Pu’u Konahuanui Peak Trail on O’ahu, more commonly referred to as “K2” and “K1” is one of the most beautiful trails on the island.
The trail traverses hikers along the Kalawahine Trail to the Pauoa Flats Trail before merging onto the final summit trail. Hikers finish the trail standing atop Konahuanui Peak, the tallest peak in the Ko’olau Mountain Range.
Konahuanui Peak actually consists of two peaks, K2 and K1, hence the trail’s nickname.
Pu’u Konahuanui Peak Trail is long, rugged, adventurous, and absolutely breathtaking. What begins as a family-friendly hike along the Kalawahine Trail, quickly morphs into an adrenaline-pumping climb appropriate only for the experienced and determined.
In this guide, I cover the safest route to summiting Oahu’s K2, where to locate the trailhead, where to park, and how to traverse the saddle to K1 if your legs are up for the challenge.
Stick around until the end where I highlight my other top four favorite hikes around the island you can’t miss.
Table of Contents
A Complete Guide to Summiting Pu’u Konahuanui Peak Via the Kalawahine Trail
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Pu’u Konahuanui Peak Trail via the Kalawahine Trail Stats
Distance: 8 miles (to K1 and back)
Elevation Gain: 2,562 feet
Time: 4.5 – 6 hours
Getting to the Kalawahine Trailhead
Pu’u Konahuanui Peak Trail begins at the Kalawahine Trailhead.
The trail is located just a 30-minute drive from downtown Waikiki. To access the Kalawahine Trail from Waikiki, head away from the ocean towards the valley.
Take Ala Wai Boulevard to Makiki Heights, before turning right onto Tantalus Drive and beginning the long winding road to the top. Keep an eye out for the trailhead as it’s subtly marked just off the side of the road by a trail sign.
Once you’ve spotted the Kalawahine Trail sign on the left, look for parking. There are a few pull-off spots directly across the road from the trailhead, as well as a few just before you reach the trailhead.
Before setting off onto the trail, make sure to park fully off of the road and respect the locals living nearby. As with all hikes in Hawai’i, do not leave any valuables in your car. Theft is not uncommon.
What to Expect Hiking Pu’u Konahuanui Peak (”K2”) Via the Kalawahine Trail
The journey to summiting Konahuanui Peak(s) — “K2” and “K1” — is broken into four sections:
(1) The Kalawahine Trail
(2) The Pauoa Flats Trail
(3) Konahuanui Peak #2
(4) Konahuanui Peak #1
Each section is unique and increases in difficulty as hikers make their way to the summit.
The quest up both Konahuanui peaks (K2 and K1) begins from the family-friendly Kalawahine Trail.
The Kalawahine Trail is shady, lush, and green. Most of the trail remains engulfed in trees with only sporadic views of Waikiki and the ocean.
Though the Kalawahine Trail doesn’t boast 360° views or epic adventure aspects, it’s a beautiful trail and a section we really enjoyed.
Along the Kalawahine Trail, hikers wind through the forest, under arched tree roots, and over dry river beds. Since this section doesn’t see much direct sun, it’s common for the trail to be muddy and slippery.
Think of this section as the warm-up to the fun that awaits in your quest for Konahuanui Peak.
Pauoa Flats Trail
After roughly 1.5 miles of walking along the Kalawahine Trail, the trail comes to a split. The merge will be marked by a Pauoa Flats Trail sign and elevated wooden planks.
At this junction, turn left and continue onto Pauoa Flats Trail.
Again, this is a unique, fun, and short section. Like the Kalawahine Trail, this section takes hikers through dense coverage and bamboo forest, with vibrant green foliage around every bend and corner.
Keep in mind that this area is prone to rain and flooding, hence the raised planks, so make sure to stay on the path to help combat erosion.
As with the Kalawahine Trail, the Pauoa Flats Trail is mellow and enjoyable for hikers of all ages and experience levels. There is hardly any elevation change and little to no direct exposure to the sun.
Once you come to a lookout and bench you know you’ve reached the end of Pauoa Flats Trail and are ready to take on Konahuanui Peak.
At this point in the hike, you’ve walked a total of just under two miles. Again, consider these two miles your warm-up for what’s to come on Pu’u Konahuanui Peak Trail.
From this lookout, you can see the Nu’uanu Reservoir and the road that takes hikers to the popular Lulumahu Falls Trail. If you can squeeze it into your visit, take the opportunity to explore the falls as it’s absolutely one of the best waterfalls on O’ahu. Bonus points if it’s a rainy day.
From the lookout, take a quick breather, grab some water, and prepare for the challenging climb to the top of the first Konahuanui Peak: ironically named K2.
Before you begin the ascent, tighten your hiking shoes. This is where the fun starts.
Konahuanui Peak (K2)
From the lookout, there’s an overgrown path continuing to the right — follow this trail.
Almost immediately, Pu’u Konahuanui Peak Trail puts you to work. The trail is unmaintained, muddy, and overgrown. Relatively speaking, the trail doesn’t see a lot of foot traffic so the path isn’t as straightforward as some of the other popular hikes on O’ahu.
It’s all part of the allure — prepare to get dirty.
This section of trail to the top of K2 is a combination of narrow ridges, tree root scrambles, exposed lookouts, rope climbs, and muddy slopes. While it’s not officially maintained, the trail is easy to follow with the exception of one section.
Shortly after you start the Konahuanui Peak stretch, you’ll come to another split in the trail. One trail continues on straight while the other veers off to the left and snakes back along a hill.
Technically, you can take either trail as they both take you to the same spot.
Going straight takes you up and over the ridge spine. This route is more technical, advanced, and physically demanding. While veering left, will take you around the ridge. This route is relatively easier.
We opted to take one route up and the other route back just to switch things up. Again, choose whichever route is best for you, they meet up shortly after the split.
Regardless of which route you take, prepare for the trail to be slippery, the ropes to be muddy, and for it to start raining at any point. It’s common for it to rain in the Ko’olau Mountain Range even if the rest of the island is sunny. O’ahu hiking rule #1: always bring a rain jacket.
It’s always an adventure when hiking in Hawai’i.
The push from the bench to K2 is physically demanding from start to finish. You’re covering a lot of elevation in a very short amount of distance — roughly 1.3 miles.
Remember to take your time, rest, and take in the stunning scenes of the surrounding mountains, valleys, ocean, Diamond Head, and views of Waikiki.
If you make it all the way to the top of K2 with a dry trail and clear skies, consider yourself extremely lucky. It’s not every day you get a clear summit with perfect visibility on O’ahu.
With that being said, don’t get too comfortable at the top of K2 as the best part of the hike, in my opinion, still lies ahead.
Konahuanui Peak (K1)
If you search Pu’u Konahuanui Peak Trail on AllTrails, you’ll notice that the tracked trail ends at the summit of K2.
Ironically enough, my favorite section of this trail begins just past the K2 summit.
From the K2 summit platform, there is a trail that continues onto the ridge. Following this path takes you to the final prize: K1.
Immediately, it’s evident that not many others continue onto the saddle that bridges K2 and K1. The trail is very narrow, overgrown, muddy, slippery, and at times a little sketchy, for lack of better wording.
From the saddle, the views in all directions of the knife-edge ridge are stunning. This section of trail is notorious for sheer drop-offs, high winds, and steep ascents and descents.
While the summit views are arguably better from K2, the adventure of getting to K1 makes the extra .75 scrambly miles worth it.
There’s not much of a distance separating K2 and K1 but prepare for this section to take about an hour, give or take depending on conditions.
Again, this section of Pu’u Konahuanui Peak Trail sees a lot of rain, year around. The trail is likely to be extremely muddy, slippery, and even occasionally washed out. Tennis shoes aren’t going to cut it. Make sure to pack a sturdy pair of hiking shoes for the trek.
Other Adventurous Hikes on Oahu You Can’t-Miss
Don’t make the mistake of visiting O’ahu and spending all of your time at the beach. Or, better yet, end all your days at the beach but spend the better half of each day galivanting in the mountains.
We lived on O’ahu for five years and hiked nearly every hike around the island. While it’s hard to narrow them down, below are my picks for the best and most adventurous hikes on the island.
Olomana Trail “Three Peaks“
Olomana Trail “Three Peaks” is one of the most well-known hikes on Oahu, and for good reason.
While the trail itself is relatively short it’s jam-packed with adventure. The entire trail requires hikers to traverse steep terrain, navigate ridges, and rely on tethered ropes and rock holds.
Olomana Trail is a choose-your-own-adventure of sorts allowing hikers to decide how far they want to go. Peak one is generally a safe, albeit it challenging, route suitable for most people. While peaks two and three should only be attempted by confident, experienced hikers.
Kuliouou Ridge Loop Trail
The Kuliouou Ridge Loop Trail rewards hikers with the best view on Oahu — hands down. From the trail, the views of the Ko’olau Mountain Range are vast and dramatic.
Kuliouou Ridge Trail is a popular trail on O’ahu, while the “loop” trail is less frequented. Kuliouou Ridge Loop Trail is a longer route, more physically challenging, and delivers more dramatic views.
If you’re looking for the best view on the island, this trail is it.
Moanalua Valley Trail “Backway to Stairway to Heaven“
Oahu’s famous Stairway to Heaven Trail has been beckoning hikers for years, despite its illegal status. The good news is, there is a legal “backway” to accessing the stairs: Moanalua Valley Trail.
The trail is long, tiring, beautiful, and adventurous. If you’re keen to navigate thick jungle landscapes, scale steep ridge lines, and witness the coveted view of the iconic stairs, this hike is for you.
While the Moanalua Valley Trail isn’t as hyped as the direct Stairway to Heaven Trail, it’s an epic, legal option for witnessing the staircase and is easily still one of the best hikes on O’ahu.
Ka’au Crater Trail
We were lucky enough to live just minutes away from the Ka’au Crater Trailhead for over five years. While I may be biased, Ka’au Crater Trail is the best overall hike on O’ahu in my opinion.
The trail boasts lush green foliage, several waterfalls, river crossings, knife-sharp ridges, and 360° views of O’ahu.
Ka’au Crater Trail promises to have you smiling, in awe, and covered in mud from head to toe. If you’re searching for the best adventure trail on O’ahu, look no further.
Do you live on O’ahu or are you just visiting?
Make sure to check out my other O’ahu guides to help plan your trip or fill your weekend with adventure. If you have any questions about hiking Pu’u Konahuanui Peak Trail via the Kalawahine Trail or any other hikes around the island, leave me a comment in the section below.
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