Wa’ahila Ridge Trail to Mount Olympus was the first hike Cole and I did after moving to O’ahu. Talk about setting the bar high.
The trail is adventurous, challenging, and worth every step it takes to reach the view awaiting you at the top. Wa’ahila Ridge Trail to Mt. Olympus is an epic ridge hike, similar to iconic hikes Olomana and Kuli’ou’ou Ridge, but with a fraction of the popularity.
If you’re looking for a trail that will put some miles under your boots, challenge you with ropes and elevation, and award you with 360° views, summiting Mt Olympus via the Wa’ahila Ridge Trail is the adventure for you.
In this trail guide, I highlight what to expect hiking Wa’ahila Ridge Trail to Mt. Olympus, finding the trailhead, parking, and more. I also cover other top ridge hikes on O’ahu you won’t want to miss.
Table of Contents
Guide to Hiking Wa’ahila Ridge Trail to Mount Olympus
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Wa’ahila Ridge Trail to Mt. Olympus (‘Awa’awaloa) Stats
Distance: 5.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,047 feet
Time: 4-6 hours
Getting to Wa’ahila Ridge Trail
The trek to the ‘Awa’awaloa summit, more commonly known as Mt. Olympus, begins at the Wa’ahila Ridge Trail. The trailhead is located just a little over 15 minutes from downtown Waikiki, making it a great hiking option for those staying in town.
From Waikiki, head south on Kalākaua towards Kapi’olani Regional Park. Take a left on Kapahulu Avenue to St. Louis Drive.
Follow St. Louis Dr. as it winds up the valley. Look for the left veer onto Bertram Street and then onto Ruth Plaza. Once you turn left onto Ruth Pl. you will see the sign indicating that you are entering Wa’ahila Ridge State Recreation Area.
Wa’ahila Ridge Trail Trail is located at the end of this road.
Wa’ahila Ridge State Recreation Area
Wai’ahila Ridge Trail begins inside the State Recreation Area.
The park gates are open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. The gates are locked at the end of each day. Make sure you have completed the hike and are back in your car in time to exit the park, so you don’t risk getting locked in.
The park has public restrooms and picnic tables. While dogs are technically not allowed in the park, they are able to cross the park to access the trail.
Wa’ahila Ridge State Park has no entrance fee.
Unlike many other hikes on O’ahu, there is a designated parking lot for Wa’ahila Ridge Trail.
There are several parking spots available so getting one shouldn’t be an issue. With that being said, the park is a popular spot for families, so it never hurts to start early to ensure you don’t have an issue.
Be aware that car break-ins aren’t uncommon on O’ahu. Before setting out for your hike, make sure to remove all valuables from your car to minimize theft incentive.
What to Expect Hiking Wa’ahila Ridge Trail to Mt. Olympus
Wa’ahila Ridge Trail
While the Mt. Olympus summit is the end goal, the hike actually begins on the frequented Wa’ahila Ridge Trail.
Many hikers choose to only complete Wa’ahila Ridge Trail as an out-and-back hike without continuing on to the summit. While this is necessarily an option, those looking for an adventurous ridge hike with spellbinding views, should continue on in search of Mt. Olympus.
The hike starts off as a mellow and steady incline through a pine forest. We always loved visiting the Wa’ahila Ridge State Recreation Area because it boasts major PNW vibes, despite it being smack dab in the middle of O’ahu.
This section of trail is most likely the driest and coolest thanks to the looming trees and falling pine needles. The rest of the trail, however, is commonly muddy and exposed.
While the trek up Mount Olympys isn’t as difficult as other ridge hikes on the island, such as the nearby Ka’au Crater Trail, it does involve a good amount of ups, downs, and more ups.
There are a couple of times right off the bat when you are required to use your hands, knees, and/or butt to hoist yourself up and over boulders or tree roots or slide your way down them.
On Wa’ahila Ridge Trail, you constantly weave in and out of trees but do get some good views of Palolo Valley, Honolulu, and the ocean.
End of Maintained Trail Sign
Around 1.3 miles you come to a series of signs, one of which reads, “End of Maintained Trail.”
This point marks the end of the Wa’ahila Ridge Trail. Going left puts you on the Kolowalu Trail and going straight puts you on the Mt. Olympus summit trail.
As the sign suggests, the trail from here gets increasingly more difficult, overgrown, and adventurous.
Mt. Olympus Summit Trail
Almost immediately, you notice the change of trail. This section of trail ups the ante with more elevation gain, more mud, more ropes, more exposed ridge, and more views — but fewer hikers.
Take advantage of the ropes when you see them. Always test the sturdiness of the ropes and anchor points before trusting them with your body weight. Also keep in mind when navigating these tricky rope sections that anything you scramble up, you will have to navigate back down.
Use your best judgment and only continue when you feel confident in your skills.
As you progress along the trail, the views only get better. My favorite part of the trail, ironically, is the most challenging. You’ll know when you see it.
The Final Push
Mt. Olympus definitely makes you work for it just when you think you’re close. The final push to the summit involves a giant section of eroded and washed-out trail. Thankfully, there are ropes to help you navigate the muddy incline.
As a general rule of thumb, make sure only one person is using a rope at a time.
Once you make it to the top of this verticle section, the views of the ridge line are among my favorite on the entire island.
Simultaneously, you can see the south shore and east shore of the island. Traversing the ridge for just a couple more minutes will bring you to the official summit. If you scope around the summit a bit you’ll stumble upon a grassy ledge perfect for taking a seat and soaking in the views.
A Note About Weather
The Ko’olau Mountains are notoriously socked in.
At best, even on a sunny day, the trail is muddy from previous rain. On rainy days, the trail can get impassable.
It’s crucial that you check the weather before attempting Wa’ahila Ridge Trail to the Mount Olympus summit. You do not want to get unexpectedly caught in a rainstorm while traversing the ridge or navigating the ropes.
Due to its elevation and trail erosion, the path floods quickly and can become extremely dangerous to navigate when raining.
If it does start raining while you are hiking, use your best judgment, and when in doubt, turn around.
Hiking With Aloha
Hiking in Hawai’i is a privilege and it’s all of our responsibility to care for the ‘āina and leave it better than we found it.
Always hike with aloha and keep these things in mind while enjoying Wa’ahila Ridge Trail to Mt. Olympus.
It’s always our shared responsibility as hikers to practice Leave No Trace. Please note that this is not an all-encompassing list. Pack out your trash. Don’t deface trees, logs, or rocks. Don’t discard any snacks or fruit scraps. Opt for reusable water bottles. Pick up after your pets.
Remain on the Trail
Hawai’i trails are heavily affected by erosion. Several social trails and “short-cuts” have been created — do not follow these. Please stay on the designated trails at all times to help minimize trail erosion and keep yourself and other hikers safe.
Be Considerate of Other Hikers
Always be aware of those hiking around you. Yield to hikers coming up, they always have the right away. Step aside if a hiker is walking faster than you and use headphones if you want to listen to music.
Respect the ʻĀina:
In sum, help keep Hawai’i beautiful. Don’t take or disturb what you find. It is a privilege that we get to play in these mountains. Let us never forget.
More Epic O’ahu Ridge Hikes
If adventure-filled, grueling, why-am-I-doing-this-again hikes are your m-o, check out my other O’ahu trail guides highlighting my favorite ridge hikes around the island.
Please note that these trails are not for everyone. Use my guide to determine whether or not the trail is right for you. These guides are intended to showcase the beauty of hiking on O’ahu while being forthcoming with their level of difficulty.
If you do choose to explore any of the listed hikes, I guarantee it’s an adventure you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
Best Overall Trail: Ka’au Crater Trail
Best View: Kuli’ou’ou West Loop Trail
Top Adventurous Trail: Olomana Trail “Three Peaks”
Most Beautiful Trail: Pu’u Konahuanui Peak Trail via the Kalawahine Trail “K2 and K1”
Most Iconic Trail: Moanalua Valley Trail: Backway to the Stairway to Heaven
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 Mt. Olympus via the Wa’ahila Ridge Trail, leave me a comment in the section below.
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