trails on O’ahu.
From start to finish, the trail transports hikers into a lush green and tropical environment most people only ever experience in the movies.
While hikers are forced to park almost one mile away from Olomana Trail, don’t let this detail deter you. The paved road leading to the trailhead is stunning in itself. The road is surrounded by towering palm trees, giant vines, and looming mountains.
From the car, walk towards Loop Road. Continue on this paved road headed towards the Royal Hawaiian golf course. You’ll pass a guard station on your left before finally approaching the trailhead.
Keep in mind this is a popular trail. The earlier you start the better. Plan to be at the guard station at 6:00 am for the chance to be among the first to start Olomana Trail.
With all hikes on O’ahu, if you can squeeze the hike in during the week do so for a less busy trail experience.
The First Peak
The trail begins below canopied trees and traverses over raised roots and rocks.
Almost immediately, Olomana Trail begins a steady climb toward the peaks. Prepare to sustain the steep incline for the entire climb toward the first peak. The hike to the first peak is the safest, yes, but also the hardest endurance-wise.
There are few opportunities to soak in the surrounding views at first. However, rest assured knowing that once you reach the first peak, the views are endless for the remainder of the hike.
The trail is steep from the get-go but doesn’t require much technical maneuvering until you approach the final push to the first peak.
After some relatively mellow rope climbing and a final shimming up and around a large boulder, you arrive atop peak one. Prepare for the hike to the first peak to take around 1.5 hours, give or take 30 minutes.
The first peak is the most popular of the three peaks. Expect this lookout to be very crowded with the presence of other enthusiastic hikers.
At this point, you have the option to sit and stay awhile soaking in the views of the east side and surrounding second and third peaks, or to continue on in quest of completing the other peaks.
Before deciding to turn around or continue, note that the trail only gets more technical, steep, and physically demanding.
Again, six people have died hiking Olomana Trail. Proceed with caution and take the trail seriously.
The Second Peak
The first peak offers the best overall views of the second and third peaks, in my opinion, but the trail leading to the second peak is the most thrilling and stunning section of Olomana Trail.
Following the ascent of the first peak, you finally get some reprieve from climbing. The route to the second peak involves several steep downward climbs as well as some scramble-ups.
To reach the second peak, prepare for full-body climbing requiring you to hoist your body up, over, and down large rocks.
Reaching the second peak only takes around 15-20 minutes depending on your level of confidence in navigating the adventurous terrain.
The Third Peak
The third peak, warranting Olomana Trail its nickname, “Three Peaks,” is the hardest section and for lack of a better word, the sketchiest.
Very few people who hike Olomana Trail take on the challenge to reach the third peak. Even just standing atop peak two and looking at the initial descent to peak three is intimidating.
To begin your pursuit of the third peak you must fully rely on your ability to hold your upper body weight while repelling. Take your time through this section, checking your handhold and footing before each move. Also, make sure only one person navigates the ropes at a time.
A quick note about ropes — always check the condition of the ropes before trusting them. Inspect the integrity of the rope as well as the sturdiness of the anchor point before using them to climb or repel.
After the adrenaline-pumping descent, you navigate through some trees and along the ridge before beginning your final ascent. The last ascent requires a good amount of climbing and confidence.
Again, take your time this section should not be taken lightly.
Once you’ve conquered the last obstacle you’re in the clear to the top. While the views from the third peak aren’t as impressive, the sheer pride of completing all three peaks is worth it and an accomplishment very few can claim.
Final Note About Weather
In addition to assessing your own skills, strength, and confidence level before hiking Olomana Trail, make sure to also take note of the weather.
Do not attempt Olomana Trail if poor weather is forecasted. The trail is unsafe in wet or windy conditions. While you never want to have to make the call to abort an adventure, it is necessary in this case should the weather turn for the worst.
When hiking, if you start to experience heavy winds, gusts, rain, or thunder, turn around.
Once the rock and ropes are wet they become extremely difficult and unsafe to navigate, and unexpected winds can knock you off balance at any moment.
Also, keep in mind that whatever you go up, you must also be able to come down (and vice versa). Always put your safety and the safety of those you are hiking with first.
Other Epic and Challenging Hikes on O’ahu
While most people head to Hawai’i dead set on hitting up all of the beaches, the mountains are truly where the magic lies.
We probably did over 50 hikes while we were living on O’ahu, but some kept calling us back, time and time again.
Check out my other favorite, adventurous, hikes on O’ahu.
Ka’au Crater Trail
If I had to choose my absolute favorite hike on O’ahu it would, hands down, be Ka’au Crater Trail.
The trail is magically engulfed in lush green foliage and giant vines. You spend the hike navigating over and around a beautiful creek before laying eyes on the real prize, the first waterfall.
Ka’au Crater trail will have you covered in mud, scaling waterfalls, and tip-toeing across mountain ridges. If you’re looking for the best adventure on O’ahu, this trail is it.
Kuliouou Ridge Loop Trail
Kuliouou Ridge Loop Trail offers hikers the best view on O’ahu.
The loop trail is an alternative to the frequented out-and-back Kuliouou Ridge Trail. While the loop route is much more physically challenging, the lack of hikers, dramatic views and sheer ridge drop-offs make it worth the extra effort.
If you’re confident navigating rope sections and balancing across ridges head to Kuliouou Ridge Loop Trail for the best view on the island.
Puu Konahuanui Peak Trail (K1 and K2)
More commonly referred to as K1 and K2, Pu’u Konahuanui Peak Trail is perhaps the most breathtaking trail on the entire island of O’ahu.
The trail is long and engaging with towering views of the Ko’olau Mountains around every bend.
With one of the most impressive ridge climbs on the island, prepare to climb, slide, scramble, and pull your way to the top of K2.
If you’re up for the challenge, continue on the unmaintained and overgrown trail to reach K1.
Moanalua Valley Trail (Backway to Stairway)
For years, avid hikers have been drooling over the idea of conquering the famed Stairway to Heaven trail on O’ahu.
While scaling up the stairs is banned, indefinitely, the much longer Moanalua Valley Trail (deemed “backway to stairway”) is legal.
The trail tests your strength and endurance, as well as comfortability with navigating ridge lines and ropes.
Moanalua Valley Trail is a challenging, adventurous, and rewarding hike that leads hikers to a breathtaking view at the top of the iconic stairs.
While the backway route isn’t as hyped as the Stairway to Heaven trail, it’s a great, legal option for witnessing the staircase and remains one of our favorite hikes on O’ahu.
Do you live on O’ahu or just visiting? If you have any questions about hiking Olomana Trail or deciding if the trail is right for you, leave me a message in the comment section below.
If you’re looking to take the ultimate O’ahu trip, check out my other guides highlighting my favorite island hikes, adventures, and more.
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